The things about The Sandman that I recall the most fondly aren't what most others think of. In my experience, an overwhelming percentage of readers are quick to talk about the characters, or the strength of writer Neil Gaiman's voice. I definitely can't argue against either of those, but what I really appreciated about The Sandman was Gaiman and his artists' ingeniously subtle tricks with symbolism and structure. The big points were always echoed in some very clever ways that never disrupted the natural flow of the story to point out how ornate the plot actually was.
Gaiman and J.H. Williams III have managed to condense pretty much all the major themes of the seventy-five issue run of The Sandman into The Sandman: Overture.
Now, it appears as though the series' third issue won't be making its scheduled release next month, even though April 30 remains DC Comics' solicited release date. In an interview with CNN, Gaiman said issue three won't be coming out until sometime in July.
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.
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.
Vertigo fans may want to sit down. According to The New York Times DC Comics' mature readers imprint has announced six new titles coming this fall, including the finally-titled Sandman prequel announced last summer at San Diego Comic-Con International. On October 30, Gaiman and artist J.H. Williams' The Sandman: Overture #1 will arrive in stores, bringing an end to fans' some 17 year wait for new material.
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