Sunday, 22 December 2013

Other Kinds Of Visual Creativity

I already know what Neil Gaiman wrote after The Sandman. Dust Covers (London, 1997) mentions some of Dave McKean's work other than illustrating Sandman covers:

other comics - collaborations with Gaiman, Arkham Asylum and Cages;
CD and personal projects influenced by the photographic experiments of the A Game Of You covers;
record covers;
launch images;
exhibitions;
recording music;
directing films.

Every artifact that we see, use and take for granted has had to be designed. Someone has had to think not only about what it does but also about how it looks. When we read a book, not only has someone written it but someone else has designed the cover. Even if it is merely a plain cover displaying nothing but the title and the author's name, someone has had to decide that it should be like that, what color it should be and what kind of font should be used.

Although most comic book covers directly display the kind of representational art to be found within, McKean continually sought new and different ways for his covers to express the contents of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic. The two-level A Game Of You covers, with a photo of New York above and a surrealistic picture below, "...obviously reflected the two worlds running parallel throughout the story." (p. 90) Because "The chapter titles of Brief Lives were tiny, dislocated phrases...," these were reflected in "...bitty..." covers (p. 112), also suggesting "...the detritus that might be picked up along the way, during this Sandman/Delirium road-story." (p. 110)

My primary interest was in reading the stories but, because the covers have taken on a life of their own, my attention has been drawn first to their striking imagery and secondly to the fact that the artist applies the same skills and techniques to CD and record covers for an audience primarily interested in hearing the music.

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