McKean is probably most widely known for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman, which include four graphic novels, two picture books, and the Black Orchid miniseries. He did every cover for the entire run of Gaiman's The Sandman (1989). Other non-Gaiman-related comic book work includes the miniseries Cages, which he wrote himself, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth with Grant Morrison, and the illustrations for Varjak Paw.
He is also a filmmaker, who has made several short films as well as the feature film MirrorMask, another collaboration with Neil Gaiman.
Tropes associated with Dave McKean:
- Animal Motifs: Likewise common throughout McKean's work, including his work illustrating a cook book by Heston Blumenthal.
- Art Shift: His graphic novel Cages does this frequently, shifting between full painted pages, black and white ink pages and full prose among others.
- Art-Style Clash: A common feature of his work. His Sandman covers are mixed media, often painting and collage on actual sculptures that he would then photograph!
- Body Horror: A favourite trope of his. Heads missing their top half, flowers that are also screaming faces, people who are part tree...
- Deranged Animation: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth revels in the comic book equivalent of this trope.
- Eyeless Face: McKean often invokes this trope, depicting faces with either empty eye sockets or...well...things where eyes would normally be.
- Fan Disservice: There are a fair amount of naked or topless people in his work, but they do not look like they're having a lovely time.
- Mind Screw: Applies to at least ninety-nine percent of his published works. It really says something when his infamously surreal Sandman covers are among the sanest of his portfolio.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: His love of mythology mean that these make frequent appearance, especially in MirrorMask and The Sandman (1989).
- Tarot Motifs: Shows up in Arkham Asylum and his Sandman work, as well as others.
- World of Symbolism: His bread and butter, it would be easier to name works that are not this.