Since the original publication of The Sandman comic series, the adventures of Dream (also known as Morpheus) and his six Endless siblings, Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destruction, and Destiny, have had a fervent queer fanbase. Similar to how LGBTQ people are drawn to the X-Men, the readers felt a familiarity with the fantastical and otherworldly characters of The Sandman universe, who exist outside of the everyday human world.
When The Sandman first hit comic stands back in the late '80s, it was one of the only comics with queer characters and storylines, and the new Netflix series stays true to the source material with multiple LGBTQ characters, same-sex hookups, and relationships, not to mention John Cameron Mitchell as a drag queen, an appearance from out screen legend Stephen Fry, and a creepy gay serial killer known as the Corinthian.
The Sandman has had a devoted LGBTQ fanbase almost since its early days of publication, but when did the series' writer and creator Neil Gaiman first realize that LGBTQ readers were devouring his tale of Morpheus?
"Probably somewhere in the very early '90s," the acclaimed American Gods author tells Logo. "Because two things were happening when the comics were coming out: The first ever [convention] signings that I did for Sandman, the people at the signings were uniformly white male and between the ages of 15 and 21 because those were the only people who went to comic book stores."
"Then over the next couple of years, that started changing," Gaiman explains. "And very soon there was a 50/50 gender balance going on and I would have large, sweaty, unshaven men coming up to me at conventions saying, 'You brought women into my store, in my comic book store. No women had ever come into my store and you brought the women into my store, man. I got to shake your hand.' And so there would be a lot of that.
"And even with that, the people in the [signing] lines, I would be starting to meet more and more LGBT people who were just not the kind of people who would ever read comics, but they were finding Sandman and they were finding themselves in Sandman," he continues. "That was huge. And for me, I'd put all of the LGBT people in there because they were my friends and I wanted Sandman to reflect the world that I lived in. And if I'd not put gay characters in, if I hadn't put lesbian characters in, if I didn't have trans people in, it would've been untrue to my world. So it just seemed like something that I would take for granted. I wanted it to be about people and everybody seemed to respond to that."
Tom Sturridge, the British actor who plays the title character in the Netflix adaptation, tells Logo he was aware of the comics' queer fanbase, explaining "it's extraordinary how ahead of its time it is. In its exploration of that community of gender in general, of representation of women, of all kinds of sexuality."
"It was kind of mind-blowing to think that Neil first began writing it in 1989 where obviously the world was a different place, but yes, I think I was fully aware of it through the reading of it," Sturridge continues. "Then as far as friends go, actually, it's only been since I've started doing press for it because I didn't really talk about it that much, no one really knew what I was doing, but now people have reached out and it's astonishing how important it is to so many different kinds of people."
Another important character who appears halfway through the original Sandman run is Wanda, who is introduced in the story arc, "A Game of You," which tells the story of Barbie (who has a small role in the Netflix series) and her group of friends in New York. Wanda is a close friend of Barbie, and Gaiman assures us if the streamer renews The Sandman for a second season that fans will get to see Wanda brought to life on the screen:
"Oh, yes, absolutely. Wanda is an absolutely integral part of The Sandman universe and 'A Game of You,'" he explains. "And if we're lucky enough to make Season 2, Wanda will be a huge, huge part... It's going to be so much fun casting fabulous trans actors."
In addition to Wanda, someone else who could make a cameo in an upcoming season is piano goddess Tori Amos, who has been friends with Gaiman since the early '90s. Amos discovered The Sandman comics through a friend, and worked references to the characters into her songs, like "Tear In Your Hand" where she sings about "hanging out with the Dream King."
Amos' music has been a gateway for her devoted queer fanbase to discover Gaiman's work — in addition to Amos' lyrical Easter eggs, readers have also noted the similarities between Amos and Delirium. When asked if there was ever a conversation to have the singer involved with the Sandman production, either through a cameo or contributing a song as she did for the Good Omens Amazon adaptation, Gaiman teases we might hear her if the series continues.
"Let's put it this way: In the Sandman comic, when you get into 'Brief Lives,' right at the beginning, 'Tear In Your Hand' is playing in the background and I could not imagine not asking Tori for the rights to have 'Tear' playing during that sequence because it would just feel like we were betraying it. I'm actually getting really nervous and excited because I want to send Tori a link so that she can get a little headstart on everybody and watch Sandman."
After these teases from Gaiman, hopefully the dreams of The Sandman Season 2 become a reality.