Gaiman's "Sandman: Overture" Spearheads Vertigo Rebuilding Initiative

When "The Sandman: Overture," the eagerly anticipated prequel by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III, debuts in October, it will be only the first in a wave of new series from Vertigo. The expansion coincides with the 20th anniversary of the mature-readers imprint, which in recent years has appeared diminished by a renewed focus on DC Comics' superhero line, a dwindling lineup, and increased competition from other publishers for both the audience and the creators.

According to The New York Times, the six-issue "Sandman" miniseries will be joined this fall by the launch of five other titles, including: "Hinterkind," written by Ian Edginton, set in a post-apocalyptic world in which creatures of myth and legend have returned: "The Discipline," written by Peter Milligan, described as an erotic thriller about a woman at the center of an eons-spanning shadow war; and "The Dead Boy Detectives," which resurrects the two ghostly schoolchildren introduced in 1991's "The Sandman" #25 and pairs them with a girl.

Neither the full creator lineups nor the names of the other two new titles were revealed in the article. They will join recent Vertigo additions "Astro City," the acclaimed superhero series by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross," Brother Lono," an eight-issue miniseries that reunites Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso and the rest of the "100 Bullets" creative team for a story focusing on one of the survivors of that crime saga, and "The Wake," the 10-issue underwater thriller by Scott Snyder and Sean G. Murphy.

The news arrives a little more than two weeks before Comic-Con International in San Diego, and just three weeks after new Executive Editor Shelly Bond spoke optimistically to The Associated Press for an article that seemed designed to head off any eulogies for the imprint following the departure in March of founding editor Karen Berger. "Now is the greatest time for us to actually broaden the scope," Bond told The AP, "and I think what you'll see is that we're not only going to defy the standards and confines of traditional genre fiction, but I think we're going to redefine the industry standards because we're going to really go deep and dark into areas of psychological horror, dark fantasy, action adventure and even next-wave science fiction and mythic fiction."

Announced last year at Comic-Con, "The Sandman: Overture" (as it's now called) details the events that led Morpheus to be exhausted and so easily captured in 1989's "The Sandman" #1. "It was a story that we discussed telling for "Sandman's" 20th anniversary... but the time got away from us," Gaiman said at the time. "And now, with "Sandman's" 25th anniversary year coming up, I'm delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told."

Edited by Berger, the miniseries will be released bimonthly, alternating with a special edition of each issue that will include additional artwork, thanks to translucent word balloons developed by Todd Klein, creator commentary and character sketches.

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