Before Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean introduced American comic book fans to the joys of sophisticated suspense, they cemented their collaborative vision in "Signal to Noise", a decidedly literary use of the comic art form.
If you're looking for spandex-clad Barbie dolls flouncing about and sending off the occasional barrage of soap opera dialogue, look elsewhere. If you're into ancient gods and horror beyond compare, you won't find it here.
But if you're literary jones is only sated by the kind of extraordinary-ordinary situations real people experience in the real world from time to time, the kind of story which stays with you long after you've returned the book to its shelf, stick around awhile.
"Signal to Noise" is the story of a screenwriter racing against the clock to finish his final screenplay. It is also the story of simple peasants waiting for the world to end at the dawn of the second millenium. It is also the story of the immortality of art. It is all these things and more; which will surprise exactly none of Gaiman's fans, familiar as they are with his flair for layered storytelling.
The art is a revelation. I had previously been of the opinion that Dave McKean's distinctive art style evolved during his Sandman run, building on his "Arkham Asylum" work. I was clearly mistaken: "Signal to Noise" is classic McKean; that is, the artwork is unlike anything you've seen before yet does not draw focus away from the story itself.
I have studiously avoided commenting on the plot. When I first read "Signal to Noise," I was completely ignorant of the plot and thus found it to be simply astounding, rather like my experience upon reading Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta" for the first time. That the funny books so rightly derided by many could prove to be such an effective medium for true art is hard to believe. See for yourself what great writers and illustrators at the top of their game can accomplish. Pick up "Signal to Noise" now, and have your faith in comics reaffirmed.