Author and comic book creator Neil Gaiman is celebrating the adaptation of his classic graphic novel series The Sandman into a critically acclaimed audible series with a formidable cast of voice talent, including James McAvoy, Michael Sheen, Riz Ahmed, Justin Vivian Bond, Arthur Darvill, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, William Hope, Josie Lawrence, Miriam Margolyes, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, and Andy Serkis. In an interview with Collider, Gaiman revealed that the response to the audio series, which hews very closely to the source material, allows him to test what changes can and should be made to the narrative for the upcoming live-action Netflix adaptation of The Sandman.

"In a scientific experiment, this would be the control [group]. It's like, "Okay, here's the one where we're not going to change anything. We're going to adapt it, but we're going to keep it the same." This allows Allan Heinberg and David Goyer and I to have conversations where I can actually say, "Ah, okay, now if you want to do that, we've done that in the Audible version, and this is how it works. But I think maybe we could actually take it over here or maybe we could do this."
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Adaptations of existing works are just as often doomed as they are saved by sticking too closely to the source material. While The Watchmen movie was criticized for its slavish visual adherence to the comic panels of the original graphic novel, to the detriment of other aspects of storytelling, Game of Thrones caught a lot of heat for straying too far from the source material in later seasons. For Neil Gaiman, revisiting the series through its new incarnation on audible is a good opportunity to decide what can be changed and what must be kept the same for the live-action adaptation.

"And it's very liberating actually, having one that is the pure control that means that we know where the doors are open for Netflix and where we can go, "Okay, well, this character is male in the original, is there any particular reason why this character has to be male? Oh, there was no point at which this character desperately needs to use their penis to stir tea or something. Let's change that and see." And you just get to start playing and then that takes you to really interesting places too."

So while fans of The Sandman can rest assured the Netflix adaptation will hew closely to the spirit of the graphic novel, since Gaiman himself is one of its showrunners, expect there to be some surprises when it comes to specific plot points in the narrative.

"I think that if you are somebody who loves the original comics, you will love the Netflix series. And I think if you are somebody who knows the original comics, well, you will have an absolute advantage plot-wise in the Netflix series. But much like something like Game of Thrones, while you will have an advantage, you will not always be one step ahead. You will have an advantage, but there may well be places where we go and do something that you are really not expecting or where we go and go, "Okay, well, that was how we did it. We've already done that. What would happen if we did this instead?"

This news originated at Collider.

Neeraj Chand