In the 1980’s the world of comics changed. While in London waiting for a train, then journalist Neil Gaiman happened across the latest issue of Swamp Thing. As he began to read the issue, his world came into sharp focus and the embers of a new future brightly lit in his mind. One where he would take the comics industry by the neck and drag it in a different direction than his writing peers. It was then the threads of what became The Sandman began to weave itself together.
While the world was transfixed on Frank Miller in the US and Allan Moore in the UK, Gaiman was beginning to craft a new reality with his work – quite literally. In 1989, he began work on his opus known as The Sandman for Vertigo (a division of DC Comics). It was like lightning in a bottle. A time when the Regan era had ended and was transitioning into what came next. His tale of Morpheus the Lord of Dreams and one of the Endless, a group of characters that Gaiman invented for the series, seemed to capture the zeitgeist.
After decades of prosperity followed by the patriotic jingoism of Regan and Thatcher, the world was soon hit with a global recession. Many people lost everything and had to rebuild their lives after the crash. Then, we met Morpheus the Lord of Dreams after a long imprisonment by a human wishing for nothing but power and long life. Morpheus, who after 70+ years imprisoned in a magical glass dome in the basement of an English manor house, stripped of everything – escapes. Once free, he begins to reclaim his life and items of power. We follow him on his journey to rebuild his life and home which was mirroring many around the globe at that time.
It was the best timing for this story. Even though it has been decades since it’s release the story still resonates with readers. Much of that is thanks to Gaiman’s talent as a creator of not only characters but entire worlds.
It’s 2020, Audible.ca has created a new original production for its subscribers. Producer Dirk Maggs produces alongside Neil Gaiman an audio production of The Sandman adapted and directed by Dirk Maggs. This volume covers the first three graphic novels in the series. Don’t let that fool you. A lot happens in these first 10+ hours of audio.
Listeners can enjoy the story for the first time digitally with an amazing all-star cast of performers which include:
- James McAvoy as Morpheus
- Riz Ahmed as the Corinthian
- Kat Dennings as Death
- Taron Egerton as John Constantine
- Andy Serkis as Matthew the Raven
- Michael Sheen as Lucifer
- Bebe Neuwirth as The Siamese Cat
- Samantha Morton as Urania Blackwell
- Neil Gaiman as The Narrator
With this group of actors performing the various roles plus many more (including a personal favourite from the audiobook world reader Ray Porter) you are in for a treat. The Audible original also features excellent sound effects to help create the right mood and setting in each moment of the production. Dirk Maggs does a fantastic job turning a story meant for the 4-colour world of comics into a living breathing work of audio art. The whole production comes together and you can really see the story unfold as you listen. A really big part of the production is the music.
The theme for the production and it’s subsequent motifs and other refrains used throughout are amazing. The music fits the piece so well, I really hope they reuse it in the planned Netflix film adaptation that Gaiman is developing. It would honestly be hard for me to hear anything else now. At the start of each chapter, the music sets the listener in the exact right frame of mind. The music perfectly captures what Dream, one of The Endless, should sound like in a theme. It is serene, gentle, soothing, terrifying and vast all in one piece of music. It elevates an already great audio production to the next level.
Speaking of next level, I will also have a hard time with whoever plays these characters in any filmed version in the future. James McAvoy’s Morpheus is a stunning performance. He makes Morpheus sound righteous, loving, downtrodden, defeated, ambivalent, ancient and human, sometimes all in one sentence. He captures the character so well that I know that is what he should sound like even though I have never thought about how Morpheus sounded before. I have read the graphic novels that make up this story and McAvoy IS Morpheus. His tenor and inflections make it clear you are listening to someone who is part of The Endless.
I also have similar feelings toward Kat Dennings as Death, Morpheus’s sister. Her voice seems to capture something I had never thought about with Death and the way I read her character previously. She comes off even more compassionate with a more youthful quality to her voice than the words she is saying indicate. I had her a little deeper and mature to match the pearls of wisdom she is dishing out. Like McAvoy, Dennings has so perfectly captured the character that in the future, it’s her voice I will hear.
I can’t recommend this production enough. I was extremely worried going into listening to this because of how much I like the story that it would feel less than. Happily, I was proven wrong and I am really looking forward to listening to future productions. Hopefully, they don’t wait too long in between releases. I need my fix from The Sandman.
The Sandman is available now on Audible.ca. If you are not an Audible member, you can signup and get this great audio drama for free. If you’re already on Audible, you can grab it with your monthly credit. I would highly recommend that you do. Fans of The Sandman series will love this adaptation. Also, if you are just getting into the world of audiobooks, this is a great gateway to that wonderful world.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!