Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Dave demands his characters agonize over the meaning of life but he forces us to take the roller-coaster ride as well... right to the heart of the creative process--his words and drawings cascading across the page in perfectly structured cacophony. Beautiful!"--Terry Gilliam
So what mixed-media madness do you get for your moolah then? I shall let the publisher proudly proclaim all. And I do mean all...
"Dark Horse proudly presents Dave McKean's short cinema on Blu-Ray included in a behind the scenes 9 1/2' x 11' hardcover book featuring photos, posters, stills, drawings, and more. A must-have for McKean fans!"
Yes, from the creator of CAGES, BLACK DOG etc, and contributor to 2018's TRACES OF THE GREAT WAR anthology, here is the Blu-Ray breakdown:
"Week Before - 23 minutes - Inspired by the music of Django Reinhardt, a story about two neighbours, God and The Devil.
Neon - 27 minutes - This film is narrated by Velvet Underground founder John Cale and was first prize winner at Clermont-Ferrand (one of most prestigious short film festivals in the world).
Whack! - 14 minutes - Based on Mr. Punch graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.
Displacements - 14 minutes - A combination of three short films featuring Michael Moorcock, Iain Sinclair, and Ed Dorn.
Dawn - 9 minutes - Filmed after McKeans's work on the movie Mirrormask, this short is based on the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel Pictures that Tick.
Iain Ballamy & Stian Carstensen - 3 1/2 minutes - A video short of jazz musicians Iain Ballamy & Stian Carstensen.
Sonnet No. 138 - 1 minute - An animated version of one of Shakespeare's sonnets as part of a large project to turn all of them into short films, the project was subsequently cancelled and all that remains is this short film.
MTV-9/11 Reason - 1 minute - Reason was created to play on Sept. 11th 2002, a year after the terrorist attack in New York in 2001. McKean made this image as an illustration for a memorial book published by Dark Horse, and turned it into a film shortly after.
MTV-World Aids Day - 1 minute - McKean's short film for MTV on World Aids Day.
Visitors - 15 minutes - Created to be a video shown during live performances for the band Food, this film was shot at the Pacific coastline at Pebble Beach, Point Lobos, Big Sur, Pacific Grove, and at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.
A short film for Adobe - 4 minutes - Short film of the making of an image, which was the cover of The Particle Tarot.
Signal to Noise - 4 minutes - Based of his own Graphic Novel Signal to Noise.
RAINDANCE 7 - 1 minute - Trailer/Advert for the Raindance Film Festival.
KODAK: TAKE PICTURES FURTHER - 40 minutes - Commissioned by Kodak to launch a new film stock, and consisted of a lavish book, featuring several photographer/ artists, and accompanying 'making of' films for each contributor.
BUCKETHEAD -THE BALLAD OF BUCKETHEAD - 4.5 minutes - Dave's ode to the musician Buckethead
Izzy - 3.5 minutes - Film dedicated to opera singer Izzy, featured on MTV's Classical Channel.
Lowcraft - 1 minute - A music video made for the band Lowcraft, inspired by the artist Lorenzo Mattotti.
The Old Monkey - 4 minutes - A performance by McKean of a song he wrote for jazz composer Iain Ballamy and poet Matthew Sweeney.
9 Lives: Sheepdip, Johnson and Dupree; 9 Lives: The Cathedral of Trees - 4 minutes - Two short films from a show by McKean called Nine Lives."
So now you know you're getting a pretty sizeable bang for your proverbial buck. Which is all well and good, but what do the films actually look like? At this point, we would normally show you a bit of interior art, but that's clearly not going to cut it on its own... So I think the best thing to do is link to Dave's own trailer for this book, which is a glorious dada-esque coruscating spin through most of the shorts on the Blu-Ray. You will be utterly mesmerised I promise.
I can now see precisely why Terry Gilliam is a fan. As is actor Michael Sheen, who provides an insightful foreword that posits that Dave's short films are the answer to "How do you fit an elephant into an egg-cup?"
In terms of the paper-based content, each film is introduced in the first person by Dave, explaining its conception and gestation, accompanied by stills and some trademark McKean constructions of imagery. There is also an occasional in-depth article about a particular piece from relevant others.
As a companion to the films themselves, this material all serves to provide a deep insight into Dave's thought processes and working methods. It certainly gave me pause for thought on a few occasions. The notes accompanying the Whack! film, which originally was intended to add to the classic McKean and Gaiman collaboration THE COMICAL TRAGEDY OR TRAGICAL COMEDY OF MR. PUNCH were utterly fascinating and also disturbing in equal measure!
Certainly one for anyone interested in the art of short film making, but also for anyone interested in learning more about one of this country's most imaginative and inventive artists and this particular celluloid-flavoured slice of his many, many talents.