Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean have each earned a level of success that goes way beyond comics. Gaiman is practically a household name these days, to the point where even my grandmother is familiar with his work. Dave McKean’s art is known throughout the western world. But it doesn’t have much to do with comics. It’s the other stuff that’s gotten them where they are -- the prose novels, Doctor Who, children’s books, advertising, album covers, and film projects. There are plenty of people who know of Gaiman or McKean but don’t know anything about comics. Comics can only provide some fame, and the levels of notoriety that Gaiman and McKean have surpass the borders of our little area of popular culture. But it began with comics.
UPDATE (11/12/13]:Sandman: Overture writer Neil Gaiman has accepted the majority of blame for the delay. He wrote on his blog:
We’re both really sorry about the delay. It’s unprofessional, and is mostly due to the giant signing tour I was on from June, and me not getting script written on the tour, with knock-on effects. We’re hoping it’ll be the only delay though.
ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUES:
From all indications, the first issue of Sandman: Overture, the much-anticipated return of writer Neil Gaiman to the character he co-created back in 1989, has been hugely successful. Drawn to great acclaim by JH Williams III, the issue came in at No. 8 on the October sales charts, giving Vertigo a rare top-ten book.
Which makes it all the more disappointing that the six-issue series won't be making its announced bimonthly schedule. ComicsAlliance has confirmed that issue #2, which was scheduled to come out in December, has been pushed back to February of next year.
Among its many other honors, Vertigo’s The Sandman has the distinction of being the portal through which a huge number of readers got their first look at a theretofore mysterious and unseen artifact: an actual comic book script. Available in numerous editions and formats now but Initially published in 1991 as a supplemental feature in the Dream Country paperback, writer Neil Gaiman’s script for the Shakespearean “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” chapter revealed the writer’s deference to his artistic collaborator Charles Vess. Gaiman’s words expressed a deep understanding of comics as a visual medium and Vess’ strengths as a master illustrator, with panel descriptions reading less like mechanical instructions in a script and more like helpful suggestions in a letter. The process, overseen by Sandman editor and Vertigo imprint founder Karen Berger, was a resounding success, winning the issue (#19 in The Sandman’s original run) a World Fantasy Award.
Gaiman understands how much of The Sandman’s -- of all great comic books’ -- power comes from the image, so it was honestly not a surprise to hear that Gaiman’s collaborator for The Sandman: Overture, a 25th anniversary celebration of the enduringly popular series, would be the great JH Williams III. It was, however, a surprise to see just how far Overtureexceeded expectations.
At a 'Cup O' Joe' panel at San Diego Comic Con in 2009, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada announced that the publisher had acquired the rights to Marvelman, the character created by Mick Anglo in 1954. A few months later, it was revealed that Marvel would be publishing "Marvelman Classic" reprints, though that would not include the iconic -- and due to their scarce availability, almost mythical -- runs on the character, also known as MiracleMan, from writers Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. But today, four years after that initial announcement and at another Cup O' Joe panel, Quesada, along with a video message from Gaiman, revealed plans to reprint the Gaiman run with artist Mark Buckingham. Further, it was announced that Gaiman and Buckingham will finally be able to complete their previously unfinished story.
By downloading a few free Neil Gaiman comics, you could help cure a disease that affects more than 200 million people worldwide. Knockabout Comics and the digital iPad comics app Sequential are collaborating to offer a free digital download of a collection of "lost" Gaiman comics -- including work with artists Bryan Talbot and Dave McKean -- scripts, interviews and more, to help raise money for the Malaria No More charity. For each download, a donation of $0.50 will be made to the charity, with a goal of raising $15,000.
If your wish in life was for Beetlejuice to have a baby with Maniac Mansion, and for that baby to also be written by Neil Gaiman, then consider your wish officially granted. Because that baby will come into the world this fall as the new PC/Mac/tablet game Wayward Manor. You can hear Neil himself talk the game, which is being developed by The Odd Gentlemen, in the video after the jump.
We've filled you in on last night's Eisner Award winners, but we'd be remiss if we didn't also report who smooched who on the ceremony's main stage. Sandman creator and longtime comic book/novel scribe Neil Gaiman and British television show host/comedian Jonathan Ross took the stage at the end of the show to present its final few awards, but between reading winner names, Ross explained his desire to try kissing his friend again after not quite getting the results he'd hoped for at the ceremony a few years back.
Just as Comic-Con International is getting going, Dynamite Entertainment has announced it acquired a slew of high-profile TV licenses that will turn into comics in the near future. NBC's Heroes will be making its return as a comic with writer Cullen Bunn, The Twilight Zone will get a new series written by J. Michael Straczynski, and Robotech will cross over with Voltron. But the one I'm really excited about? The Fox animated series Bob's Burgers is coming to comics.
Vertigo's The Sandman prequel by Neil Gaiman and JH Williams III is DC Comics' biggest publishing story of the year, so we can expect more and more items like this Entertainment Weekly piece in which one or two tantalizing images are released over a period of months. Normally this would be kind of annoying, but the truth is it is very good news that Gaiman and Williams are revisiting the early Sandman era and telling the story about what the titular lord of dreams was actually up to before his capture at the start of the classic series, and every teased image will be beautiful -- especially if they happen to be created by classic Sandman cover artist Dave McKean.
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