Posts tagged: illustration
Every fall I write for the official Midnight Madness and Vanguard program blogs of the Toronto International Film Festival. And I usually try to find a guest writer to cover me here at the Gutter, write a piece ahead of time or even, sometimes, just totally wander out of my assigned comics domain to write about the movies I’ve seen and what I think about them. This year, I was lucky enough to get to stay here in my domain, continue my little sorta series on comics and film and, most of all, lucky enough to interview Dave McKean.
Dave McKean works in many mediums–comics (most famously his covers for The Sandman); illustration; painting; collage, music, photography and film. Aside from his previous feature film, MirrorMask (2005), McKean has directed two shorts, N[eon] (2002) and The Week Before (1998). He directed the film adaptation of the National Theatre Wales’ The Gospel Of Us (2012). He’s done design for Harry Potter And The Wizard Of Azkaban (2004) and the titles for Neverwhere (1996). And his collaborations with Neil Gaiman include the above mentioned comics, MirrorMask, Neverhwhere and the children’s books, The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish (1998); Coraline (2002); The Wolves In The Walls (2003); The Graveyard Book (2008); and Crazy Hair (2009). I have a particular fondness for McKean’s paintings and mixed media works influenced by early cinema, which you can see here. Now he has a new feature film, Luna.
Carol Borden: Where some of your other films are quite stylized and, in the case of The Week Before, almost expressionist, Luna combines fantastic, expressionist and animated elements with more naturalistic ones. What are some of the challenges in blending the fantastic with the naturalistic?
Dave McKean: I think it’s easier to sustain a very stylized form of storytelling for a short film. I like stories that exist both in the naturalistic world and in our imaginative lives, films are so immersive in that sense, we can explore how our characters think and dream, as well as how they exist in the real world. I think it’s very easy to just go down the rabbit hole, or through the door to Narnia or Oz. I’m interested in the parallel narrative of our fantasy lives, or as Dean puts in it Luna, our imaginative lives. How the moment of ‘now’ that is palpably real, is surrounded by our memories, our dreams and hopes, the stories and connections that our brains make as we navigate the world–a universe of fantasy, or unreality, or surreality. I’m keen to explore this very human experience, how our minds create our own realities–a blend of fact and interpretation of fact.
CB: What do you think fantasy, surrealism and magical realism’s strengths are in reflecting and understanding people’s lives?
DM: They function like a lens I think. They allow us to see our everyday joys, fears, dramas, tragedies, triumphs in terms or story, or even poetry. Our brains tend to join the dots, make connections. We create dramatic arcs by seeing the relationship between things, but this is our brains creating stories. So these associative images magnify and intensify our experience of the world. They create meaning.
CB: As someone who’s worked with illustration, painting, collage and photography, what are some of the differences for you in working with a moving medium rather than a static one?
DM: In some ways they are very similar. I’m always thinking about story, and the development of ideas or images, so with all of these media, I’m simply trying to communicate the feelings and ideas in the story or characters in the most appropriate and effective way. Film gives me live actors, editing, music, sound, a huge and powerful toolbox to play with. If there is a problem for me, it is that film gives me too much. There is less room for the audience to add their side of the conversation. The reason I love comics is that they DON’T move, and there is NO sound. As a creator I have to evoke those elements in the drawings and writing, and the reader has to create those elements in their own minds. Reading a good comic is a creative act. Watching a film is often a more passive experience, and since I’m interested in engaging that conversational aspect of creativity, I’m trying to find ways of achieving that in my films.
CB: Does your illustration, collage and painting inform your filmmaking, and, if so, could you share how it does?
DM: They all talk to each other. Sometimes the things I learn making paintings or drawings–composition, colour, expressionism, texture–can directly influence the making of a film. Sometimes it’s great that they are different, and simply taking a break from one medium to spend time with another, recharges the batteries and I feel refreshed.
CB: Who are some of your favorite filmmakers and how have they influenced you?
DM: So many–there are so many extraordinarily creative and brilliant technicians and actors working in the field. The filmmakers I really love are the ones that let me look through their eyes for a while. they have an aesthetic and social point of view. And there have been so many of these. I love the silent era because you can see the rules being written, the grammar of film being created. Murnau, Dreyer and Sjöström I love, as well as many of the Ufa films created in the 20’s. Most of my films (all of them?) are in some way love letters to the silent era. I love directors and animators who take complete control of their film world; Svankmajer, Trnka, the Quays, Maddin, Lynch, Fellini. I love the great masters of time and landscape–Tarkovsky, Angelopoulos, Sokurov, Lopushansky. I remain a huge Woody Allen fan, despite the rough years. I love the group of truly modern filmmakers who have really got to grips with the digital realm; Jonze, Gondry, Glazer, Taymor. And I love Lars von Trier–he is, and I never use this word, a genius. I could go on for hours. Oh, and Bob Fosse–my favourite film is All That Jazz. Oh, and Michael Powell.
Okay, that will do.
This interview appeared in a slightly different form on the Toronto International Film Festival’s Vanguard Program Blog. Carol Borden was also fortunate enough to talk to Peter Strickland, director of Katalin Varga, Berberian Sound Studio and his newest film, The Duke of Burgundy. You can read that interview here and see some of her initial thoughts about The Duke of Burgundy here.Interview with Dave McKean Every fall I write for the official Midnight Madness and Vanguard program blogs of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Comic Artist Stan Goldberg has died. Best known for his work on Archie Comics, Goldberg also worked for Marvel and DC. He drew romance comics including Patsy Walker and Millie the Model. He worked on Archie Meets The Punisher. And recently he drew Nancy Drew and the Clue Drew. Comic Book Resources, The Comics Beat and Newsday have obituaries. Here’s a 2012 interview with Goldberg. Here are pages…
Cleopatra’s Weave draws some amazing Elves of color (and David J. Prokopetz shares a story trying to get more racial representation in a fantasy illustration project).
i drew a bunch of elves of color!!
This post reminds me of something that happened a few years back.
I once served as art director for a project where the illustration spec called for characters of a variety of races (in the real-world sense, not the Dungeons & Dragons sense - though the latter was involved as well).
We had one particular artist, tasked with drawing a series of elves, who didn’t quite seem to get what that meant. Their output was basically “white elf”, “another white elf”, “white elf with a tan”, “white elf looking a bit pale”, “yet another white elf”, etc.
When this was pointed out, they were like “oh, yeah, now I get it - I’ll totally fix that with my next piece”.
They proceeded to turn in a picture of a blue elf.
In the end, we had to provide specific quotas for specific levels of racial representation in order to get the point across. It all worked out in the end, but it’s stuck with me ever since that this artist examined the original spec, looked at our feedback, and came to the conclusion a blue elf was more plausible than a black one.
In conclusion: this is awesome.
Read that last paragraph as many times as you need to.
A BBC documentary on the life and work of writer and artist Tove Jansson, best known for her Moomin books. (via Kate Laity)
Artist Jason Thompson creates illustrated walkthroughs of a Dungeons & Dragons game modules. And for more retro gaming fun, Retroist has a 1993 video TSR produced as a tutorial for the boardgame, Dragon Strike, and here is a trailer for TSR’s Wild Space. (via SharpCrye and Gravediggers Local)
Former graphic designer for Intralink Film Graphic Design and current Google graphic designer Alex Griendling talks about designing film posters and campaigns at The Art House.
Graphic designer Anthony Goldschmidt has died. Goldschmidt’s company Intralink Film Graphic Design was the first to offer poster design as well as titles and trailers. Intralink created posters for countless films and Goldschmidt himself designed the titles for films including Young Frankenstein (1974), Blazing Saddles (1974) and Stargate (1994). The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap and The Fashion…