Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, and Memory – Part II

So my previous post dealt with Violent Cases, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. You… read that one right? Because, in addition to a discussion of the work itself, it provided background information on the pairing. And that was probably interesting. Maybe.

Anyhow, this post concerns Signal to Noise, the second book in what is sometimes referred to as The Memory Trilogy.

Signal to Noise
written by Neil Gaiman
illustrated and designed by Dave McKean
my copy of the book comes from Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007

So, Signal to Noise.  The book was first published in The Face, a British style magazine, in serial format and then collected in trade paperback in 1992 in both England (by Victor Gollancz Ltd) and America (by local favorite comic publisher Dark Horse Comics!).

Signal to Noise tells the story of yet another unnamed narrator, this time a film director suffering from a terminal illness.  The majority of the story is told within the director’s mind, as he mentally directs his final film, even though he knows it will never be made.

I’m not going to get as in depth into this book as I did Violent Cases, mainly because you have to read this to get the full effect.  The story is a bit more complex, as is the art, but the brilliance remains.

Despite the plot, the content isn’t as entirely depressing as one would think.  Gaiman and McKean treat the subject of a dying man with grace and sensitivity.  As the director accepts his fate and resigns himself to death, he continues composing his final film, while taking breaks and channel surfing to keep his mind off the impending darkness.

Here’s where I tell you that the story is great, don’t get me wrong, but Dave McKean’s illustrations really are top notch.  At this point, the director is quoting The Book of Revelation (NOT REVELATIONS!  PLEASE GET THIS RIGHT!) and McKean’s accompanying pictures of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are absolutely terrifying, especially Death.

McKean's "Death" From Signal To Noise

Let me finish this up by saying… READ IT!  No superheroes, no supervillains, no plots to take over the world, no SHARK REPELLENT BAT SPRAY!, none of that.  Wonderful storytelling, beautiful art, and one of the finest representations of the genre.

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