Signal to Noise
by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Cover Artist: Dave McKean
Review by Gayle Surrette
Dark Horse Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781593077525
Date: 18 December 2007 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Signal to Noise contains three short visual essays as well as the title story.
"Wipe Out!" (1989) was originally published in The Face and is sort of a ransom note/manifesto that overlays some very interesting art.
"Deconstruction" (1990) is also an editorial piece. It's much darker than "Wipe Out!" in tone and art where a poem falls apart over darkly stark images that are rather subliminally frightening.
"Vier Mauers" (text by Neil Gaiman and art by Dave McKean) was part of a series of stories by various artists and writers to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's not quite a story, but a linked series of thoughts about borders and walls and their purpose and psychological impact on people and governments. Leaves a reader with many unanswered questions to think about.
In "Signal to Noise", a film writer/director learns that he has cancer just as he was beginning a new project. He tells his producer that the project is off and then retreats to his home, refusing his doctor's requests to run tests or begin treatment. Meanwhile, he's actually writing the script of his new film in his head as his health deteriorates. The art at first is clear as to what is here and now and what is in the film he's working on. As the story progresses the distinction between the two worlds blur until it is difficult to tell where one begins and one ends.
There's a lot more going on because the reader needs to be an active participant in the story to tease out the various texts, and determine what is really part of the story and what is just noise in the background. This was very cleverly done and can be read multiple times because the mood of the reader will change the perception of the story. The artwork is such that there's enough soft edges and blur in some cases to allow the viewer to add detail based on what they're interpreting from the background.
It's a volume well worth adding to any graphic novel collection for the powerful story as well as the amazing artwork.