DAVE McKEAN
Interview by Night Watchman

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THERE IS NOT ENOUGH SPACE HERE TO LIST ALL OF THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF DAVE McKEAN. HE INVENTED HIS OWN VISUAL VOCABULARY THAT HAS REVOLUTIONIZED THE FIELD OF ILLUSTRATION. HIS GRAPHIC NOVEL WORK WITH WRITER NEIL GAIMAN IS THE STUFF OF LEGEND, PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF COMICS AND CHILDRENíS BOOKS. HIS OWN GRAPHIC NOVEL, CAGES, STANDS OUT AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE KIND OF SELF-EXPRESSION THAT IS POSSIBLE WITHIN THE MEDIUM, YET RARELY TAPPED INTO. AFTER DIRECTING A FEW SHORT FILMS, McKEAN HAS TURNED HIS ATTENTION TO THE BIG SCREEN WITH THE STUNNING MIRRORMASK. PRODUCED BY LISA HENSON, CO-WRITTEN WITH NEIL GAIMAN, AND DIRECTED AND VISUALIZED BY McKEAN HIMSELF, MIRRORMASK IS A LIVING, BREATHING EXTENSION OF HIS AMAZING VISION. NIGHT WATCHMAN GEEKED OUT WHEN HE FOUND OUT THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO TALK TO ONE OF HIS BIGGEST IDOLS.
 
Night Watchman: In both MirrorMask and in your illustrations, throughout the years everything has this kind of dream logic to it. Is this the way you see the world, or is it how you wish the world really was?
 
Dave McKean: Well, I guess it's a bit of both. It's kind of how I see things. I like stories and images that are about real people, but I tend to see them through sort of a fractured, dream-like, metaphorical perspective. Actually, I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I do kind of feel that there's a responsibility for the kind of work that you bring into the world-- it's like wishing it into the real world. And I know that's a simplified way of looking at it. I think if you dwell on creating violent, vicious, nihilistic work, in some tiny way you're contributing to it and bringing it into the real world.
 
NW: Perpetuating it?
 
DM: I think so. It's always defended as a reflection of the world. Personally, I think it's a spiral. It's as much an encouragement and keeping that spiral going as it is reflecting what is actually out there. So, personally, I like to try and create things that are about a world I would like to be in, full of characters and people who I would actually like to spend a lot of time with-- people I'm fascinated by. That's a real personal thing, but I've actually been thinking about that a lot recently.
 
NW: You've become well-known for your graphic novel work and your illustrations. Is filmmaking the direction you're focusing on now, and are the other areas being put off to the side?
 
DM: I'm still kind of doing everything. I still really love comics. I kind of love them too much to go back to doing mainstream, commercial comics. I love doing my own stories in my own time in my own way, and when I've got a book I'll publish it somehow with a book publisher or just by myself. My agent in California, we've done a couple books together and it's been perfectly fine. And the illustration and photography and everything else carries on. I'm still doing a lot of that, but I really loved this challenge of making a film. It does feel like I've just been at film school for a couple of years and this is my graduation movie, so I'm kind of keen to go out there in the real world and do it again. I kind of feel that I'm at the beginning again and that I'm never going to know everything about film. It's just too complicated and chaotic, and there are too many opportunities to screw up--
 
Both: (laugh)
 
DM: --and too many people you've got to deal with. It's a huge, unwieldy, difficult, chaotic mess, and that's wonderful. The balance of that is the work I do here just sitting alone in my studio drawing or making something and having complete control over it. It's lovely and I love doing that, but there's something about that sort of strange monster out there that I'd really like to try and tackle again.