[GN] Signal to Noise – Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
February 4, 2010 § 12 Comments
Signal to Noise tells the story of a director after he learns that he is dying. He goes about his last days writing a story set in the year 999, at the verge of a new millenium. Much like the Y2K frenzy we had when that came about, this story that the director has in his mind is pretty much all doom and gloom, and the villagers are just waiting around for the end of the world.
But that’s not what the story is about. The story is about the director. And frankly, I have no words that can do this book any justice at all.
The book itself is a complete work of art. Dave McKean. Is. A. Genius. Like the title suggests, the noises around us are as important to the telling of this story, as the story itself. In fact, sometimes I wondered if the noises were even more important, signaling the change of scenes, from the director, to the director’s storyl; from past to present; from reality to fiction. But how, you may ask, does one draw noise?
And that is why I say Dave McKean is a genius. Because when I was reading the book, I was actually hearing those sounds. Like this:
I mean, just look at that page. You can just hear the voice of a woman echoing in the background, but not really listening to what she’s saying. You can hear her saying things, you can hear her walking up and down the carpeted staircase. You can hear all that, by just looking at that graphic.
And what about this?
In this one can’t you just hear the sounds of someone painstakingly shredding paper into pieces? Slowly but surely. And you can hear the pieces fluttering to the floor, and the man is walking past them, kicking some of the pieces along to the side.
And just look at this page.
Even the silence is overwhelming. You can hear it practically ringing in your ears. And the silent slosh of liquid into glass; the quiet paper sounds as the woman opens the envelope. You can hear each sound clearly, like as if you were sitting right there with her.
Each page was a work of art. Each page was a new love lost and found. Each page was something to be cherished.
There are only more or less 90 pages to this book, including the introductions, extra works and 10 2-page spread chapter seperators. But it took me an entire day to read this. I leave you a quote taken from the introduction:
Because at their best, experiencing these works is like a month spend in the high Alps. You return thinner, stronger. You’ve grown accustomed to silence and thus learned of an inner voice which has been talking, urgent but unheard, a long time.
Note: The layers upon layers of the art is just so perfectly done. You can look at a single panel on its own, and then you can zoom out and look at the whole page, and still you realise you’re looking at nothing less than art. I’m officially going on a Dave McKean hunt now.