Sunday, 9 August 2009

DC turns down a new SANDMAN series by Neil Gaiman

As you may or may not be aware, the World Science Fiction Convention is taking place in Montreal this weekend. Neil Gaiman is one of the attendees and although I'm not there (due to destitution) a few of my friends are and have reported back on events so far.

Gaiman revealed that last year, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Sandman, he offered DC Comics a new six-issue mini-series set just before issue #1 of the main series. The story would explain what Dream was up to just before his imprisonment, something he'd promised to explain for years but never gotten round to.

DC were, of course, very excited. Sandman is one of the biggest-selling comic books in history, and over 10 million copies of the graphic novels have been sold to date. Sandman is an enormous commodity and Gaiman has been fairly reluctant to do anything more with the character and story since the main series ended in 1996. However, he'd promised his fans he'd tell this story one day and he thought the anniversary was a great opportunity to do it.

Everything seemed set, but when it came to negotiating the contract DC seemed puzzled. They already had a contract, the one Gaiman signed in 1988 when he was jobbing and poor almost-unknown author.

Gaiman and his agent were a bit bemused by this. The multi-million-novel selling, multi-award-winning, New York Times-bestseller-list-topping 2008 vintage Neil Gaiman was under the impression that he was worth a bit more these days. A new Sandman comic would be, without question, the biggest-selling comic of the year for DC (and probably the biggest-selling comic of the year full stop).

He wasn't asking for the moon on the stick, but he was certainly expecting a bit more than what he was making in 1988. But DC were adamant, and in the end the project didn't happen. Because DC didn't want to shell out a bit more money.

I could be wrong, but I believe this is the single most idiotic decision I've heard a comics company in the middle of a recession take so far. A new Sandman comic would be a licence to print money. The only thing that could be bigger is if Moore suddenly announced he was doing Watchmen II.

14 comments:

Joe Sherry said...

Yeah, that's what we in the business* call "stupid"


*any business, really, that's just stupid. The single issues would probably sell like hotcakes and then the trade paperback would sell, and then that would potentially drive additional sales of the original trade papers (as if they needed help).

Hagelrat said...

plain idiotic. like a 20 year old contract wouldn't be renegotiated anyway!

Memory said...

I was shocked when I heard about this. Talk about a dodgy decision. It's sad, too, because now all us hardcore Sandman fans will never get to read that story.

Adam Whitehead said...

Well, it could just be negotiating tactics and DC will come back later with another offer. Whether Neil Gaiman will consider it or not is another question. Maybe for the 25th anniversary in 2013?

Joe Sherry said...

If GRRM writes a blog post titled "Neil Gaiman is not your bitch", my life will be complete.

Carl V. said...

You are completely right, this was a boneheaded move on DC's part. In today's economy you'd think they would be bending over backwards to get this kind of potential money maker out to the public. That they are not is proof that they are certainly not adapting to the times nor making good decisions.

Angelo said...

Well... We don't know how much Neil Gaiman was demanding for this comic. Maybe too much and DC, in this recession, didn't want to take the risk.

Adam Whitehead said...

I think the point is that Neil Gaiman didn't get a chance to talk money, DC just told him to accept the 1988 contract or leave it and that's it.

Inflation by itself would mean that the 1988 contract was no longer acceptable, and given SANDMAN's proven sales and longevity and Gaiman's popularity (greater now than ever before), it was unthinkable that this situation could be allowed to stand.

By way of contrast, if METALLICA went back to their first record label and offered them a new album, do you think it would make sense for them to accept the exact same contract they worked under in 1981?

logankstewart said...

This is super depressing. I recently read through the 4 volume Absolute Sandman and loved every bit of it. I cannot believe DC could be so dull-headed and thick. Well, I can, but I don't want to believe it...

alex said...

Insane. I'm almost disinclined to believe the story in that form, if only because I can't imagine a scenario in which any company would be that boneheaded. It seems like there must be more to it.

bookworm&son said...

you never know. DC may come to their senses in time for the 25th or 30th anniversary of Sandman. LOL. :D

doniek said...

"The only thing that could be bigger is if Moore suddenly announced he was doing Watchmen II." or Ennis doing "Preacher II: Genesis Return"

Anonymous said...

"Gaiman and his agent were a bit bemused by this. The multi-million-novel selling, multi-award-winning, New York Times-bestseller-list-topping 2008 vintage Neil Gaiman was under the impression that he was worth a bit more these days."

Do you seriously believe all the non-stop crap churned out by Gaiman's publicity machine?

Gaiman's last film Coraline only pulled in 60 million when its budget was nearly 100 million, Beowulf also under performed because they blew their wad on top acting talent and didn't make back their nut, Stardust tanked completely and Gaiman had his ass kicked off Blackhole. Gaiman is considered to be an arrogant prick in Hollywood and he is a Scientologist who does not sell alot of books he just gives the illusion of selling books.

Gaiman's grueling book tours are the only reason his books ever get on the NYT list at all and then they quickly fall off.

DC Comics has access to all these figures and more. When people in the industry do the math, Gaiman doesn't offer a solid return, just a lot of hot air.

David H. said...

I know this is an old post, but I thought I'd respond to one comment in case anyone else stumbles across this thread:

"Gaiman's last film Coraline only pulled in 60 million when its budget was nearly 100 million, Beowulf also under performed because they blew their wad on top acting talent and didn't make back their nut, Stardust tanked completely and Gaiman had his ass kicked off Blackhole. Gaiman is considered to be an arrogant prick in Hollywood and he is a Scientologist who does not sell alot of books he just gives the illusion of selling books."

"Coraline": It's the other way around, the budget was $60 million and it took in $124 million--not a loss.

"Stardust": This made twice as much as its budget. How is that tanking?

Scientology: His parents were Scientologists, but Gaiman says he isn't.

You seem to have an odd hate for Neil Gaiman.