While The Sandman has been a perennial seller for DC Comics/Vertigo for over three decades, many people have recently discovered it because of the Netflix series. I can imagine that many people have devoured the original series, enjoying it immensely, but are now left with nothing new to read to fill that gap. If that sounds like you, this list is here to help.
This list offers 14 comic/graphic novel reading recommendations for those who have binge-read The Sandman and need something new to enjoy. This includes some highly regarded Sandman spin-offs, other works by Neil Gaiman, graphic novel adaptations of his writing, and a few reads the author adores.
Disclaimer: This list is written assuming you’ve read the entire series. With this in mind, there are story points discussed in this list that might be considered spoilers if you haven’t read them. If you haven’t read The Sandman yet, check out this guide to discover how to get started.
More Sandman Material
The next few suggestions will scratch your Sandman itch if you need more of it in your life.
The Sandman: Overture
Written by Neil Gaiman. Art by J.H Williams III. Coloured by Dave Stewart. Published by Vertigo Comics/DC Black Label.
In The Sandman #1, readers see Morpheus trapped by the Order of Ancient Mysteries’ ritual magic. But how did that happen? Overture is a 6-part prequel set in the lead-up to that event.
As a prequel, it joins the dots with the original series, showing characters such as The Corinthian, Merv Pumpkinhead, Morpheus’ siblings, and others. While these add small hints at what would come in the original series, Overture stands on its own as its own story. One reaches into outer space, other realms, and deeper into The Endless’ family tree.
The original series had surreal moments but Overture takes it to a whole new level with artist J.H Williams III. Not only does it look fantastic, but he takes his already impeccable storytelling abilities to the next level with inventive page layouts that flow like water over the page.
Death: The High Cost of Living
Written by Neil Gaiman. Art by Chis Bachalo. Published by Vertigo Comics/DC Black Label.
Is Death one of your favourite Sandman characters? If so, her first miniseries, The High Cost of Living is a must-read.
Every hundred years, Death becomes mortal for a day to remind herself about mortality. On this particular day, she meets a teen who’s considering suicide. He’s not depressed or experiencing terrible hardship. The kid is just deeply cynical about everything in the way that pretentious teens can be. Similar to how she was able to talk some sense into Morpheus in classic The Sandman #8, Death shows the teen that the world can be a wonderful place.
BONUS PICK: Death: The High Cost of Living has a follow-up miniseries called Death: The Time Of Your Life.
The Sandman Universe
Written and art by Various. Curated by Neil Gaiman. Published by Vertigo Comics/DC Black Label.
As part of The Sandman’s 30th anniversary, the franchise was born anew with a whole line of new spin-offs known as The Sandman Universe. Curated by Neil Gaiman, these comics each have different creative teams exploring the different corners that he established in the original series. At the same time, the line also folds in classic Vertigo concepts like Hellblazer (John Constantine) and Gaiman’s Books of Magic.
Some notable series from the line include:
- The Dreaming: A series featuring Lucien, Merv, Cain, Abel, Matthew, and others as they try to avoid a crisis while Dream is away.
- The Dreaming: Waking Hours: This 12-issue series that focuses on a nightmare who has fallen in love. It touches on the Shakespearean and Fairie elements of Sandman lore.
- Nightmare Country: This comic follows The Corinthian.
- Hellblazer: Unfortunately, this John Constantine series was canceled way too soon. Still worth checking out!
Find out more about The Sandman Universe here.
Written by Mike Carey. Art by Scott Hampton, Chris Weston, Peter Gross, and Dean Ormston. Published by Vertigo Comics/DC Black Label.
Have you wondered what Lucifer got up to after abdicating the throne of Hell? In this series, you get to find out. Mike Carey and a stable of artists take the kernel of a story that was established in The Sandman and turns it into an expansive series that ended up running for 75 issues.
This slow-burning series revolves around the lead’s devious and cunning plans that build up over several stories. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that it relates to Lucifer’s tumultuous relationship with God. Through this dynamic, Carey uses the series as an opportunity to explore destiny and free will, digging deeper into character motivations.
Mike Carey’s Lucifer is the longest and most critically acclaimed Sandman spin-offs. It comes highly recommended if you’re looking for another meaty series to binge-read.
Other Comics by Neil Gaiman
Beyond The Sandman, Neil Gaiman has written plenty of other notable comics and graphic novels. Take a look below at a few that come highly recommended.
Written by Neil Gaiman. Art by Dave McKean. Published by DC Comics/Vertigo Comics/DC Black Label.
In the late 80s, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean reinvented an obscure 1970s hero Black Orchid as an atypical superhero series. It’s firmly set in the DC Universe – with appearances from Batman, Arkham Asylum, and Lex Luthor. However, it’s a comic more concerned with being a character-driven tale about identity and personal connection. The result is an early example of how superhero storytelling can be a vehicle for other kinds of narratives without the need to explicitly deconstruct the whole subgenre.
The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch
Written by Neil Gaiman. Art by Dave McKean. Published by Gollancz/Vertigo Comics.
If you stop to think about it, the Punch and Judy puppet show is rather grim. Clearly made for another time, it’s a tale of violence and abuse, where Mr Punch gets away scot-free with many terrible actions. Neil Gaiman uses the concept to tell a story of family trauma through the eyes of a young boy. While the author contemplates the nature of the puppet show, it’s used as a reflection of the actions of the adults in the boy’s life – something that he slowly pieces together but never fully comprehends.
Dave McKean opts for a mixed-media approach on this graphic novel akin to his The Sandman covers. He uses a combination of models, photography, and painting to create a moody and unnerving aesthetic. For instance, real puppets are used to reenact scenes. This allows him to capture their qualities while showing that the family trauma they represent is real.
Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
Written by Neil Gaiman. Art by Andy Kubert. Published by DC Comics.
Published after Batman’s “death” in Final Crisis, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? is a love letter to Batman. In a similar way that Gaiman used The Sandman to explore the meaning of stories, he uses them to take a retrospective look at The Dark Knight and what he means to those in the DC Universe as well as the reader.
Andy Kubert homages dozens of classic Bat-artists through the decades. For long-time fans, it’s an opportunity to spot as many references as possible. For others, it’s a chance to find “their Batman” and reflect on what Batman means to them.
Written by Neil Gaiman. Art by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove. Published by Marvel Comics.
When it comes to the Big 2 publishers of comics, Neil Gaiman is better known for working with DC Comics. However, he had a short stint at Marvel Comics in the 2000s. Marvel 1602 is one of the more interesting projects during his short tenure.
The miniseries explores a simple question – what if Marvel’s heroes first appeared in the year 1602? Gaiman and Kubert answer that by reimagining the characters through an Elizabethan lens. The comic dives into this period in many ways. Costuming is one of the most obvious, with the heroes dressed in outfits of the time but with a unique flair that’s associated with them e.g. Matthew Murdock wearing a blindfold. Gaiman also has fun with the casting by including historical figures such as Queen Elizabeth I and Virginia Dare alongside the heroes.
Neil Gaiman Adaptations
Beyond comics, Neil Gaiman has written dozens of novels and short stories throughout his career. Many of them have been adapted into comics by some very talented artists.
Snow, Glass, Apples
Original short story by Neil Gaiman. Adapted and art by Colleen Doran. Published by Dark Horse Comics.
Snow, Glass, Apples is a sexually-charged reimagining of the fairy tale Snow White. This version subverts what readers know by taking familiar elements and flipping them. For instance, it’s told from the stepmother’s point of view with Gaiman flipping her alignment, casting her the hero and Snow White as the villain. As a result of this, the story explores darker themes.
Colleen Doran adapts this story with beautiful detail inspired by Irish artist Harry Clake. Her art has a stained glass window quality, with seamless compositions which don’t rely on traditional panel layouts. Taking further inspiration from Clark, Doran adds intricate patterns that make the book feel lush.
The Graveyard Book
Original story by Neil Gaiman. Adapted by P. Craig Russell. Art by Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, David Lafuante, and Stephen B. Scott. Published by HarperAlley.
The Graveyard Book is a middle-grade novel about a boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery ghoulies. After growing up learning their customs, can he find the balance between the living world and the dead when he needs it the most?
It has been adapted into two graphic novels, each covering half of the story. Each of the excellent artists on the roster takes on a chapter and offers their unique take on Gaiman’s story. The result is a visually rich way to enjoy the novel for fans or first-time readers.
How To Talk To Girls At Parties
Original short story by Neil Gaiman. Adapted and art by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. Published by Dark Horse Comics.
When you’re a teenager, the opposite sex can seem like their from another planet. Neil Gaiman took that literally with his short story How To Talk To Girls At Parties when two teenage boys meet some girls at a party and get way more than they bargained for.
With beautiful art by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, How To Talk To Girls At Parties is a humorous romp that will take you back to your teenage years.
Comics That Neil Gaiman Loves
I’ve listed plenty of Neil Gaiman work throughout this list. But what about the comics he has read and loved? Here are a few that he has mentioned throughout the years.
Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing
Written by Alan Moore. Art by Stephen Bissette and John Totleben. Published by DC Comics/Vertigo Comics.
Alan Moore’s approach to Saga of the Swamp Thing made an impact on Neil Gaiman. So much so that he has stated, “that was the final straw, what was left of my resistance crumbled. I proceeded to make regular and frequent visits to London’s Forbidden Planet shop to buy comics.” It also sparked a friendship between Gaiman and Moore, with the latter becoming a mentor to the former.
Before Moore took on Swamp Thing, the series was close to cancellation. With that in mind, he was given free rein to do almost anything he liked with the book. The result was a reinvention of the character from a swamp creature to becoming an avatar for the elemental force known as The Green. Through this interpretation, the comic explored the meaning of identity, environmentalism, emotional connection, and more through the lens of horror stories.
Alec: The Years Have Pants
Written and art by Eddie Campbell. Published by Top Shelf Productions.
In the back material of The Sandman: Overture, Vertigo editor Shelly Bond asks Neil Gaiman what three comics he would take into outer space. Along with the next pick in this list and The Complete Will Eisner Spirit, Gaiman chose Eddie Campbell’s autobiographical masterpiece Alec: The Years Have Pants.
Campbell presents a version of his life through his alter ego “Alec MacGarry”. The comic details the moments in his life with profound observation and a hint of metafiction to include everything from his quest for love, wild nights at the pub, experiencing art, and much more.
The Bojeffries Saga
Written by Alan Moore. Art by Steve Parkhouse. Published by Tundra, Knockabout Books, and Top Shelf Productions.
The third of the previously mentioned list of comics Gaiman would take into outer space is The Bojeffries Saga. A riff on The Munsters, the comic follows the misadventures of a family which happens to include a vampire, a werewolf, and a radioactive baby. Alan Moore is at his funniest with a chaotic sense of humour that’s in vein with his D.R and Quinch series.