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Neil Gaiman Relayed A Gut-Punch Of A Conversation That Showed Him Why Comic Book Fans Get So Emotionally Invested

After three decades, The Sandman has finally descended upon streaming devices near you on Netflix. All 10 episodes of the first season are available for the streaming with Tom Sturridge taking on Dream in a lugubrious way, Gwendoline freaking Christie portraying Lucifer, and Patton Oswalt (who came by his devotion honestly) plucking up the voice of Matthew the Raven.

Naturally, author Neil Gaiman headed out to do the publicity rounds. He popped up on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, where they enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation. Also! Maron’s episode introduction included details of how he has spent “time with The Sandman,” and that time coincided with drug use. The combination led him to believe that both Hellblazer (by Alan Moore) and The Sandman were “journalism,” which… it happens. It was a candid and delightful admission that Gaiman apparently enjoyed.

“I love that you discovered Sandman at a time when you need it,” Neil declared. “And I love that it gave you what you needed at the time that you needed it.” He went on to describe an interaction with a particularly invested Superman fan:

“It matters so much to them. I remember a guy, a comics fan who’s dead now, talking to him once, and he was complaining about John Byrne changing Superman’s origin story. And this is, we’re taking, 30-something years ago now. But he said to me, ‘John Byrne did all the stuff, and and and and and it just destroyed my life.’ And I said to him, ‘Well, why did it destroy your life? Is it because you were the world’s number man Superman expert, and now you’re not? Or what is it?’”

The fan confessed to Neil, “Well, it’s a bit that, but it’s much more. He brought back Superman’s/Clark Kent’s mom and dad, and they’re dead in the comics. And my mom and dad are both dead, and I can’t bring them back.”

As Neil then realized, “And I certainly thought, ‘You’ve been using Superman all your life as a way of holding onto reality and holding onto the world and using it for order, and the fact that you knew all of this stuff was what gave you protection against the world. And now, something fundamental has changed, and it’s hitting you in an incredibly basic way.’” Boom.

Gaiman then declared that this realization gives him “an incredible amount of sympathy for these people who just get over invested an angry and upset” for people who take the continuity of both Iron Man and Superman and the like very seriously. Because their sense of the world grows threatened, and man, that’s profound. Mind you, Neil Gaiman previously let it be known that he gives “zero f*cks” about fans who complain about casting matters, so please don’t go there with Neil Gaiman.

The Sandman is currently streaming on Netflix.