David Allen Green wondered How Neil Gaiman kept control of the Sandman characters:
The character ‘Death’ has not become a member of the Justice League, and “Destruction’ has not been brought out of retirement to battle with Darkseid and Dr Manhattan.
Neil Gaiman explained that, basically, “I’ve always been aware that [Warner Brothers studio, the owners of DC Comics] own the characters I created for them when I was 26, and legally can do whatever they want with them. But I’ve tried to make it a more attractive proposition for them to work with me than to end the working relationship, and they’ve always stepped up.”
At the moment, between his involvement in the various TV and audio adaptations1 of his work Gaiman must be feeling as if he’s cracked it. But he’s also sufficiently aware of the history of the comics industry to understand how frequently creators are disappointed by the fate of their creations in others’ hands. It’s overwhelmingly likely that one day the Corporation currently running DC Comics will decide to hand some future whizzkid the rights to the Endless and tell them to have at it.
The best we can hope for is that a) this happens after Neil Gaiman has passed on, so he doesn’t have to see the big-screen versions of Dream and his sister Death2 envisioned by some hack and have to struggle to come up with a diplomatic response, and b) by some small miracle the result is at least an interesting addition to the story of the Endless. Less Zack Snyder’s take on the Justice League, more the Damon Lindelof take on Watchmen.
- Showrunner on the Good Omens TV adaptation, producer on the impending Netflix version of the Sandman series, cast as the Narrator in the Dirk Maggs-produced audiobook of the Sandman series, producer on the TV adaptation of American Gods. Even the latter experience must be somewhat reassuring, insofar as even though it’s been cancelled before it reached the end the experience of working on a major show based on his work has to suggest that Gaiman has some handle on what it takes to put his brand of fantasy on screen, of how it’s never as simple as throwing money at a project to convert a story from one medium to another. ↩
- It’s unclear whether the other Endless have enough mass market profile to show up. Maybe they’ll get to appear in a cameo at the start or end, just for the sake of reminding everyone who has the rights to them. ↩