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David McKean (born 29 December 1963 in Maidenheadmarker, Berkshire) is an Englishmarker illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and musician.

His work incorporates drawing, painting, photography, collage, found objects, digital art and sculpture.


After a trip to New Yorkmarker in 1986 during which he failed to find work as a comics artist, McKean met writer Neil Gaiman and the pair collaborated on a short graphic novel of disturbing childhood memories, Violent Cases, published in 1987. This was followed in 1988 by a Black Orchid miniseries (again with Gaiman) and Hellblazer covers for DC Comics. Beginning in 1989 he produced the covers for Gaiman's celebrated series The Sandman, all its collected editions and many of its spin-offs, and the Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, with writer Grant Morrison (1989). His work during this period was often compared to that of Bill Sienkiewicz.

Graphic novels

Between 1990 and 1996 McKean wrote and drew the ten issues of Cages, an ambitious graphic novel about artists and creativity, illustrated in a stripped-down pen and ink style influenced by Alberto Breccia, José Antonio Muñoz and Lorenzo Mattotti. Cages was published as single volume by Kitchen Sink Press in 1998, and in a new edition by NBM Publishing in 2002.
Cages (1998) by Dave McKean

Further collaborations with Gaiman produced the graphic novels Signal to Noise in 1992 (previously serialised in The Face magazine), about a dying filmmaker and his hypothetical last film, and Mr. Punch, which explored similar themes as Violent Cases through the imagery of the Punch and Judy show.


McKean has also created a few books documenting his travels using only illustrations. Examples include "Postcards from Vienna", "Postcards from Barcelona" and soon to come "Postcards from Paris" (2008). He also wrote another book of 200 pages called "Squink" (éditions BdArtist(e)) that gathered a number of drawings in 15 chapters.

Compact Disc covers

McKean has produced CD covers for

and many others.

Book covers

Illustrations for The New Yorker, and advertising and commercial art.

Books of photography

He has published four books of photography,

  • A Small Book of Black and White Lies (1995) and
  • Option: Click (1998),
  • The Particle Tarot: The Major Arcana
  • The Particle Tarot: The Minor Arcana

Short comics

Pictures that Tick (2001).

In 2005, he designed the poster for the 32nd Telluride Film Festival.

Children's picture books

More recently McKean has collaborated with Neil Gaiman on two children's picture books, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (1998) and The Wolves in the Walls (2003), and illustrated Gaiman's children's novel Coraline (2002), as well as S F Said's Varjak Paw (2003). The Wolves in the Walls: a Musical Pandemonium premiered as a play in Glasgow in 2006 with Improbable and the National Theatre of Scotland. He also illustrated David Almond's "The Savage" published in April 2008.


McKean created six images recently for Royal Mail's 'Mythical Creatures' collection, which featured depictions of mythical creatures found in British Folklore, including Dragons, Unicorns, Giants, Pixies, Mermaids and Fairies. The collection was released in the UK on 16 June 2009. The Presentation Pack contains short descriptions of each subject by author Neil Gaiman, someone whom has worked with McKean many times in the past.

Film directing

MirrorMask, McKean's first feature film as director, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005. The screenplay was written by Neil Gaiman, from a story by Gaiman and McKean. A children's fantasy which combines live action and digital animation, Mirrormask was produced by Jim Henson Studios and stars Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, and Gina McKee. Before MirrorMask, McKean directed a number of television intros and music videos as well as several short films, such as The Week Before (1998) and N[eon] (2002), which are included in the compilation DVD of McKean's work Keanoshow from Allen Spiegel Fine Arts. McKean was also a conceptual artist on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005).

Jazz musician

McKean is also an accomplished jazz pianist, and founded the record label Feral Records with saxophonist Iain Ballamy. His most recent project is directing an adaptation to Varjak Paw, based on the S F Said-written book he originally illustrated.


McKean has won numerous awards and accolades. Over the years, he has been nominated 5 times for a World Fantasy Award in the category of "Artist", and in 1991 he won the award. His graphic novel Cages won the Alph-Art, Pantera, and Harvey Awards for best Graphic Novel. He has been nominated 6 times and won 3 Spectrum Awards in the categories of "Advertising", "Book", and "Comic". His collection of short comics, Pictures That Tick won the V&A Museum Illustrated Book Awards Overall First Prize. In 2004, McKean won a BSFA Award in "Short Fiction" along with Neil Gaiman for their work, The Wolves in the Walls. His film MirrorMask was nominated for the William Shatner Golden Groundhog Award for Best Underground Movie, the other nominated films were Green Street Hooligans, Nine Lives, Up for Grabs and Opie Gets Laid.


  1. "World Fantasy Award - Complete Listing" Retrieved September 15, 2009
  2. "Coraline by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean" About the Illustrator section. Harper Collins Childrens. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  3. "The Locus Index to SF Awards" Dave Mckean entry. Retrieved September 15, 2009

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