Neil Gaiman has said that his upcoming Netflix adaptation of The Sandman isn’t “throwing things out” from his acclaimed series of graphic novels.
The story kicks off when an occultist, intending to summon the living embodiment of Death, accidentally conjures her younger brother Dream and holds him captive for decades.
When he finally breaks free, he sets about finding the objects of his power and restoring order to his kingdom, which has fallen into disrepair during his absence.
The fantasy saga has been trying to jump from page to screen since the late ’90s, but numerous creative teams have struggled to condense its sprawling narrative into a single movie.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Gaiman revealed that swapping to a television format has allowed him to pursue a far more faithful Sandman adaptation than he ever could have achieved in film.
“I’ve been saying for 30 years that I would rather have no Sandman than a bad Sandman,” he said. “The problem with making a Sandman film is, the first question you get into is ‘What do you throw out?’.
“I’ve read lots of scripts that ranged from the appalling to ‘OK, they might be able to pull this off’. But you always read them going, ‘Well, it’s not quite Sandman. It’s taking some Sandman stuff from over here, and taking some Sandman stuff over there, and blending it together.'”
Gaiman elaborates that most previous attempts involved combining the first two volumes of the graphic novel series, Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House, in a “not very exciting way”.
However, as the adaptation shifts from being a single movie to an extended Netflix original series, these compromises are no longer necessary as Gaiman has time to translate his original story in full.
He said: “The joy for doing it as a Netflix series is we aren’t in the place where we’re throwing things out. In fact, it’s the other way round.
“Sometimes that means that a lot more stuff gets to happen because we have room for it. But we’re never throwing things out, and we’re never abandoning things. And that, in itself, is a complete joy.”
Netflix has invested heavily in Gaiman as of late, ordering not only a big-budget adaptation of The Sandman, but also committing to three seasons of Lucifer, which is loosely based on peripheral characters from that world.
Tom Ellis and Lauren German in Lucifer FOX
Gaiman added: “What’s also nice is the amount of confidence that Netflix has in us. They’re prepared to go, ‘Look, if Lucifer can be a huge hit, and Lucifer is taking a tiny little bit of Sandman and building it up from there, let’s see what Sandman itself can do.'”
The prolific fantasy writer also revealed to RadioTimes.com that he has been “taking notes” on the star-studded cast of Audible’s Sandman adaptation, to take into consideration when casting the live-action roles.
Lucifer is preparing to debut its fifth season next month, the second to be produced solely by Netflix, as Tom Ellis returns to the role of a reformed Lord of Hell.
The Sandman is available now from Audible.com/TheSandman
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