The Sandman Dream captured

Neil Gaiman First Met Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ Bonus Episode Writer When She Was a Fan at 9 Years Old

Thinking about working on your favorite thing can be daunting. I often think about how writing for Star Wars or anything related to Spider-Man would both be a dream come true and a lot of responsibility to my younger self (you know, with great power and all …). And so it is no surprise that I cried when I read that the bonus episode of Netflix’s The Sandman that was released on August 19, which included two stories (“The Dream of a Thousand Cats” and “Calliope”), was written by a lifelong fan of the franchise who Neil Gaiman himself met as a child.

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Creator of the comics, and the series for Netflix, Neil Gaiman shared the story on his Twitter account after the episode was released. Gaiman wrote that he first met Catherine Smyth-McMullen when she was just nine years old and told him how much of a fan she was of his comics.

“Episode 11 was written by Catherine Smyth-McMullen. I met her first at a convention in 1998 in Tasmania. She was a nine year old Sandman fan. I’d never met a nine year old Sandman fan before. She grew up to be an astonishing screenwriter,” Gaiman wrote on Twitter.

It’s oddly emotional. Think about your favorite franchise and what you’d do if your favorite creator praised your work and you got to write an episode of it? That’s something that even Dream himself couldn’t make up.

Dreams do come true

It is an inspiring story regardless of Smyth-McMullen’s connection to Gaiman from that first fated meeting. Think about how so many fans are now adapting stories they know and love or getting to write their own take on these characters they grew up loving. Those are the kind of stories that I love hearing about because it is something that I think so many of us strive to achieve. I’d love to be able to write for something I grew up loving, with a creator I admire, and Smyth-McMullen proved just how talented of a screenwriter she is.

This bonus episode felt like a twisted cautionary tale, as so much of these stories do, in a way that flowed perfectly with the series as a whole, but also the character of Dream as we’ve known him to be. And the fact that Smyth-McMullen wrote this episode with Gaiman’s praise also feels oddly like a comic book moment.

Often, in comics, fans get to write stories for their favorite characters and get to explore the world they love in that way, and so, seeing that happen with a television show like The Sandman feels right in line with how the series came to be in the first place. This is a story that I hope inspires others to do that thing they’ve always wished they could. I hope more people get to tell the artists who inspire them that they love their work and work with them some day because it just feels right. Art is collaborative and grows with its audience (or at least it should), and this is the sort of full-circle moment that just inspires me.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.