NEW to the Sandman series? Don’t jump straight into The Sandman: Overture. Here’s a handy guide on the essential books you need to read.
The Sandman graphic novels
There are a total of nine volumes collecting all 75 issues of the comic book, so read each volume in chronological order.
Yes, it sounds like I’m stating the obvious here, but with this series, it really is important that you read the stories according to the sequence in which they were released, as Gaiman frequently draws on characters and story threads from his past issues.
If you happen to have the ... er ... resources to afford it, we suggest going for the magnificent Absolute Sandman collections, which not only collect every single issue of the comic series into five magnificently bound hardcover volumes, but also include all the extras, interviews, standalone stories, Endless Nights, Dream Hunters, and Sandman Midnight Theatre.
> Endless Nights: An anthology of seven stories, each devoted to one of the Endless. The most fascinating thing about this book is how each story manages to showcase how Gaiman portrays how different each and every single one of the Endless is. These depictions are also illustrated perfectly by the artists chosen for each story – Frank Quitely on Destiny, Bill Sienkiewicz on Delirium, Glenn Fabry on Destruction, Miguelanxo Prado on Dream, Milo Manara on Desire, P. Craig Russell on Death, and Barron Storey on Despair (which was also designed by Dave McKean).
> The Dream Hunters: Not a graphic novel per se – The Dream Hunters is actually written as prose, a novella, illustrated beautifully by Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. While it is not part of the overall Sandman narrative (being mostly about the love story between a Japanese monk and a Japanese fox spirit, or kitsune), Morpheus does make an appearance in the story. The book won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrated Narrative in 2000.
> Death: Death is the only character from the Endless to have had her own solo title, which consisted of two limited series – The High Cost Of Living, and The Time Of Your Life – both of which are available in collected editions.
For a near-absolute Death experience, however, Absolute Death really lives up to its name, collecting The Sandman #8 (The Sound Of Her Wings) and #20 (Façade, in which Death visits washed-up DC superhero Element Girl), the two limited series, the Death Talks About Life AIDS pamphlet (in which she demonstrates the importance of safe sex with the help of John Constantine – it’s not what you think), and other extra materials featuring everyone’s favourite personification of death.
Spin-offs and overtures
There are way too many Sandman spin-offs and affiliated titles to name here, but the most notable ones include Lucifer (written by Mike Carey and featuring the former Lord of Hell after he hands over the key to Hell to Morpheus in Season Of Mists), Sandman Mystery Theatre (featuring Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman who appeared three times in Gaiman’s series), and The Sandman Presents (stories by various authors and illustrators featuring secondary characters from The Sandman).