‘The Sandman’: Is the Netflix Series Based on a Book?

The Sandman just made its debut on Netflix, and the series has already climbed to the front of the streamer’s Top 10 in the U.S. Starring Tom Sturridge, The Sandman delivers a dark and fantastical story reminiscent of a sprawling fantasy novel. But is The Sandman actually based on a book? Read on to learn what inspired the new Netflix series.

What is ‘The Sandman’ on Netflix?

Tom Sturridge as Morpheus/Dream in 'The Sandman,' which is based on a comic book series. He's wearing a long, black coat and standing before a field. Matthew the Raven is next to him.
Tom Sturridge as Dream in ‘The Sandman’ | Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix

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Those who hadn’t heard of The Sandman before it made its way onto Netflix may be wondering what the series is all about. The show follows the Lord of Dreams, Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) — also known as Dream — as he attempts to restore his realm to its former glory.

Dream is captured by a mage at the beginning of The Sandman, and his imprisonment keeps him away from home for decades. When he finally returns to the Dreaming, it’s in a state of disrepair. Nearly all of his dreams and nightmares have gone elsewhere, and he’s lost the artifacts that enhance his powers.

The Sandman Season 1 sees Dream tracking down his subjects and his tools, all while dealing with threats to the Dreaming and the waking world. There’s a lot going on in the first batch of episodes, and he comes into contact with many intriguing characters — including his siblings, the other Endless. Most of them are pulled straight from the pages of the source material: the comic book series The Sandman is based on.

Is ‘The Sandman’ based on a book?

The Sandman boasts a large cast of characters and a complex story, both of which may leave viewers wondering if the Netflix series is based on a book. The answer is yes. In fact, The Sandman is the adaptation of a DC comic series written by Neil Gaiman. The source material is set in the DC Comics universe, but the Netflix show doesn’t have any relation to Warner Bros. Discovery’s DCEU.

The Sandman comic series consists of 10 main volumes, which contain what originated as weekly chapters. If you’re hoping to read the entire series, here’s what order to pick them up in:

  • Vol. 1 – Preludes & Nocturnes
  • Vol. 2 – The Doll’s House
  • Vol. 3 – Dream County
  • Vol. 4 – Season of Mists
  • Vol. 5 – A Game of You
  • Vol. 6 – Fables & Reflections
  • Vol. 7 – Brief Lives
  • Vol. 8 – World’s End
  • Vol. 9 – The Kindly Ones
  • Vol. 10 – The Wake

Fans can also find these volumes bound together. As GQ notes, The Absolute Sandman and The Annotated Sandman both condense all ten volumes into four hardcover books, the latter of which contains annotations about the series. Additionally, The Sandman Omnibus binds the entire story together in two huge books.

There have also been a number of spinoffs to The Sandman comics over the years, some written by Neil Gaiman and others not. Those looking to dive into the world of the Netflix series probably want to start with the main series, then look into the spinoffs if they enjoy those.

The Netflix series comes after several attempts to adapt the comic books

Since the series’ debut in 1989, The Sandman has accumulated a massive fanbase — and an adaptation of the comic books was a long time in the making. Netflix isn’t the first company to consider bringing Neil Gaiman’s story to life. In fact, Polygon reports that Warner Bros. considered a movie adaptation in the 1990s, an idea Gaiman was opposed to.

Apparently, Gaiman had a grander vision for bringing Dream’s story to the screen, one he finally got to realize with Netflix. But Polygon notes that several other creators toyed with the idea of an adaptation over the years, including The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke and director James Mangold. A movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also announced in 2013, but due to a series of setbacks, that never took off either.

In the end, it seems Netflix’s version of The Sandman was destined to tackle Gaiman’s books. Whether it’ll live up to the decades of hype remains up to fans. Fortunately, they can finally check it out.

The Sandman Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.

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