“The Sandman” Speaks: Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg on the Glories of Their Graphic Novel

Neil Gaiman at the exhibit

The Cartoon Art Museum's exhibit, “Grains of Sand: 25 Years of The Sandman,” celebrates Neil Gaiman's comic-book series like never before. For the first time, original proofs of pre-publication pages are on display alongside original art from the series, which is considered one of the most important graphic novels ever published.

The exhibit runs through April 27, and when it opened, SF Weekly spoke face-to-face with Gaiman and, by email, with artist Mike Dringenberg, who drew many of the early Sandman issues. Here are excerpts from those interviews:

Q for Neil Gaiman: As you look back at the series, how does it stand out for you in terms of innovation, style of art, and other ways?

A: What really stands out for me is just the fact that, somehow, we managed to hit a level of quality that, with some ups and downs, we maintained over seven-and-a-half years. And we never did what people expected. It's amazing just walking through here, it's like traveling in time — seeing the original art, which I had never really seen. For Sandman 1, watching what that evolved into. Watching Mike Dringenberg come into his own. By the time we get over here, we're into Stan Woch, and ink by Dick Giordano. We're into Bryan Talbot, ink by Stan Woch. And it's so interesting. Sometimes a rather wonderful thing that happens with original art — it wasn't actually created to last through time. He was using essentially a marker. It's 20 years, and it's faded. Twenty-two years ago. It adds a strange color to it that was not there in the original.


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