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Signal to Noise Hardcover – 10 Dec 2013


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Neil Gaiman is a tour de force of creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust, both of which are major motion films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His latest title, The Graveyard Book, won the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2009. Neil has been immortalised in song by Tori Amos, and is a songwriter himself. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.

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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
What is the Signal to Noise? 17 Dec 2007
By Matthew Kirshenblatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a new released version of Signal to Noise graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean -- complete with new jacket art, the original introduction, and some new introductions and notes by both Gaiman and McKean.

Also included in this edition are three separate short stories that led to Signal to Noise's publishing and creation, while a few were made during its process. All three stories deal with the themes of language and communication in terms of barriers, and breaking those barriers down; exploring where the word begins and the individual ends, and, ultimately and especially 'ends.'

The placement of these stories -- from "Hackers" to "Deconstruction" and then "Vier Mauern" lead up to what will transpire, and what is contained within the main piece. This much is clear -- a film director finds out he is dying of cancer. He finds out not long before he is given permission to create his film -- a story about a European village that believes the Apocalypse is coming with the end of 999 AD.

These two events, the one that the director focuses on, and the one that he is experiencing are both "the end of a particular world." The text plays with the concepts of semantics, communication, and memory. The director spends his remaining days alone creating his film in his head, sifting through dreams and memories, and faces. Admittedly, you can get lost in the semantical pastiches that unfold and the experiments in language, yet the garbed trues and mixed up words symbolize the realm of the barely submerged subconscious and the barely awakened mind of the underworld.

Each chapter starts off with these interludes, these alchemical processes -- and somewhere, there is an answer to what the Signal to Noise is. Noise is seen as something superfluous, but something starts it -- something summons it. Semiotics and imagery also play a key role when looking at the mindset of the director -- in which the telephone, the ultimate symbol of the outside world in his flat becomes a monster -- an intrusive thing reminding him of the things that could distract him (a symbol that is very relatable to me), something that is only noise.

As the scenes progress, some of them dreamlike and filled with abstraction, an actual exegesis -- an examination of what an apocalypse is supposed to be, of its history in human culture is explored. The artwork for the four horsemen of the apocalypse is superb and vivid, while the Biblical sections identifying them are written down. Myths and legends are explored and possibilities and, ultimately the "revelation" (this word being the actual definition of "apocalypse") -- that the end of the world is not necessarily a communal event, but certainly an individual one. There are little ends of the world everyday.

And yet, like the Nordic Ragnarok, life continues on. The ending to this story is very quintessentially Neil Gaiman -- there are places where it could end, but it doesn't, which in this case works well. I am still not entirely sure what the Signal to Noise is -- words perhaps or art. Perhaps the signal is thought, and through words on a page, through the medium of the graphic novel ... there is no noise.

It is an interesting book for semioticians, semanticists, but also film students and critics, not to mention comics lovers and anyone who wants to explore a mind dealing with an end, and a voiceless continuance.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Maybe the most touching Gaiman story I've read. 12 Aug 2008
By SOJJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I can't say enough good things about this book. I'm so happy it's finally been reprinted, and in such a grand format. The tag team of Gaiman & McKean has brought us much over the years, from Violent Cases to their various children's books to the multitude of covers they've worked together on.

This book holds a special place in my heart because it was one of a few books lent to me in the late nineties that got me back into comics. It's incredibly moving. (I could also add that the adapted play by the both of them is also FANTASTIC)

The story delves into the fragile nature of life, the sad happening of coming across the bitter knowledge of your own last days, due to your own body turning against you. The man is a creator, a story teller, and he deals with the information by writing his last great story, even just in his own mind. Maybe as a way to keep the story from being robbed of it's own life.

I won't go into the deeper elements of the story as some of the other reviews have explained them well but it changed the way I viewed how a story could be told in this format.

It's really something else, a work of art. It stands to all the invigorating stories that have been told since and then some.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Interesting format, good story 13 Nov 2009
By Marc Britten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Now days its hard to find something subtle. Something that doesn't beat you over the head with the point, but gently guides you there.

Gaiman has always had a knack for subtlety. Dave McKean pairs well with Gaiman and they work their magic in this piece.

This is more in vein with The Tragical Comedy, Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch and other more adult works the Gaiman has worked on than his Sandman and the slightly more traditional comic fair he has also done.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So Very Different 1 Dec 2013
By Travis Starnes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The story in this book is simple; a middle aged film director has been diagnosed with cancer. The story takes place almost entirely in his own flat, or inside his own mind as he writes a story of the turn of the millennium, the 999 one. It has to be said that this book came out original in shorts in 1989 so the whole millennium craze was quite big around that time. The problem with the film is that it is one he will never make as he is refusing treatment and he only has months to live.

Normally I would not spoil the ending, but obviously he die and you know that is the end point from the moment you start reading. There is quite a lot after he dies about what happens to his story and the places it goes and I do wonder how much of it was put in because of the original success of this book. There are a mass of editors notes at the beginning detailing its original publication in 1992 as a collection, through plays, radio dramas, rewrites and redraws and on to this second publishing. So when you read through the final few pages it almost blurs that line between the story in the story and the reality of this book and its own story as it has evolved in the real world.

If you enjoy a book that gives a lot of re-reading value, one that you can spend minutes on each page just looking into the art, rereading the words and trying to find hidden meanings, then you will utterly love this. However if you like to read purely for enjoyment and like dynamic art that flows with the writing, neither one requiring effort to fit into the narrative, then you will hate this and even worse, will probably not understand it. From my personal perspective, I am stuck right in the middle. I can appreciate what this is trying to achieve and I think it manages it very well, but it simply is not my idea of a ‘fun’ read. What will stay with me are the last two panels before it goes into the epilogue ‘Millennium’ and it would have been a better ending had it stopped right there.
I had such high expectations of it as I’ve heard great reviews. I’m also a huge fan of Gaiman’s ... 7 Aug 2014
By Jamie W. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The story centers on a dying filmmaker/writer who sets out to make an Armageddon type story. He writes, thinking no one will ever see the story or make the film. He will be dead before that happens. He tells of a society where the world is coming to an end and describes what the people do when faced with that. Do they give up and cry and weep? Or, do they continue on with their lives with the hope that nothing will actually happen? In a very real way, the writer is writing his own story, his own feelings. Does he give up and succumb to death, or does he continue to write?

I’m really not sure what to think of this or how to rate it. I had such high expectations of it as I’ve heard great reviews. I’m also a huge fan of Gaiman’s work. However, I just don’t feel this stood up in comparison to his other works. This was my first graphic novel, and that may have something to do with it. The story was ok and the illustrations were very well done. But, it just didn’t ressonate with me. Perhaps I didn’t get the deeper meaning of the story? Perhaps I only saw the noise? Perhaps I’m not a graphic novel fan? Time will tell. I definitely intend to pick up more of their work. Perhaps when I’ve had the chance to experience more graphic novels, I will be able to truly appreciate this one in comparison.
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