Dave McKean illustrates the new edition of the fantasy masterpiece “American Gods”

Mondadori also publishes in Italy the collector’s volume of the most famous novel by Neil Gaiman

 

It was the late 1980s, when the then 26-year-old Neil Gaiman (not a famous writer at the time, but a simple journalist) accidentally met a 23-year-old art student named Dave McKean.

The two, almost as a joke, threw the idea of ​​creating a new, brilliant comic series: and, unexpectedly, they succeeded, giving birth to one of the greatest epics of all time, “Sandman”.

Since then, the couple has never stopped collaborating, realizing works such as “Violent Cases”, “Mr. Punch”, “Black Orchid”, “Signal to Noise” and the fantasy film “MirrorMask”.

 

Restless look

Today, the Maidenhead artist has returned to lend his talents to the work of the novelist, illustrating a new edition of the unforgettable and award-winning fantasy book “American Gods”.

A luxurious volume, published in 2017 in England by the Folio Society publishing house and which in these days has also arrived in Italy thanks to Mondadori, who has included it in the “Oscar Draghi” series.

The text, in the translation of Katia Bagnoli, is enriched by twelve surreal and wonderful illustrations, three of which are double-page, signed by McKean.

“They were born as acrylic paintings on backgrounds made with papercutting or with photographic textures”, explains the illustrator in the introduction created for the occasion.

This technique allowed him to give life to a series of golden nightmares, constantly straddling “between the real and the unreal”: a complicated dualism which is one of the stylistic figures of his work.

“The images had to create an atmosphere – he continues – a place out of the ordinary, where the perspective does not exist and the elements and the characters become simple flattened shapes or concepts”.

Just the distorted and contradictory air that fits perfectly to portray the mythological world conceived by Gaiman: a journey through the streets of a complex and multifaceted America, which is preparing for the clash between ancient gods such as time and the new gods of modernity.

 

Also on tv

The work done by McKean, in this case, has not however suffered from the long working relationship with the author, but rather focused on translating and adapting his imaginative prose.

“The only thing that matters is the specific text, and the search for the right tone of voice to illustrate it – he explained to the American site The Verge – I do not like simply replicate those scenes of the book that are already fully described by the text.

I want my images to contribute to the overall experience of the book, deepening and completing the story.

I felt that the otherworldly passages of this book were naturally inclined to illustration, so the images themselves became a gateway to this new world.

I’ve let go of all the realistic scenes, focusing on the most distorted and fantastic areas of history. ”

The result is a work that must be seen to believe: a well-deserved tribute to the masterpiece of contemporary gothic fantasy that in recent months is experiencing a new youth, thanks to its adaptation to comics and the homonymous television series, produced the year passed by Starz and distributed by Amazon Prime Video