This week, Netflix revealed a first look at its highly anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman comics — kind of. Rather, we saw a behind-the-scenes preview given by none other than Gaiman himself, who toured the U.K.-based Shepperton Studios where the fantasy-horror series is being made. And in that behind-the-scenes video, Gaiman was introduced to all sorts of props and pieces of concept art as he explored the set.
But were there any Easter eggs or details we could glean from the short behind-the-scenes video? More than you think.
A Handful of Dust, Playing Doll, and a Volleyball
In one shot of Gaiman being shown the props from the TV series, we can see a copy of A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, the pink book to the left. The novel follows a man who is betrayed by his wife and joins an expedition to the jungle, only to find himself imprisoned by a madman — a nice parallel to the imprisonment of Dream (Tom Sturridge) at the beginning of the series by occultist Roderick Burgess (to be played by Game of Thrones‘ Charles Dance), the Lord Magus of the Order of the Ancient Mysteries. Gaiman confirmed earlier that “The Netflix version is going to begin in 2021, so Morpheus will have been kept prisoner in the Netflix version for 105 years rather than 70 years,” so hopefully Dream will be allowed some light reading to pass the time.
Also on the prop table is a doll’s table, perhaps a very literal reference to the The Doll’s House, AKA the second volume of The Sandman, which season 1 is set to adapt alongside the first volume of the series, Preludes & Nocturnes. The first arc of The Doll’s House follows Rose Walker (Kyro Ra) as she searches for her younger brother, Jed, who is partially trapped in the Dreaming.
Behind a vintage white briefcase, we see what looks like a volleyball, which might allude to the the first appearance of Dream’s sister Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), who catches a soccer ball while meeting her latest victim.
Jessamy the Raven
Here, Gaiman plays with a puppet of Jessamy the Raven, a raven who served Morpheus/Dream centuries ago and acts as the predecessor to Matthew the Raven, who plays a more pivotal part in the series (but is all black instead of having a large white stripe). Later in the video, we do see a prop of Matthew (who will be voiced by Patton Oswalt), a Golden Age DC Comics character who was the deceased ex-husband of Abigail Arcane from Swamp Thing, whose death while in the Dreaming allowed Dream to reincarnate him as a talking raven who serves as his most loyal companion.
Pouch of Sand
The first of Dream’s symbols of power, the sand pouch ends up in the possession of John Constantine, who then gifts it to an old girlfriend while Dream was captured by Roderick Burgess. But the sand, which had the ability to conjure dreams, had powerful addictive qualities, the extent of which we’ll see in the series.
The second of his symbols of power, Dream’s Helm was crafted by Dream from the spine and skull of a god and serves as his sigil. During Dream’s imprisonment, the helm falls into the hands of a demon named Choronzon, which is what brings Dream down to the depths of Hell during his mission to recover his symbols of power.
The Dream Ruby
The third and last of his symbols, the Dream Ruby is the most powerful of the Dreamstones crafted by Dream and is at the center of the most disturbing arc in the comics. We’ll just say it falls into the hands of psychopathic John Dee/Doctor Destiny (David Thewlis), and leave it at that.
Glimpses of Hell, the Dreaming, and a Diner
Speaking of John Dee, there is a glimpse of the 24-hour diner where he wreaks his worst and most disturbing havoc. It’s buried at the bottom of a shot full of concept art for important settings in the series, which includes Lucifer’s throne room in Hell, the gates of Hell, and various images of the Dreaming.
Slight spoilers for this one: this is the infamous “Cereal Convention” at the Empire Hotel, which is not actually a convention for the breakfast food but a gathering of serial killers. One of the attendees is the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), a rogue Nightmare created by Dream who finds a taste for human flesh (specifically in the eye region).
Here is a shot of Gaiman wandering the Undercroft, the chamber in which Dream is imprisoned by Roderick Burgess inside the round glass prison suspended in the center. There are a couple more high-definition shots of the room, along with the runes that the occultists used to summon Dream to the mortal plane (intended originally to summon his sister, Death).
Dream Breaks Out
There’s a nice side-by-side of the concept art of Dream breaking out of his prison next to the same scene from the comics — and he is noticeably more clothed in the concept art than in the comics. (Sorry to all you Tom Sturridge fans.) Other than that, it’s an almost exact replica, which shows how determined the creators are to make a loyal adaptation.
The Magdalene Grimoire
In this shot, Gaiman flips through pages of the Magdalene Grimoire, the ancient magic tome which Roderick Burgess and his occultists use to summon Dream — again, intending to trap Death.
Gregory and Goldie
Lastly, we see some of the creatures of the Dreaming, including a cast of Goldie, Abraham’s pet gargoyle, and concept art of Gregory, the larger green gargoyle owned by Cain. In the back are a few puppets of Matthew the Raven. Behind Gaiman, we can also see some concept art of the guardians of the Dreaming, including a Wyvern, a Griffin, and a Hippogriff.
There is no release date yet for The Sandman. Let’s hope we get a full trailer soon, because these details are very exciting.
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