The Sandman Comic-Con panel began with a video of David Thewlis as John Dee, holding Dream’s ruby and sitting in a diner in his pajamas. Dee says it won’t be long before his dream comes true. The scene has a David Lynchian, minimalist vibe, with characters being very elusive in their dialogue.
Moderator Kari Byron then introduced Neil Gaiman and the entire cast. Gaiman stated that it feels “really, really good” to see his characters onscreen. Show developer Allan Heinberg called it a dream come true, and said he would only join the team if he could make the adaptation as faithful as possible. Casting director Lucinda Syson previously worked with Gaiman on Stardust. Tom Sturridge’s audition was in her first batch of emails to Gaiman.
They approached Gwendoline Christie directly to play Lucifer. Gaiman suggested Jenna Coleman for Joanna Cosntantine after seeing no auditions that he liked. Mason Alexander Park Tweeted Gaiman asking if Desire had been cast, so he looked at their videos and sent them over. Park then aced the audition. Kirby Howell-Baptiste was one of the last they saw for Death, because they believed Tom would listen, and people would fall in love with her. Patton Oswalt joked that he dyed his Ratatouille costume black and slapped a beak on it to play the raven.
Vivienne Acheampong loves how stoic her librarian of dreams is, and the bond she has with Dream. She’s read and knows every book every written or imagined, and she loves that. Boyd Holbrook described the Corinthian as your worst nightmare in the dream world, and the saint of serial killers in the real world.
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Gaiman described Lucifer as an androgynous junkie angel, originally based on an old photo of a young David Bowie as a folk singer. Christie said there’s a spirituality in Sandman that’s like Star Wars, and it awakened something in her.
They then showed a clip for Hall H only, from episode 3. “For various reasons” they decided to do a female Constantine, and Jenna Coleman has the initials JC. It’s a surprise wedding where Constantine has been summoned.
She’s ministering a wedding in Latin in an empty room save for the bride and groom. The groom starts choking. A giant hand comes out of his mouth, and then a full on giant demon rips him apart. This dreadlocked, spiky spined individual is named Agaleath.
Morpheus shows up, and Agaleath says he looks different without his helm. Morpheus says he’ll get it back, but Agaleath notes he doesn’t know the name of the demon he traded it to. Before Dream can get the answer, Constantine, banishes the demon back to Hell, telling him to eff off.
“You’ve no idea what you’ve just done,” says Morpheus.
“I do, though,” she rebuts. “Just tripled my fee.”
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A second clip, from episode 6, begins with Dream and Death sitting on a park bench. He’s feeding bread to pigeons, and instantly catches a stray soccer ball. Death tries to ask him what’s wrong, and he broods about feeling empty after his revenge and quest for his old tools. She chews him out for being too stupid to find something new, and not thinking about her being worried about him. It ends with her expertly catching another soccer ball.
Though neither character is pale white like their comic book counterparts, they are both definitely recognizable as Dream and Death, in overall look and personality.
Responding to a question about merchandising, Gaiman said Netflix does not share that info, but like the fans, he too wants a Merv Pumpkinhead Funko POP, and more. And he hopes they make them all.
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Gaiman said he considers himself incredibly lucky that at every stage of Sandman in every form, nobody ever wanted to change it. DC initially had no idea what he was doing, and just let him do it. The Audible podcast freed him up to take even bigger risks on the Netflix show. He described fans as “yogurt starter,” and he hopes fans will go out and tell everyone about to turn the entire world into yogurt.
The show will shift visual styles like the comics, “as distinctive as it is deeply emotional,” said Heinberg. Dave McKean had formally retired from Sandman, but Gaiman called him up and asked him to do end title sequences for each episode — ten in all. Don’t skip the credits, or let Netflix skip them for you.
Gaiman initially tried to update and “fix” things, but had to learn to trust his younger self as someone who knew what he was doing. Inevitably they went back to the source. Gaiman reiterated that he would love to see a 1602 movie or TV series, but says it’s up to Marvel.
The panel ended with the world premiere of the trailer. Check it out:
Recommended Reading: Lucifer Omnibus Vol. 1 (The Sandman Universe Classics)