Associated Press

Deepti Hajela reported the following for the Associated Press today:

NEW YORK (AP) – It’s a fan’s dream come true: the Sandman is back.

Seven years after he stopped writing his ground-breaking, history-making comic book series, author Neil Gaiman has returned, once again telling stories about Morpheus, the King of Dreams, and his six siblings, collectively known as the Endless.

“The Sandman: Endless Nights” was released last week to mark the 10th anniversary of Vertigo comics, the publisher of the series during its run in the 1990s. The new book is a collection of seven short stories, one for each member of the Endless, illustrated by artists from around the world.

While Gaiman has written a prose story about Morpheus since the series ended, this was the first time he returned to the comic book form. He admitted to a slight case of nerves, but said he soon felt right back at home with the characters.

“I felt, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve missed you people, this is so much fun,'” Gaiman said. The author is in New York City this weekend to speak about “Endless Nights” at the New York Is Book Country festival.

Gaiman started writing the Sandman comics in 1989, and finished in 1996 after 75 issues. Along the way, he revolutionized the whole genre, introducing a piece of work that stood out for its quality writing and adult themes rather than superheroes in costumes.

“‘Sandman’ has been the key book that really got Vertigo noticed, and not only Vertigo but literary comics in general,” said Karen Berger, vice president and executive editor at Vertigo, which is part of DC Comics.

Berger, who worked as Gaiman’s editor, invited him to be part of Vertigo’s anniversary celebration when planning started two years ago.

“When you look and you say, ‘Can comics be considered as literature?’, you look at Sandman and say yes,” Berger said.

The series broke all kinds of preconceptions: It brought in non-traditional fans, like women, to the comic book world. It won every major comic book award. And most telling, it still sells a LOT of copies.

“It was a demographics-buster in terms of the normal comic book fan you think of,” said Matt Brady, editor of Newsarama.com, a Web site dedicated to the comic book world. “It really helped to open the doors for comics as they are today.”

“For me, it’s something that I started 14 years ago,” Gaiman said. “But for so many people it’s completely new, and people are coming to it all the time.”

For the new book, Gaiman was able to work with a host of artists who had never worked with him. He also moved away from solely focusing on Dream to telling tales from the perspective of the other members of the Endless — Death, Destiny, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium.

“When I was writing Sandman … I always felt that sometime the others got short shrift,” he said.

And it was also a chance to step away from the novels and other prose works he’s concentrated on since the series ended.

“When I’m writing a novel, I find myself missing comics,” he said.

After working on “Endless Nights” for the last two years, Gaiman is heading back to prose. He is contracted to write two books, which means saying goodbye to Dream and the Endless for at least the immediate future.

“I have to put my novelist hat back on,” Gaiman said. But “when my novelist hat comes off again, I will look around and blink and call Karen and say, ‘OK, what are we doing now?'”

Mind you, I don’t know whether this actually appeared in Newsday‘s print edition or not, but it would be really neat if it did; that’s been my local paper most of my life.

And yes, I will put up a post about the very very very very very long signing at the Equitable Center, but probably tomorrow, when I am making a bit more sense. From a person waiting on line from midday to six sorta perspective, though, I have nothing but kudos for everyone involved for making it very casual, and a lot of fun.