My completism has limits, re: Dave McKean

Posted on 25.02.2011


It used to be Sailor Moon and Garbage. Then it was Esthero. It’s still technically Esthero, and Shirley is still in there, too, she’s just not AS loud as she used to be. Between all of them, it’s been Dave McKean.

I was introduced to the work of McKean (and Gaiman as well) in college, in my first Digital art class. At the time, Dave was making a quite seamless shift from sculptural, photographic work to digital work.

I can say without a doubt that NO other artist has been as influential to me and my own work as Dave. In his work I see what I like to do, what I want to do, etc. I love to look at his images and figure out where each piece came from. Is it digitally manipulated, or is that a darkroom technique? He’s capable of all of it.

Until a few days ago, I was relatively certain that I would buy anything that Dave had worked on, no matter how small his part. I love his work enough to buy the book just for the cover art (this was the case with Coraline, but that was different since I like the way Gaiman writes. That was an added bonus:) and to buy certain books (the Particle Tarot, Major Arcana) again when they have been lost. It’s so serious that my friends win major points for gifting me hard-to-find McKean items, like original gallery prints (the Queen) and the out-of-print Vertigo Tarot (still in the box, and here with me in Germany).

But when I was in a comic book store this week, perusing the shelves, I came across a set of three graphic novels that I’d never heard of before, that had Dave’s name on the cover. I flipped through and realized that all he was responsible for was the cover art. And they appeared to be stories about vampires. I put the one I was holding down and walked away, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that was the first time I’ve ever put something down that was just the cover art without having that internal argument with myself ‘but it’s Dave Mckean’. ‘But it’s just the cover’. ‘BUT IT’S DAVE McKEAN!!!’. Yes, that’s how they go. No reason. Just Dave.

So I wonder now if the spell has been broken, or if it was just the subject matter. I’ll be more interested in vampires once all of this Twilight shit dies down. Until then, I will not take part in anything even remotely related. They’ll be there later, and Dave will always be an amazing artist. There are other items to acquire and love.

My completism ends, apparently, at vampires.

Posted in: art, books