Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Supernatural Sandman?

It's comic book news/James Hibberd day here at Verbosity, as The Live Feed also reports that Warner Brothers is in the process of acquiring the television rights for Neil Gaiman's Sandman - maybe the single greatest self-contained comic saga ever created (Watchmen fans, commence hating!). Hibberd also reports that Eric Kripke, creator of Supernatural, is in the running to adapt the series for TV.

I love Supernatural for what it is - a pulpy, blue collar, self-aware monsterfest - but there's little of the poetry and lyricism that Sandman contains on nearly every page. That said, deciding to develop this property as a television show (as opposed to a feature film) is an enormously smart idea (in a rather obvious way). Sandman's story is sprawling, epic, and totally unsuited for compression into a two hour running time. Developing it for TV means letting its various-and-sundry subplots, side stories, digressions and quirks breathe in a way that's impossible to imagine on film.

There's a large part of me that would prefer never to see an adaptation of Gaiman's greatest work - who could possibly play Morpheus without inevitably making him less than the sum of his on-the-page complications? How to create the fantastic vistas presented without resorting to fake, ultimately-underwhelming CGI? How to negotiate the sometimes-stunning violence with an eye toward network broadcast (if network is the goal at all)?

And yet, it's Sandman - the one comic book I'd recommend to English majors, aspiring goths, geeks...heck, anyone. It's without a doubt my single favorite work of graphic storytelling, and it could very well be headed into our homes.

I'll watch it, that's for sure.


  1. Wonder if they'll make the episode wherein delight into delirium is explained. Rather, I hope they make a comic of it.

    Neil says the story has come to him (at a panel of his I attended in Boston), but terms with dc haven't come together. If nothing else, I hope this is the impetus.

  2. I had no idea that was potentially in the works, Erik. Thanks for the heads-up. I'm certainly interested in hearing/seeing/reading that story, although I'll be honest and say that its essential ambiguity has always pleased me.

  3. I'm torn on this one. Watchmen (the movie) might have convinced me that some things just don't need adapting. Now, I dug the movie, but I could never tell if I liked it primarily because it was good or because I knew the story inside and out from the books and my brain was filling in the details and back story as we went.

    Sandman strikes me as even harder to adapt than Watchmen. At least Watchmen dealt with a version of reality that is familiar to most people whether they read comics/watch comic book movies or not. But Sandman is another thing entirely. One of my favorite things about the books is that they aren't easy. The reader has to do some work and hopefully has some background in fantastic literature/myth to even begin to get what's going on. I feel like any adaption would necessarily have to dumb things down and give way too much exposition in order to be palatable to the masses.