What You Need to Know Before Seeing ‘The Sandman’
In 1987, Neil Gaiman received a call from an editor at DC Comics named Karen Berger.
At the time, the British writer was not yet the massive name that he is today, and he was still new to the comics medium. Gaiman had a background in journalism, and he had previously pitched a number of projects to Berger, including a miniseries called Black Orchid and a series featuring John Constantine, along with several others that involved little-known title characters that Gaiman thought could be fun to try to rescue from creative limbo. Since many of the proposals were centered on characters who were already either involved in ongoing series or were in the process of being developed by other writers, DC decided that Black Orchid made the most sense for Gaiman. Soon after, Gaiman got to work on the three-issue series with Berger and artist Dave McKean, whom Gaiman had collaborated with on his first work, Violent Cases.
As Berger recalled in 1995, Black Orchid, like Violent Cases before it, “was technically solid but maybe, in a way, too precise,” and there was a distance in Gaiman’s writing that led to an emotional detachment with the characters. But Berger—and DC at large—saw enough in his early works that she wanted to see what he could do with another project. And so, when Berger made that call to Gaiman in 1987, she asked if he would be interested in writing a monthly series based on one of those forgotten DC characters he had campaigned to revive and make his own: the Sandman.