Artist Features

An Artist a Week: Dave McKean

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Week 36: Dave McKean
“Garden of Giants” (Mirrormask, 2005)

Find him on his website and Twitter.

Dave McKean is an artist most commonly known for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman on such things as Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Sandman, Coraline, and the movie Mirrormask, which he directed. His style is almost always awash in dark hues and often features elements of mixed media collage. He does photography, digital art, paintings, charcoals, sculpture, and essentially anything you could name.

He’s pretty amazing.

I specifically chose McKean for this spotlight because of his profound creation Mirrormask, which is a gorgeous, rich, emotional coming-of-age story that is as haunting as it is inspirational. I won’t spoil anything about it, of course, but there is an incredible depth and this is due in a huge way to McKean’s art direction.

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Prior to Mirrormask, however, I discovered McKean through Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, which remains due to McKean’s nightmarish, psychedelic, psychological maze of art one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. It was, in fact, the story that first made me realize superhero comics could have depth, and that would not have happened without the art (which flows through various styles for each different villain in Arkham).

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Arkham reminded me of the most fucked-up, dark Alice in Wonderland story and there was something my blossoming teenage self was endlessly fascinated with. This fascination has not changed.

McKean’s sense of composition is incredible, as is evident in the panels above (claustrophobically falling off pages, for instance) and his covers (for Sandman especially).

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Honestly, despite my optimistic outlook, it will always be fascinating to me to look at the surreal, slightly-demented hodgepodges of people like Dave McKean.

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