Dave McKean: Short Films review – the legendary illustrator’s film work in a new collection


Whilst the word visionary can be thrown around rather loosely in the art community, there can be no doubt that Dave McKean is worthy of that moniker. He has a string of hit comic books attached to his name including various collaborations with Neil Gaiman, the iconic Batman graphic novel Arkham Asylum, the stunning covers for Gaiman’s Sandman series, his exploration of artists and creativity in Cages, and Black Dog –  his celebration of legendary surrealist painter Paul Nash. But he also has a strong filmography which has pushed just as many creative boundaries as his comic work.

On the film front, McKean is best known for the 2005 film MirrorMask (which was another Gaiman collaboration) and his 2012 modern reinterpretation of The Passion starring Michael Sheen – The Gospel of Us. But he has also made several short films which are collected together for the first time in Dave McKean: Short Films from Dark Horse. Featured in the collection are twenty-five of McKean’s short films on Blu-Ray and a hardcover accompaniment book featuring posters, production art, commentary from McKean himself and a foreword from Michael Sheen.

Anyone who has read any of McKean’s comic work will be familiar with his imagination went it comes to design and different artistic techniques. As you’d expect, this carries over into his film work. The sheer variety of material covered in the films gives him plenty of creative opportunities that he more than takes advantage of. His merging of live action with animation in his familiar art style give The Week Before the same haunting feel you often find in his comic work (not to mention the masks that further heighten this effect) whereas N[EON] brings to mind his cover work and his skill in photography and collage.

Beyond the skill on display, the diversity of material in this collection is truly impressive which includes a film adaptation of McKean and Gaiman’s classic Mr. Punch comic, a music video for the enigmatic guitarist Buckethead and a short film for MTV made for World Aids Day. McKean’s insight to each piece is invaluable as he discusses not only his techniques and production process, but also provides context to the material and some details of his life at the time of production.

Anyone who professes to be a Dave McKean fan needs to have this in their collection. Between the book and the Blu-ray, there is a wealth of skills on display that few can equal. A more than worthy showcase of one of the top creative talents working in art today!

Dave McKean: Short Films is published out now from Dark Horse

9781506706054 – H/B – £22.99

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