The Sandman Directors Speak Out on Keeping the Bonus Episode True to the Comics

Last week, Netflix surprised fans of The Sandman with the release of an unexpected new episode, a two-part offering that featured an animated adaptation of "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" from The Sandman #18 and a live-action adaptation of "Calliope" from The Sandman #17. Fans were delighted with the episode, which saw each part remain fairly true to their comics inspirations, albeit in their own slightly different ways. spoke with Hisko Hulsing, who directed "A Dream of a Thousand Cats", and Louise Hooper, who directed "Calliope", and both explained how their portions of the episode honored the source material.

For Hulsing, it was more the story that honored the comics as opposed to the visual style.

"What happened was that I read the comic, too, and I loved it. But I realized that we, I mean, it is very truthful to the story, but I only read the comic once. And then what happened was Allan Heinberg, one of the showrunners, he wrote a compressed version of the story as a script. And I use the scripts, that's what I usually do with Undone, for instance, the series that I also direct, for the production design. I use the script and start thumbnailing it."

He continued, "Also a comic book, there's a lot of creative freedom with camera angles that will be very confusing with animation. There's different rules for film than for comic books, but we did stay true to the comic because it's very much the same story."

For Hooper, keeping close to the comics was also important, so much so that even specific scenes were lifted right from the page.

"I think always from Allan's point of view and working with Neil [Gaiman] everything was always 'this goes to the comics, always has to be faithful'. And then from that any deviation was for the right reasons. For example, we don't show so much nudity, as you made a comment on. We don't show the rape. There's things where we feel like in 2022, do we need to see that or do we want to, you know, rephrase that slightly. So, Neil is incredible. And that's his vision. So, wherever we can, we will do a homage to the frame. So, for example, there's a shot where she opens the door to find the empty room and Calliope has gone in the books there. That's directly the same shot from the comic, you know, so it's like how can you make that light shot?"

Both stories in the special episode stars Tom Sturridge as Dream with the rest of the guest voice cast for "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" including Sandra Oh as "The Prophet," Rosie Day as "The Tabby Kitten," David Gyasi as "The Grey Cat," Joe Lycett as "The Black Cat," Neil Gaiman as "Crow/Skull Bird," James McAvoy (who voices Dream in Audible's The Sandman audio adaptation) as "Golden-Haired Man," David Tennant as "Don" and Georgia Tennant as "Laura Lynn," Michael Sheen as "Paul" and Anna Lundberg as "Marion," Nonso Anozie as "Wyvern," Diane Morgan as "Gryphon," Tom Wu as "Hippogriff." The story is directed by Hisko Hulsing. 

"Calliope", which tells the story of a muse who has a history with Dream, is directed by Louise Hooper and its guest cast includes Melissanthi Mahut as "Calliope," Arthur Darvill as "Richard Madoc," Nina Wadia as "Fate Mother," Souad Faress as "Fate Crone," Dinita Gohil as "Fate Maiden," Kevin Harvey as "Larry," Amita Suman as "Nora," and Derek Jacobi as "Erasmus Fry." 

The Sandman has been well received by critics, earning a 4-out-of-5 review from "While purists may bemoan some of the changes, they ultimately make for a more cohesive viewing experience that still allows the individual short stories within the grander saga the room needed for viewers to fully appreciate them. The Sandman team has taken Dream's comics and crafted a worthy adaptation of a story that is, after all, about how we take the stuff of dreams and apply it to our lives, our art, and our relationships. And after seeing that tease at the end of Season 1, viewers will almost certainly be dreaming of what comes next."  

The Sandman is now streaming on Netflix.