The Sandman series has something for everyone.
At its heart, is the tragic tale of Dream or Morpheus. Following his imprisonment, he embarks on a quest to regain his magical artifacts and his throne, and rebuilds his realm and identity anew. His tragic redemption arc takes on epic proportions.
Moreover, most of the characters are drawn heavily from mythology, history and folklore and are fascinating in themselves, be it William Shakespeare or Lucifer or even Loki. Plus, there are short fantastical tales interwoven throughout that are engrossing to read in themselves.
And now that there's slated to be a Netflix adaptation of the series, the hype is just too real. So if you haven't read the series yet, it's time to catch up, and if you already have, here are some comics with a similar flavor and aesthetic that you're sure to adore.
10 Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
Let's face it. More than brooding Dream, it was his elder sister, the punk-goth teenager Death that caught people's attention. She wore an ankh necklace, helped consolidate the whole "goth gal" aesthetic in the 90s and replaced the Grim Reaper with a rather cheerful image of Death. She was someone who was just very good at her job and extremely kind and understanding to all her victims.
So if you couldn't get enough of her character in the series, there are two comics written by Gaiman (the other being, Death: The Time Of Your Life) where Death is the central character.
9 Lucifer by Mike Carey
In the Sandman universe, Lucifer was central to the plot. When Dream came to free Nada, his lover whom he had condemned to eternal torment in Hell for refusing to return his love, Dream discovered that Lucifer had abandoned his realm and entrusted the keys to him.
Bored of ruling hell, the fallen angel had moved to earth for a vacation and afterwards, opened a casino where he played the piano each night.
This comic (which has even been made to a TV series) takes that up and takes you on an enthralling ride.
8 Fables by Bill Willingham
As stated before, Gaiman's stories are filled characters from myth, history and pop culture. Barbie and Ken are a yuppie-ish couple, Puck is a mischievous sprite, the Norse gods are preparing for Ragnarok and the Elysian landscape of Fiddler's Green is embodied by none other than G.K. Chesterton.
Another comic series that does something similar is Fables by Bill Willingham that is populated by characters from fairytales - such as Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, The Beast, Rose Red and so on. While some of them have seamlessly adapted to modern life with the non magic folks or the "mundies" the more dangerous of the "fables" are hidden in the "Farm".
Spanning multiple volumes, the series follows their characters and their numerous misadventures.
7 Unwritten By Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Another amazing fantasy series, Unwritten like the Sandman, plays around with the themes of stories, storytelling and the power that stories have over life.
With very distinct Harry Potter vibes, the series follows the adventures of Tommy Taylor who has an uncanny similarity to the protagonist of a best-selling fantasy series written by his father, blurring the lines between what is real and what isn't.
They're pretty fast-paced and full of surprises. For instance to make it more meta, the backstory for one of Tommy's closest friends, is presented in the format of a Choose Your Own Adventure Game.
6 Facts In The Case Of The Departure Of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman
This short story best encapsulates Gaiman's aesthetic: open ended stories that leave you unsettled and wondering as to what happened next, a dark fairytale feel, and a sense of horror that almost borders on the surreal.
Published in one of Gaiman's short story collections, the tale was later adapted to a graphic novel by Michael Zulli and the watercolor style illustrations bring the wondrous story to life.
The tale is told backwards and features a magical circus as well.
5 Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot
For lovers of history, mythology and all things Lewis Caroll, Alice in Sunderland is the book for you. The beautiful tome is written by Bryan Talbot who also worked on The Sandman.
It delves into the origins of the story and into Caroll's life by exploring the myths and legends associated with the local geography of Britain - the Sunderland area- and puts them into context.
Deeply meditative, and backed with stellar art, it is a commentary on the magical nature of storytelling itself. Neither entirely fact nor entirely fiction, this is a curious volume that will leave you feeling wistful.
4 Promethea by Alan Moore
If you love a healthy dose of esoteric magic, spiritual quests and a badass female superhero, then Alan Moore's Promethea series might be right up your alley.
A five-volume work, the series begins with a student looking for the mystical figure of Promethea until she herself takes on that role and begins to channel her powers to fight the bad guys.
But as the series progresses, it gradually moves from the tradition of a female super hero comic and veers more towards the occult symbolism of the Kabalah. Promethea embarks on a journey and traverses the Tree of Life, learning much about the universe and herself in the process.
It's laden with magic and esoteric symbolism but given that Moore is a ceremonial magician himself that is hardly surprising.
3 The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
Originally published as a mini-series, the comic is best suited for younger readers who wish to get a sense of Gaiman's dark fantasy flavor. The story follows a young boy who is given a tour of the entire DC universe and has to choose whether he will accept or reject his destiny to become the greatest magician in the world.
Similar to the Sandman, each issue is drawn by a different artist and features cameos from several familiar faces in the DC universe including John Constantine and the Phantom Stranger.
The success of this comic led to it becoming an ongoing series.
2 Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
If you're looking for a Gaiman-style Gothic horror fest that you can finish in a single sitting, Through the Woods is your perfect companion.
An anthology collection of five distinctive short stories, the book is reminiscent of Brothers Grimm fairytales with an feminist Angela Carter twist.
The stories are short and memorable, especially "A Lady's Hands Are Cold" and "His Face All Red" and the art is equally haunting and evocative.
1 The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
If you love bold neon colors, a splash of pop music and stories involving mythological deities set in a contemporary world, then the Wicked and the Divine is bound to enthrall you. You'll be introduced to the teenager Laura and the Pantheon a group of twelve people who are actually deities reincarnated, and who must die within two years within a 90 year cycle called The Recurrence. The comic has received rave reviews in recent years and is particularly praised for its focus on diverse representation.
So which are your favorite comics of the lot and why?