Neil Gaiman is one of the world's beloved writers and could probably work on any project he wants. And what he wanted to do is go back to his roots in the comic book world.
That's how Gaiman ended up writing "The Sandman: Overture," for DC Entertainment's Vertigo. It was recently released as part of a deluxe edition.
"The idea of celebrating the 25th anniversary of 'Sandman' with a comic was just too good to miss," Gaiman said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The deluxe edition includes a prequel to the original series, showing what happened to the magical lead character Morpheus, who controls all dreams, before "The Sandman" #1. Gaiman said he hopes the re-release will make longtime fans examine the 75-issue run with new eyes.
"(It) would actually make a re-read of the entire Sandman (series) more interesting," Gaiman said.
In the time since the British-born author wrapped up the original run of "The Sandman," Gaiman has collected Newbery and Carnegie medals, Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as acclaim by the "Dictionary of Literary Biography," which called him one of the top 10 living post-modern writers. Meanwhile, he's branched out into novels, films, poetry and audio works.
But if it was up to him, Gaiman, whose other books include "Coraline" and "American Gods," said he would have been writing more comic books.
"For me it's all storytelling," Gaiman said. "If there were a thousand hours in the day, if I had several bodies and all the time I wanted, I would have kept on writing comics as much as I write novels, as much as I write television, as much as I write poems or plays, as much as I write movie screenplays. I would be doing all of them. As it is, it's more about time."
Gaiman, who started out as a journalist and author before entering the comic book world, helped usher in a new, more adult world into the industry with his stories about Morpheus, the series' gloomy central character. The work stood out for its quality writing and adult themes rather than superheroes in costumes. Gaiman is working with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a movie adaption.
Looking back, Gaiman said he felt alone when he started, but since then the comics industry has diversified beyond just male-centered superhero fantasies aimed at children.
"What I love now is that there are so many other kinds of comics out there," he said. "'Sandman' was unique. I'm not sure that you could point to it on the shelves as being unique anymore, and I think that's a really good thing."