Speaking on the inspiration for Death in his Sandman comic, Neil Gaiman once said, “In my original Sandman outline, I suggested Death look like rock star Nico in 1968, with the perfect cheekbones and perfect face she has on the cover of her Chelsea Girl album.”
Later on however, Mike Dringenberg presented his own ideas.
“He sent me a drawing based on a woman he knew named Cinamon Hadley — the drawing that was later printed in Sandman #11 — and I looked at it and had the immediate reaction of, ‘Wow. That’s really cool,’” Gaiman said.
Sadly, the goth icon and fashion designer who inspired the classic look of Death passed away on January 6, 2018. Hadley was diagnosed with the advanced stages of small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the colon in 2017. Following a brief remission, the cancer returned and spread. She was 48 years old.
Since the announcement of her passing, both friends and fans of Hadley have been celebrating her life and mourning her passing. Interestingly, for some time, Hadley was completely unaware of her impact on the Sandman comic.
In an interview with Post-Punk, Hadley explained that “three years after Mike asked me if he could use my likeness, I was living in Houston, having moved from Salt Lake City, and I was at a friend’s house. My friend told me his favorite comic was the Sandman and showed me an issue. When I opened it I saw a picture of myself staring back at me. I said ‘oh my God, that’s me.’ I had no idea I was in the Sandman, and I had even forgotten about being asked by Mike to use me as the model.”
Hadley may have forgotten, but certainly neither Gaiman nor Dringenberg ever will.
“Rest in Peace, or head off to your next adventure, Cinamon Hadley. You gave Death of the Endless her face and her smile,” tweeted Gaiman.