If time is money, I wouldn't call this event free. If you wanted to see Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean at the Walker Art Center tonight, you had to show up early. When I arrived at 5:45, the line for free tickets wound 'round and 'round the main lobby. The whole experience seemed a little more like Valley Fair than an artist talk at the Walker. Nonetheless, an hour and fifteen minute later about 300 of those people waiting were sitting in the Walker cinema ready to listen to whatever Gaiman and McKean had to say.
Dave McKean first got up and showed a short reel of animation and then went into a slide slow of his work, from album covers to more personal illustrations. Next Neil Gaiman got up and talked about his friendship and creative relationship with McKean, and also read some poems he had written. They then sat down together and attempted to start a discussion together, but it became very clear that these guys know each other too well to have an informative conversation in front of strangers. They launch into a Q&A that lead to more interesting discussions.
Both of these guys are charming, interesting and in the end make the world a more interesting place with their creativity. I'm more of a Dave McKean fan and really think his drawings are nothing short of fascinating. I could sit down any day with his massive book Cages and lose myself in his world. McKean's feature MirrorMask seemed to me a little restrained from his natural surrealist tendencies but is nonetheless visually amazing.
It seemed pretty obvious that McKean is a film fan. Upon showing a slide of his cover design for Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou, he declared it on of his favorite films. In addition, he also made multiple references to Jan Svankmajer who is obviously something of a kindred spirit. He recalled running into Svankmajer walking his dog in Prague: Gaiman and McKean joked that one would suspect Svankmajer's dog to have nails protruding from it or something. In response to a question regarding violent images and mature content in their work, McKean admitted there was a limit without fully condoning censorship. His example was Gasper Noé's Irreversible: a film he regarded as incredibly well-made, but he wishes he had never seen (and also implied maybe it shouldn't have been made).
I casually wondered if McKean knew of Run Wrake's work (showcased on the Fall issue of Res, and one of his shorts will be screened at an upcoming Walker event). Wrake has a similar sense of the surreal and absurd.