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.