Bigger image

More to explore...

  • Joe-Quinn-s-Poltergeist
  • Mouse-Bird-Snake-Wolf

Dave McKean

As a child

I loved drawing, playing the piano and science fiction films. My father also played piano and would draw cartoon characters for me. He was never encouraged to pursue these talents, and, although professionally successful, always felt frustrated in his life. He died when I was 12. I've always been determined to make the most of his genes, and try as many creative things as possible. My mother completely supported everything I tried to do. I made Super8 films with friends, published my own very bad comics and played in school and semi-professional bands throughout my school years.

As an adult

I live in Kent with my wife Clare, and two children Yolanda and Liam. While still at art school I started working professionally as an illustrator. I met Neil there in my final year, and we've continued to work together ever since our first book, Violent Cases. I started designing my own projects through damage limitation - I had some terrible art directors scribble all over my first few book jackets. I've always loved music and wanted to design CD covers and a couple of comic-book fans at record labels gave me my first professional work in this area. I've now done over 100 CD packages. In 1996 I decided I wanted to make a film and wrote two shorts, the Week Before and N[eon]. I shot them in my barn with no budget and a tiny crew, and slowly completed them while learning how to edit and make special effects. I'm still very happy with them.

As an artist

I've realised a few things over the last 20 years: That I'm a slow learner, preferring to make my own mistakes rather than take professional advice. That I'm stubborn. That I love comics, and hope to make another couple of comic novels before I'm 50. That I don't have skin thick enough to survive in the film industry. If I can make films my own way, I'll continue to try. That I love to learn new things, and that I'm easily bored. That I'm very lucky to have lived through the quantum jump from analog to digital technology, I appreciate the strengths of both. That spending all your time doing things you love, is a great life to aim for.

Things you didn't know about Dave McKean

  1. I fell in love with comics when I was off school with the flu, and my mother bought me copies of The Mighty World of Marvel, numbers 3 and 4.
  2. My father worked in shipping. He used to look after the equipment for the then unknown Elton John (or John Elton as he called him). Nearly 40 years later I worked on Elton's musical Lestat.
  3. When I was 9, I drew a map of Ethiopia at school, and then presented it in person to the Emperor Haile Selassie during a visit to a local Agricultural Centre.
  4. I met my wife for the first time when I was 12.
  5. My first professionally published illustration was a dove for a cd cover for Isao Tomita.
  6. I recorded the music for the BBCRadio production of Signal to Noise at Real World in Box, near Bath. Peter Gabriel had just written a song that week called Signal to Noise, and came to see what we were doing.
  7. I have a storm-cloud coloured cat called Stormy. She was born on a stormy night.
  8. I play badminton twice a week, poorly, but with great competitive spirit, and employing any psychological advantage I can think of; distracting shirts, aggressive posture, unnecessary noises etc.
  9. In my film MirrorMask, I played the small porcupine in trousers and braces, the announcer on hospital radio introducing Close To You and Spiny Norman, who is a snail-like object on the Prime Minister's lectern.
  10. The first piece of artwork that film director Guillermo del Toro bought was a page from my Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum.

Website links:

Dave McKean

Bear Logo