The Sandman 25th Anniversary Panel had a really interesting moment at the end.
Neil Gaiman turned to Sam Kieth, who was the original artist on the series, and asked him how he feels about the property. What does he think about this thing that they started 25 years ago that still hasn’t gone away?
The question seemed to make Kieth uncomfortable, and he finally said the following:
“It’s kind of like being in the first 15 minutes of ‘Citizen Kane.’ All this good stuff, and all these great artists, came later, and suddenly you end up feeling venerated just because you said, ‘Hey, here’s a sled.’”
“Like it or not, ‘The Sandman’ will stay with you if you draw it,” Kieth said.
He said that he personally felt so proud with “The Maxx” because he “was carving something out for myself.” And certainly that property had its own cross-cultural success, with an animated series on MTV at one point.
But Kieth said that he couldn’t believe that Gaiman was not only getting so famous because of Sandman, but also so good (presumably as a storyteller and writer). Kieth found that inspiring. But it just kept getting bigger, and he seemed to struggle with his own role in the origin of the project.
“When the fans come up they put it all in perspective,” Kieth said. “Maybe some part of my reptilian brain can finally appreciate that I had some hand in it.”
Gaiman was quick to jump in, “You helped to create it. You created the look.”
And then, unfortunately, the panel ended. But it was an interesting moment with two creators who helped to create a property together, but ended up with substantially different trajectories.