Monday, July 13, 2015

Review:: Signal to Noise, by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Title: Signal to Noise
Author: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Dave McKean
 Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I'm not entirely sure what turned me off of Signal to Noise. Maybe it was the fact that it was a couple of artists waxing on about how important art is to artists. (Yes, I know how factual this drive is personally, but it's such a tired subject for art.) Or maybe it was the fact that the art style really didn't add anything to the story for me. If anything, it pushed me away. I don't know. It felt pretentious.

Signal to Noise is the story of a man dying from cancer. Instead of deciding to treat his cancer, he throws himself all in to working on a movie script about people anticipating the apocalypse in 999. It's all so symbolic that I felt tired reading it.

The art also goes from fuzzy to hyper-realistic, to interspersed with photographs, depending on what best fits the plot. Unfortunately, most of the art just didn't do it for me. It felt... off in some way I find difficult to describe. (Hey look! Just like in A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel I can't figure out why I didn't like the art. Art critique is hard. Writing critique, not so much.)

I think what turned me off the most was the level of pretension. If I can feel that you're trying to create a lofty piece of work, then you've failed at creating a lofty piece of work, in my opinion. Something that really makes a statement doesn't need to try. It doesn't aspire. It simply is something that ended up giving the art-consumer a deep, vivid, and profound reaction when consuming it.

That didn't happen here.

That's not to say that I don't think everyone will find it as underwhelming as I did. You might want to try it out if you find the premise intriguing. And hey, it's short enough that if you are underwhelmed as well, you won't be as frustrated as having been underwhelmed by a 500 page novel.


  1. Pretension is definitely a good way to describe this one, I think it struck me the same way.

    1. There's a level of pretension I can handle... well, no. I guess there's a level of "artsy" I can handle. This was not "artsy."