Putting the “Comics” back in San Diego Comic Con International, the highlighted comic event this year doesn’t star the ‘Man of Steel’ or ‘Spider-Man’ or any other men in tights.  It’s the return of 90s genre-changing Vertigo milestone ‘Sandman’ in the new six-part miniseries Sandman: Overture, scripted by original series creator Neil Gaiman and illustrated by the innovative J.H. Williams III.  The Vertigo revival is featured on SDCC’s souvenir book and on a commemorative tee shirt.  In addition, Williams, Gaiman and Sandman each received their own panels.

After being absent for ten years, Gaiman seems quite proud of his new “very, very strange book.”  Stranger than the original series?  Is that even possible?  Explaining the differences from the original, he explained, “This is not about the story of Morpheus’ capture, how it changed him, the kind of change-or-die, ‘Kindly Ones’ story. This is about how some weird [stuff] happened a long way away and some bad stuff happened a long way away and how he had to try to sort it out whether he wanted to or not.”

25 years after the series launched, Gaiman marveled at the continued devotion his creation receives.  “At a time when I would have thought everyone would have completely forgotten about me and ‘Sandman’ … the world is even more excited and interested.”  This creates quite a contrast from the book’s humble beginnings when Gaiman was essentially writing the book for himself and his colleagues.  Contrast and pressure!  “Now I’m doing it for millions of people, and in my head they’re all looking over my shoulder while I write and they’re all going, ‘This better be worth waiting for. It better be good.’ … So that is actually genuinely nerve-racking.”

It may help that he has the support of his collaborator.  Williams enthusiastically described Gaiman’s writing, “There’s this emotional, it’s almost a metaphysical feeling, that you get from reading his work. You just feel like there’s these deeper roots going on. It lives with you. If you’re reading something and two weeks later it’s still haunting your mind, you know there’s something to that. And you can’t let it go.”

The admiration is mutual.  Williams was Gaiman’s only choice to illustrate his return, thanks to the artist’s work on Alan Moore’s mystical series ‘Promethea’.  Gaiman describes assigning Williams a seemingly impossible task right off the bat.  “I said, ‘By the way, what I’d like here is a flower that is Morpheus because we’ve never seen what plants dream of. Can you give me a large plant and I’d like the petals to form a sort of a face, but you can’t draw a face. It just has to be proper plant petals — it doesn’t have a face because it’s a plant. And the leaves around the stem, which should be slightly prickly, should also just remind us of a flowing cloak.’ I thought, ‘There you go, give him something impossible to do.’ I thought it’ll teach him humility. He will fail. It will put him in his place. And instead, he aced it. He gave me this thing and I went, ‘Yeah, that’s what Morpheus would look like if he was a flower.’ “

Check out the results below!  Here are the first few pages of the first book:

Are you excited about Gaiman’s return to Sandman?  Will it be amazing or will it suffer the same fate as other once genius creators’ disappointing recent works.  (Not naming names!)  Personally, I’d buy anything that Williams drew, so I’m in!  Now, I just need to dig out my old goth clothes!  Comment below with your thoughts!