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Fans of 'The Sandman' ecstatic as Netflix confirms 11-episode series on Neil Gaiman's graphic novel

Neil Gaiman's seminal graphic novel, released in 1988, has a long history of failed attempts at adaptation

Netflix has finally confirmed that Neil Gaiman’s weird and wonderful graphic novel 'The Sandman' will be adapted into an 11-episode series. Gaiman’s works have been successfully adapted into TV shows recently with 'Good Omens' and 'American Gods' receiving praise from both critics and the general public. While Gaiman's fans will, no doubt, be ecstatic over the announcement, this is not the first time an adaptation of 'The Sandman' has been attempted.

Released in 1988, 'The Sandman' tells the story of Dream, a nearly all-powerful being who is the literal manifestation of dreams. He and his siblings, the Endless, are a group of cosmic beings more powerful than the gods and each in charge of a specific concept like destiny, death, and despair. The series begins with a weakened dream being captured and kept prisoner by a cult for decades until he eventually breaks free and begins reclaiming his lost power. It then goes on to explore the wider world of the Endless and their relationship with other entities in the DC multiverse.

The series will be written by Allan Heinberg ('Wonder Woman’) who will also serve as showrunner. Gaiman and David S. Goyer (‘The Dark Knight’) will also join the project, serving as executive producers.

Neil Gaiman speaks onstage at the Amazon Prime Video Showcase during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 20, 2018, in San Diego, California. (Getty Images)

"We’re thrilled to partner with the brilliant team that is Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer, and Allan Heinberg to finally bring Neil’s iconic comic book series, 'The Sandman,' to life onscreen,” said Channing Dungey, vice-president, Original Series, Netflix. “From its rich characters and storylines to its intricately built-out worlds, we’re excited to create an epic original series that dives deep into this multi-layered universe beloved by fans around the world.”

The first attempt to make a live-action adaptation of the iconic graphic novel came way back in the 1990s. Roger Avary (‘Killing Zoe’) was initially linked to the project, which went through a number of rewrites before finally getting stuck in development hell. Gaiman described the last script he received for a 'Sandman' movie as "not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read."

The rights to the character rest with DC, not Gaiman, but the company has always been polite enough to take the award-winning author’s approval before using any of his characters. Gaiman, for his part, has been clear that he would not accept anything short of perfection from an adaptation of ‘The Sandman.'

In 2007, the author reportedly said, "I'd rather see no 'Sandman' movie made than a bad 'Sandman' movie. But I feel like the time for a 'Sandman' movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with 'Lord of the Rings' or Sam Raimi had with 'Spider-Man'."

Another attempt was made at adapting the book to the big screen in 2014 with Joseph Gordon-Lewitt (‘Inception’) directing and starring. The script was first written by Jack Thorne (‘Wonder’) but then rewritten by Eric Heisserer in 2016. Gordon-Lewitt quit the project soon after citing creative differences. The same year, Heisserer left the project as well, suggesting that 'The Sandman' would do better as a TV series, and the movie went back to limbo.

Now that Netflix has officially given a series order to the show, fans of the classic graphic novel can finally see the Prince of Stories on screen in all his fantastical glory. With its rich world and colorful narrative, 'The Sandman' has the potential to be a long-running success — so long as it gets made, of course.