Audible Presents an Epic Adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman
Listen to The Sandman reimagined as an audio drama
Get ready, Neil Gaiman fans. One of the most epic comic books in history, a true cultural phenomenon, is now an audio series. The Sandman has arrived on Audible as a multicast drama featuring an expansive, exciting ensemble cast, Gaiman himself as narrator and a unique cinematic soundscape. Audible and DC have teamed up to present the first-ever audio adaptation of the phenomenon that changed comic book culture and became an instant classic. There’s always something new and exciting to listen to on Audible.ca, but this is one you won’t want to miss.
If you’re already a fan, you can guess what a major undertaking adapting The Sandman to audio might have been. The Sandman is a sprawling epic that draws on mythology (as in, just about every mythology from around the world), as well as history, other comic books and a series of bizarre, larger-than-life characters to construct a rich and always-surprising world. Gaiman applied an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” approach to creating the world of The Sandman, incorporating everything from Norse gods to DC superheroes to a Lucifer right out of Paradise Lost.
The series focuses on Dream, also known as Morpheus. Morpheus is one of “The Endless,” the personifications of metaphysical entities that also include Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Destruction and Delirium. The seven siblings form a dysfunctional family that has existed for all of human history (and more).
Morpheus presides over a realm called The Dreaming, the place where all dreams and nightmares come from. The series begins when a group of World War One-era occultists accidentally trap him in a ritual. They hold him captive for 70 years, and in that time, The Dreaming disintegrates. When he finally escapes, he emerges changed. He’s learned what it’s like to be powerless, and the experience alters his outlook on his past. For much of the series after the first arc, Morpheus must correct his old mistakes, becoming more human in the process.
The story is enormous in terms of time and space. We meet Morpheus in Elizabethan England, prehistoric Africa, ’80s New York, Caliphate-period Baghdad, not to mention Hell itself. An endless stream of personalities fills out the universe, each with their own stories and quirks. There’s always something unexpected around the corner.
This first installment of the multi-part original audio drama series adapts volumes 1-3 of the graphic novel series: Preludes & Nocturnes, The Doll’s House, and Dream Country. Those three installments include some of the most well-known stories from the entire series. These stories changed the way people saw comics. They went so far beyond what comic readers were used to up to that point.
The powerhouse cast is led by James McAvoy in the title role of Dream and includes Riz Ahmed, Justin Vivian Bond, Arthur Darvill, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, William Hope, Josie Lawrence, Miriam Margolyes, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis and Michael Sheen as Lucifer, as well as an expansive list of additional cast members.
Today, Neil Gaiman is everywhere. But The Sandman was what put him on the map. It changed everything, launching a prolific career that gave Gaiman a devoted fanbase. In 1990, Gaiman published his first novel, co-written with Terry Pratchett: Good Omens. Their darkly funny take on the apocalypse was adapted to TV by Amazon Prime, one of many adaptations in which Gaiman has been closely involved. Gaiman himself took on the role of showrunner in order to make sure it would be something that the late Pratchett would have liked.
What’s interesting about Gaiman’s body of work is that there doesn’t seem to be one single thing that everyone finds first. Some come to him through comics, others through novels that would come throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and he works in a wide range of genres.
Besides The Sandman, his most notable novel might be American Gods, a sweeping road trip story across the Midwest in the midst of a war between the gods of the Old World and the emergent gods of America. Stardust is his most stylistic work, written in a smooth, flowing prose that imitates the style used by English fantasy writers before Tolkien made epic, dramatic prose the new standard for the genre.
Gaiman also writes for younger readers, from kids to young adults. One of his more recent children’s titles is The Graveyard Book¸ a Hugo Award-winning story about a boy who grows up in a cemetery, raised and educated by its resident ghosts.
But in many ways, it was The Sandman that started it all. When the series was first being released, it changed comics for the better. It brought in audiences that had previously shunned comics, including readers who had never thought of comics as “serious literature” before. Its for-the-time progressive gender representation also attracted fans who had previously avoided the male-centric world of comics. The Sandman came at a time when the rules for comics were still being written, and Gaiman cracked open the genre by telling very different stories.
Just as The Sandman reshaped comics, the audio adaptation promises to push the boundaries of what’s possible in audio dramas. Whether you’re new to The Sandman or a long-time fan, let us know what you think. Who are your favourite characters? What’s your favourite story? In the vast Sandman universe, there’s something for everyone.