Comic book writer James Tynion IV just got his Dream gig.

Tynion, one of the biggest authors in comics, who last year announced he was stepping away from DC to focus on creator-owned work, is returning to the publisher for an all-new, ongoing monthly comic set in the company’s Sandman Universe of characters.

The comic, under DC’s Black Label imprint, will not focus on Sandman, the character also known as Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, nor Death, Lucifer or other gods and demons the seminal fantasy series from Neil Gaiman became known for. Instead, it will focus on the horrifying serial killer known as the Corinthian, a walking nightmare created by Morpheus and a cult fan favorite known for his jagged rows of teeth for eyes.

Titled The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country, the horror-fantasy series is being written by Tynion and will be drawn by Lisandro Estherren, who previously did art duty on the horror comic Redneck. Each issue will also feature a guest artist who will create a nightmare dream sequence, with the first being drawn by Yanick Paquette. The debut issue is due to be released April 12.

The Sandman was published by DC from 1989 to 1996, lasting 75 issues. The fantasy won 26 Eisners throughout its run, at times outsold Batman books, and broke out beyond the comic shop crowd to become a mainstream bookstore hit via the collected editions, which have continued to be in print ever since. It helped establish the literary career of the comic’s creator, Gaiman, and proved to be influential in many areas, including on a young Tynion, who said that Sandman is the series that made him want to become a comic book writer.

“I spent my teenage years reading and rereading the volumes of The Sandman, trying to absorb all of their secrets,” Tynion tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The series taught me that anything and everything was possible in the comic book medium, and set me on the inexorable path of becoming a comic book writer.”

With his horror-tinged stories, Tynion has been writing for DC for the last 10 years, moving up its writer ranks to taking over the company’s flagship title, Batman. He also worked on creator-owned works for companies such as Boom! Studios, which is the home of his horror comic, Something Is Killing the Children, one of the biggest-selling independent comics of the last several years. Last summer, the writer made a splashy announcement, saying he had declined to renew his contract with DC and was leaving to create comics for Substack. By the fall, he was off of Batman and was winding down his Joker comic. (He was still, however, in the middle of A Nice House on the Lake, his sci-fi horror miniseries that was a rare creator-owned comic from DC. It was not connected to its superhero line, and proved to be a major hit.) However, returning to work on a Sandman book was too hard to resist.

“To be perfectly honest, I thought I had said everything I wanted to say with other people’s characters, but the moment that [DC editor] Chris Conroy asked me if I was interested in crafting a new story in the Sandman Universe, I knew I couldn’t say no,” Tynion says. “The Dreaming has lived in my head for half of my life. It’s a canvas on which so many stories are possible, and I am humbled to have the chance to make my own mark on it.”

In Nightmare Country, the Corinthian is let loose on the world in order to capture another, more dangerous nightmare, this one not created by the Lord of Dreams. A cat-and-mouse game ensues, one with a net of nightmares that catches not just dreams, but the people who dream them. It’s a journey that promises to cross terrifying corners of America and include true crime aficionados, white supremacist militia camps, galleries specializing in the art of horror and more. DC describes the comic as a terrifying travelogue through a nation both recognizable and obscene.

The series will also introduce two terrifying new characters to the Sandman Universe: Mr. Agony and Mr. Ecstasy, a deadly duo of killers slipping along after the Corinthian’s quarry, killing anyone in their path, including, if they can, the Corinthian himself. The initial storyline is intended to be a thematic sequel to “The Doll’s House,” the second arc of the original comic and when the books began their breakout ascent.

Nightmare Country will be surfing a wave of Sandman awareness thanks to the attention on a couple of recent adaptations. Audible’s audio version of Sandman, focusing on the first three story arcs, was a hit when released last year, while in 2022 Netflix will debut a high-profile, big-budget live-action series.

The new comic is partially intended to capitalize on the renewed interest and act as a way to bring new readers into the land of their dreams. And nightmares.

Check out early design sketches for the characters Agony and Ecstasy below.

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