It's been 16 years since fantasy icon Neil Gaiman ended his landmark comic book series Sandman, but it remains required reading for every new comics fan. Reprints, special issues and spinoff series by other writers have kept the Sandman world alive, and word around the San Diego Comic-Con this week is that Gaiman might be returning to the story for the first time in nearly a decade.
A while back, Gaiman told fans that he'd been batting about an idea for a new Sandman story that he described as "Sandman Zero." When we first meet Dream, Gaiman's hero, in Sandman #1, he's imprisoned by a magician who intended to trap Death and therefore live forever. The "Zero" story would have followed Dream's adventures just prior to his imprisonment. It sounded like a great idea, but according to Gaiman, negotiations with DC Comics didn't go well (they were offering contract terms similar to what he got when he started the series back in 1989, and he wanted something better), and the comic was never written.
But now it seems that, in light of Before Watchmen, a Sandman prequel might have new life. Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston cites "bar talk" around San Diego Wednesday night as evidence that the project, or something similar, might be finally getting off the ground, with Gaiman on board to write it and Batwoman writer and artist J.H. Williams III on art. Johnston also cites a rumor that Williams is set to announce a "big new DC project" sometime this week, so if all this is true we could have confirmation of the comic before Comic-Con is over.
Though spinoffs and additions to the Sandman mythos have continued in some form or another ever since the series ended, the last time Gaiman stepped up to write something was the Endless Nights anthology back in 2003. Of course, he's been busy since then being a bestselling novelist and all-around genre fiction champion, so getting him back on the story that made his name would be a major coup for DC.