Cages by Dave McKean

by Dave McKean
Dark Horse, 2010

McKean’s work will be familiar to anyone who has read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books – he provided the striking cover art for the individual issues and collected editions, providing continuity to a series which had over a dozen artists. So what’s he like when he gets to write his own stuff?

Cages was originally printed between 1990 and 1996 by Tundra and Kitchen Sink Press, and was previously available in an expensive hardback edition which Time Magazine thoroughly patronised in 2002. It’s now a large and somewhat floppy 496 page paperback. It mostly keeps to a strict nine-panel grid, but showcases McKean’s love of eclecticism: there’s fumetti, collage, traced photos, painting, duotones and good old-fashioned ink drawings. It’s like Asterios Polyps, but less self-consciously designed as a sequential art narrative technique textbook.

It seems to be mostly about different types of artists and the creative problems they face – I waded in excitedly and got about halfway through before I realised there wasn’t a plot as such, except for a blocked painter interacting with the eccentric inhabitants of an apartment block. There’s a sweet romance and the curious story of a man disguised as a cat, and many, many narrative digressions. McKean loves art and he loves telling stories, and if you have the patience, these are both very good things.


One Response to “Cages by Dave McKean”

  1. A fantastic book, mckean’s a genius 🙂

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