Neil Gaiman says his return to Vertigo Comics' realm of the Endless is no mere continuation of the series that spawned a creative revolution altering the medium.
Instead, "The Sandman: Overture" is a chance to do the "weird things" and "different things" that he never got to explore in writing the best-selling and critically lauded series.
The bi-monthly series, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, comes out Oct. 30, under the Vertigo banner, an imprint of DC Entertainment.
It's the latest achievement for the British-born author whose writing has endeared him to critics and fans in literature — his 2013 novel "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" was a best-seller — television and, yes, comic books.
The intense interest in the new series, 25 years after "Sandman" No. 1 was released, is such that the cover to Comic-Con's official guide, given to every attendee, featured the new title.
In an interview at Comic-Con International, Gaiman said that with the new title, he's "definitely doing weird things, different things, doing stuff that I just never really got to do, never got to explore" in the "Sandman" series.
"The closest I ever got to the stuff I'm doing in 'Sandman' was in 'Endless Nights.' I got to do one story, the dream story — drawn by Miguelanxo Prado — set in the dawn of time which had more weird crossovers with the DC universe than, perhaps, anything I've written."
The "Overture" series is "kind of like that," he said.
"It has that kind of peculiar space opera feel to it and it's also very much set in 1916 in Edwardian England at war. We get to meet beloved characters and loathed characters in a form we've not seen them before, but we also get to go across the universe," he said.
Gaiman said he wanted to inspire Williams and readers, too, with the story.
"You do your best to write the most fantastic script you can for the most amazing artist," Gaiman said.
"You want to write a script that not only tells the artist what to draw but also in some ways if you can inspire the artist. You want to get their best work out of them and you want them to be excited and inspired and thrilled and go, 'Oh, my God, I get to draw that! Nobody else in the world has ever drawn that but I get to draw this and people are going to be amazed!'"
Moore reported from Philadelphia. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/mattmooreap
Vertigo Comics: http://www.vertigocomics.com/