McKean Feature – Design Week

The following uncredited article appeared in the 25th September edition of Design Week:

Although Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman have been working together for 20 years, The Wolves In The Walls (published by Bloomsbury, priced 12.99) is only their second picture book together.

The first was the more light-hearted The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish. The Wolves In The Walls is darker and scarier, dealing with a girl’s nightmarish fantasy about a pack of wolves preparing to burst through the walls of her house at night.

McKean, the artist/designer of the partnership, says they didn’t intend it as a children’s book originally, and you can easily imagine it as a dream sequence in an adult movie.

In keeping with the tone of the story, McKean uses murky colours, browns, reds, ochres, and a variety of forms – painting, photography, collage, pen and ink – in his highly imaginative pictures. ‘Gaiman and I often improvise our ideas. If we disagree on the words he has the last say, if we disagree on the picture I have the last say.’

A former student of the then Berkshire College of Art, McKean started working with Gaiman in the early 1980s when they were lucky enough to collaborate on a series of graphic novels for DC Comics in New York. He has since worked in many areas of graphic design, including album covers and posters.

They are currently working on their first feature film for Columbia Pictures, Mirrormask, starring Rob Bryden and Gina McKee. He describes it as a fantasy about the pictures on a child’s bedroom wall coming to life. For the most part it’s a combination of CGI and live action.