In front of a packed crowd during his panel titled "My Two Years with Dawkins, Christ and a Small Crab Called Eric" at Comic-Con International in San Diego, artist, writer and indie filmmaker Dave McKean recounted two recent life events on radically opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum: an all-ages book he illustrated with scientist and Atheism proponent Richard Dawkins called "The Magic of Reality," and a film he shot starring Michael Sheen in Port Talbot, Wales called "The Gospel of Us," a modern day interpretation of "The Passion" story chronicling Jesus Christ's final days of life on Earth.
McKean is a man who is all about the experience. "I'm not cut out for this [business], I don't have skin thick enough," McKean said in his British accent. "I make hopelessly uncommercial decisions, I'm terrible at that. But my thought is -- if there's something personal for me to get out of the experience, I can do it.
"Usually my projects are outside the realm of this fine establishment [he gestured about the room]. They're much more about reality -- the real world. It's a strange thing to talk about here [at Comic-Con], but I thought I'd give it a go."
McKean's abstract art and photography are unlike any other as his work truly pulls the viewer into his world. He's best known amongst comic book fans for his cover art, specifically for "Sandman," Neil Gaiman's timeless story of the Endless entity named Dream.
"Neil was a struggling journo and I was in art school, so we thought why not tackle things together," McKean said of his early exchanges with Gaiman. "The Graveyard Book," about a boy who's raised and educated by ghosts in a graveyard, is McKean's personal favorite of Gaiman's work.
After the brief introduction, McKean spent time on his working relationship with Richard Dawkins and what it was like putting together "The Magic of Reality," currently available from Free Press in over 20 countries worldwide, with the scientist and Atheism advocator.
"I'm a big fan of Dawkins. He's a great controversial guy, but also a great scientist. I'm not a scientist but I'm a big science fan," McKean said. "Dawkins would often say he wanted to do a kids book to encourage them to think, and think skeptically about the world around them. I thought this was great -- my children would have the tools around them to ask questions."