Remember the first time you entered the world of The Endless? Whether you were there from the beginning with THE SANDMAN #1 or you joined at some point in the last twenty-five years, every fan can recall their first memory of THE SANDMAN.
With this installment of the 25 Days of Sandman, we asked many of the artists that have helped bring Neil Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN to life to share their first memories on the job.
Some were relatively unknown before they penciled or inked their first pages, but all have made their mark on the realm of THE SANDMAN and are often synonymous with the impressions they’ve made.
After these reflections, please share your own first encounter with THE SANDMAN in the comments section below. Tune in again tomorrow as we bring you more from these artists as we count down to the launch of Neil Gaiman’s new bimonthly miniseries THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE, arriving on October 30th.
“My first memory of working on Sandman was getting the first script for the first issue of Sandman from Karen Berger back in the 1988. I was at my studio in a small building at the Van Nuys airport in Van Nuys, California. Karen was looking for an artist for a new title that was to be published a few months down the line from a talented Brit who had a great idea for a book titled Sandman. His name was Neil Gaiman. I read the synopsis for the first story arc along with the first issue. I did a few character sketches (sticking to the rough sketches that Neil had done to accompany the first script to convey to the artist what he had in mind for the look of the character) and some layouts for the first few pages. I got a call from Karen a few days later telling me that the Sandman title had been pushed back a few months and that she needed an artist for Dr. Fate and could I jump on that title. Being the team player and happy to oblige Karen, I started working on Dr. Fate with one of my favorite writers, J.M. DeMatteis for the next two years. I was thrilled to be asked to revisit my old friend, Sandman, a few years later with the art chores for a multi-issue story arc.”
“Long before I drew any stories, I remember being at a tiny SF convention, just outside London. Neil had just started working on the series and I was having dinner there with him, Karen Berger, Glenn Fabry and others. Somebody asked me if I could draw Sandman, so I did and showed it to Neil. Can't remember what he thought of it, though. It was probably rubbish.”
“Karen Berger explaining that, because we were both complete unknowns and were about to release a prestige format full colour rather expensive series featuring an obscure character that barely anyone remembered (Black Orchid), we should both do something more commercial, so I was given a Batman script to read (Arkham Asylum) and Neil started work on a new series that needed covers. I thought it would be a great opportunity to do all the things you're not supposed to do on comic covers, and also to try and reach out to what appeared to be a new and growing audience of readers outside the usual comic book marketplace. I also thought Neil's main character should look like Bono in a Clannad video, but that was never taken very seriously.”
“Neil Gaiman called me out of the blue to ask if I'd like to work on Sandman the same week an issue of Rolling Stone came out with a huge article on comics, which featured Sandman as well as a full-page ad for the first Sandman TPB. This was very early in my career. Frank Einstein had yet to become Madman. Of course I shrieked, ‘Yes, Please!’ But then learned firsthand of the power of an editor when Karen Berger told me she felt I wasn't quite ready yet. Could have destroyed me, but steeled me up to improve, realizing she was right. A couple years later Neil asked me again. I told him Karen had to ask me. And she did. Happy happy day!”
“Way long ago (maybe 1987 or 88?) meeting and talking with Neil in an aisle at the San Diego Comic Con and he asking me ‘If you ever want to draw an issue just call me.’ So I did.”
P. Craig Russell
“I was aware of the book, had heard a lot of positive talk, but hadn't read it until I was asked to ink an issue pencilled by Kelly Jones. Reading that issue while inking sent me back to start at the beginning.”
“My first memory of working on Sandman, was receiving an unexpected phone call from Karen Berger, who asked if I would be interested in doing a sample page for “The Hunt” (Sandman issue #38) as an inker. I had never considered working as an inker, but I was excited by the prospect of working on Sandman. The sample had to be done on a vellum overlay, so there was no chance of messing up the original pencils. I hated inking on vellum, so I reassured Karen several times, ‘it will look better when I’m inking on Bristol board’.”
“Terrified, I was still working part time at a comic book store to support my fledgling career and up to that point I had only ever done a handful of black and white pages, I couldn't hide behind splashes of paint to disguise my shortcomings.”