What looked to be one of the more quiet Thursday afternoon panels at the San Diego Comic-Con produced probably the biggest story to come from the convention yet. Standing on a stage with some of the most impressive names in comics (including creators like Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Mike Carey, Bill Willingham, Sean Murphy, and more), Vertigo group editor Karen Berger had a bomb to drop: on the 25th anniversary of the series' origins, celebrated fantasy author Neil Gaiman would be returning to the comic book that made him a household name in America. 2013 would usher in brand-new, original Sandman stories.
For anyone who's a fan of Neil, the Sandman, or sophisticated comics in general, this is huge. The next announcement provided the cherry on top: art will be provided by JH Williams III, the brilliant visual mind behind books like Batwoman and Alan Moore's Promethea. Williams is easily one of the best artists working on monthly comics today; it's going to be a real treat to see what he has cooked up for Gaiman's world.
Details about the plot of the forthcoming Sandman series were scarce, but we know this: it's a prequel. In the video linked to below, you'll see Gaiman explain that he'd planted seeds hinting that his main character was up to something major right before he was abducted by the evil Roderick Burgess in Sandman #1. Now we're going to find out what that something is. This new six-issue limited series will therefore end where the Sandman #1 begins, leading some Twitter commentators to joke that DC had found a way to publish "Before Sandman." The difference here is, of course, that in this case the original creator is 100% on-board.
Editor Karen Berger stated that the new Sandman comic should be released some time around Comic-Con next year, though that's a soft deadline. The first issue WILL be out at some point in 2013, though. As for the rest of the announcement, we turn you over to Neil himself.