You know who is a sweetie-pie? Death. Hey, you don’t have to believe me, but you should believe BOP fave Neil Gaiman. And the idea of Death as the SWILF (scythe-wielder I’d like to...well, you know) is his brainchild, not mine. For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about here, well, now you know how I feel well all of you gather around the water cooler and talk about American Idol.
Anyway, the point I’m circling here is that Gaiman’s epic graphic novel series, Sandman, incidentally introduced several immortal characters, one of which was the not-so-grim reaper. In fact, to Gaiman’s mind, Death is an absolute goddess of love, quite attractive yet affably approachable. This somewhat jarring take represents exactly the sort of creativity that makes Gaiman special, makes him one of the best storytellers in the world. And one of his finest outputs is Death: The High Cost of Living, the Sandman spin-off that gives its title character a chance to live among humans for a brief period.
Once a century, the most attractive member of the Endless is allowed to take human form in order to better understand how our kind live. In Gaiman’s three issue limited series, Death takes the form of Didi, a teen everyone incorrectly assumes is a goth girl. During her incarnation, Didi quickly encounters a suicidal sixteen-year-old named Sexton Furnival. Seizing the opportunity to see the world from his point of view, Didi decides to spend her day with him, making him the first person in the 20th century to be happy about a date with Death.
The dramatic storyline of Death and Me involves the search for a witch’s heart. Didi seeks to find it so that it may be hidden again. This makes sense in context, I swear. The problem occurs when an evil wizard named Eremite discovers the existence of Death in human form. He seeks to steal Death’s necklace, which points to it being an artifact of power similar to Sandman’s totems of power, the helm, the ruby, and the pouch of sand. During the course of these events, Sexton behaves just as any other red-blooded male would in the same situation. He falls for the impossibly perky, upbeat, and compassionate Didi, just as all of Gaiman’s Sandman readers have done.
Obviously, this story is unconventional and probably will not find a ton of mainstream financial success. Stardust, a much more marketable product, managed only $38.4 million domestically (although its worldwide total of $133.1 million is respectable). If that one couldn’t sell, this one will have some problems as well, which explains why the project has struggled in getting off the ground the past few years. It appeared ready to finally go into production in 2007, but the writer’s strike wiped that hope away. Fans of Gaiman couldn’t care less about the revenue prospects of Death: The High Cost of Living, anyway. All we want is to finally see one of The Endless brought to life onscreen, and Death is the preferred choice as the most engaging of the set save for arguably Olethros (formerly known as Destruction).
What makes this production particularly enticing is the idea that Gaiman himself plans to direct. While he has writing credits for the fascinating project MirrorMask as well as his own works, Stardust and Coraline, and a studio outing, Beowulf, he has never helmed a project before. The idea of him adapting one of his best characters in a theatrical adaptation excites us. BOP has made no secret of our adoration of the man’s writing skill over the years (and has been deeply flattered on the handful of occasions where he has said kind words of us in return). We understand that this project will not be for everyone, but our staff is comprised of writers who fully appreciate how gifted a mind he possesses. We simply cannot wait to see how this skill set translates in the artist’s directorial debut adaptation of Death: The High Cost of Living. (David Mumpower/BOP)