The 1990s graphic novel did it before the industry even started to care about representation.
This time, pretty much every single casting decision is driven by reason and approved by the canon. The show's cast is pretty diverse, featuring women, people of color, and even a non-binary person. And neither of them is a bow to what is seen by some critics as "woke agenda", with Gaiman himself, as well as an army of old-school Sandman fans, being able to explain why the casting choice make sense.
"We didn't really change anything, that was how they were when I wrote them, that's always how I've written characters," Gaiman told The Queer Review.
Now that a certain number of social media users threaten to boycott the Netflix adaptation over it being "woke", Gaiman admits this is not the first time conservative audience takes issue with a wide range of queer characters he introduced. Some time earlier, Gaiman said he received a letter from the group named "Concerned Mothers of America". The mothers urged him to repent and threatened to boycott the series, but the author never repented, and the novel only did better in sales.
Today, with Lucifer being portrayed by a woman (which falls in line with the ambiguity of the character's gender identity in the comics), and Desire being non-binary (yet again, on the same page with Gaiman), the author is as confident in his story as he was before.
"When I was writing it — and today — I had gay friends and I had trans friends. I wanted to see them represented in the comics that I was writing and it felt to me like if I wrote comics and left them out, then I wouldn't be representing my world, or the world that I was in, or the world I was perceiving accurately, bravely, or truly. And that's the point of art. So for me, it was just a given," Gaiman explained.
When it comes to online critics taking issue with Gwendoline Christie (Lucifer), Mason Alexander Park (Desire), or Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Death), Gaiman does not shy away from fending them off straight away.
According to him, those grilling 'The Sandman' casting decisions can hardly be called true fans of the series, because if they were invested in the story, they would realize that every casting decision just aligns well with the source material. One can always check out Gaiman occasionally clapping back at fierce critics on his Twitter – to great joy of 'The Sandman' crew.
'The Sandman' premieres on Netflix on August 5.