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Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III talk Morpheus' father and this week's 'Sandman: Overture'

When Neil Gaiman announced that he would be once again returning to his much beloved comic book series The Sandman with a six-issue prequel series titled The Sandman: Overture, fans rejoiced. There really isn’t anything quite like The Sandman, a 75-issue story about stories written by Gaiman and illustrated by a long list of some of the best artists in comics. Illustrated by J.H. Williams III, one of the most jaw-droppingly gifted artists working in comics today, Overture was to tell the story that immediately preceded the first issue of Sandman, which saw the Master of Dreams laid low—something had weakened him, leaving him vulnerable to human occultists that imprisoned him for 70 years.

However, Overture hasn’t had the smoothest release schedule. Initially planned as a bi-monthly series, the book has slipped to an irregular schedule—issue three was released in July. While the long waits can be frustrating, when an issue does come out, it’s absolutely worth it. Williams’ art is lush, inventive, and ludicrously pretty, while Gaiman’s writing feels like he never quit telling Sandman stories.

With Overture’s fourth issue, available tomorrow, we’re approaching the confrontation between Dream himself and the mysterious force that lies at this story’s end. There’s a city of anthropomorphic stars, an asylum where one insane star resides, and the father of Dream and the Endless makes his first appearance. As things start to build toward Overture‘s conclusion, EW reached out to Gaiman and Williams to talk a little bit more about what readers can expect—and to share a few stunning preview pages.

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Comic-Con first look: New 'Sandman' cover by Dave McKean

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman gets an intense spotlight this week at Comic-Con International with a silver anniversary celebration and new details about Sandman: Overture No. 1, the October release that marks Gaiman’s first Morpheus story since 1996.

We’ve got two First Look images from that first issue below — the Dave McKean cover and the page one interior art by J.H. Williams III — but first a bit of background.

A whisper can be louder than a shout in the right setting at that was the case back in 1988 when Sandman No. 1 hit shelves and spinner racks with a Dave McKean cover that showed mixed-media ambitions, cryptic images, and a muted approach to color and text — all very strange in an era when the average DC Comics cover was about as subtle as an air-raid siren.

The story inside was worthy of the special treatment. In it writer Neil Gaiman introduced a pale, otherworldly figure: Morpheus, an imprisoned dream lord who yearns to break free and return to his kingdom.

Escape he did and that issue began the landmark 75-issue run that left fans dizzy with it’s breadth and imagination.  Now Gaiman is the one returning to his kingdom of imagination and McKean has another compelling cover to herald it. (Mouse over the image to get a magnified look.)

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Neil Gaiman returns for new 'Sandman'

The Sandman is returning to Vertigo comics under the influence of writer Neil Gaiman.

Shelly Bond, executive editor of the imprint of DC Entertainment, said Monday that Gaiman is working with artist J.H. Williams III to tell stories of Morpheus’ world before he was captured. Titled The Sandman: Overture, the new series will appear bi-monthly starting Oct. 30 in comic shops and digitally, too.

Gaiman last penned stories in the realm of the Endless more than a decade ago. His telling of Sandman has sold more than 7 million copies in nine languages by combining epic story with mythology in a comic medium.
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Comic-Con: Neil Gaiman to write new 'Sandman' series for DC Comics' Vertigo imprint

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Call it a dream come true. Acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Coraline) is returning to comics and the character that made him a superstar scribe: Dream, a.k.a. Morpheus, member of the Endless, a deeply dysfunctional family of eternal though not immutable entities with names that begin with the letter ‘D’ who preside over various aspects of human existence (except Destruction did abandon his mantle and dominion and ran away… but never mind). Gaiman — who wrote 75 issues of The Sandman from 1988 to 1996 (all collected in “graphic novel” form), producing one of the most celebrated and most erudite comic book series ever — will team with artist J. H. Williams III (Promethea, Batwoman) for a mini-series that’s set prior to the events in Sandman #1. In that story, an English occult leader inadvertently summoned Dream using a black magic ritual involving rat claws and angel wings on June 10, 1916 and held him captive for 72 years. (The foolish mortal was actually trying to trap Morpheus’ sister, Death, but something went awry. Magic: So darn unpredictable!)
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