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David (Dave) McKean

Neil Gaiman

Dave McKeanBorn December 29th 1963 in Taplow, Berkshire, England, David McKean began his illustrious career by studying at Berkshire College of Art and Design (1982-1986). Before graduating he began work as an illustrator. Hoping to find work as a comic book artist McKean traveled to New York in 1986 to present a portfolio of his work to comic giants D.C. Comics, Marvel and others but met with no success.

Shortly after the unsuccessful trip to New York Dave McKean met Neil Gaiman and began a collaborative relationship that has spanned many years, continuing to this day. Their first collaborative effort was the graphic novel Violent Cases (1987) which has not only been printed worldwide but also adapted into a stage production. Other collaborations by McKean and Gaiman are a mini-series Black Orchid (1988) and covers for DC Comic’s horror comic book series Hellblazer, The Face magazine’s Signal to Noise (1990) and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch (1994).  In 1989 McKean began designing and illustrating the covers for Gaiman’s Sandman series of graphic novels, completing them in 1997. He also illustrated many of the Sandman spin-offs. 1998 saw the covers compiled into one volume and released as Dustcovers: The Collected Sandman Covers.

The highly successful Batman graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (1989) featured McKean’s illustrations, taking 120 paintings to complete, and his work was likened to that of American award-winning artist and writer Bill Sienkiewicz’s.

Neil Richard GaimanNeil Richard Gaiman was born in Portchester, Hampshire, England on November 10th, 1960 and from a very early age acquired a love of books, becoming an avid reader from the age of 4, preferring to spend his leisure time in a library than pursuing other pastimes, often spending an entire day there. Among his favorite authors during his childhood were J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Edgar Allen Poe, James Branch Cabell, Michael Moorcock, Gene Wolfe, G.K. Chesterton and Ursula K. LeGuin. While he had a distinct love of the written word, Neil Gaiman also discovered comic books, an interest that became a passion in later years.

Gaiman’s love of reading gave wings to his dream of becoming an author and at around the age of 20 he made contact with R.A. Lafferty, a science fiction writer that he had discovered at the age of 9. Gaiman wrote asking Lafferty for advice about becoming an author and included a piece he had written. He was pleased to receive a letter of response in return, encouraging him to pursue his dream, with some sound literary advice included.

Gaiman began writing when he started his career in the early 1980’s as a journalist, his work mainly consisting of writing book reviews and conducting interviews. His aim was to build up connections that could serve him well in his future by helping him gets published. During this time he also wrote and reviewed for the British Fantasy Society as well as other magazines, often using pseudonyms. His first published professional work, Featherquest, was a short fantasy story in Imagine Magazine.

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Check out our classification of the best gifts for book lovers

While it is natural to think books when considering what to give your book loving friend or family member they will likely enjoy a non-book gift just as much. Unless you know what sort of books they like it can be hit-or-miss when choosing them as a gift. Fortunately there is plenty of other, just as enjoyable gifts you can give them. The following should give you some great ideas and make buying for your book loving friend or family member so much easier.

Book Scented Candle“This Book Belongs To….” Stamp – While it can be difficult for even the most average book lover to let one of their books out of their sight some do like to lend them to others so that they may enjoy them too. Getting beloved books back is sometimes a challenge but if you give your book lover a Bookplate Stamp they can mark their books with their name so that when they loan them out in future they have a much greater chance of getting them back without asking.

Adult Coloring Books and PensAdult Coloring Books and Pens – While still technically a book, coloring books for adults are great therapy for anyone who is feeling stressed. Not just therapeutic but a whole heck of a lot of fun too, as the book lover can let some of their creativity flow out onto the page in their choice of colors. Some adult coloring books have removable pages which when completely colored in can be framed and then hung on their wall.

Oversized Bean Bag ChairOversized Bean Bag Chair – The great thing about a bean bag chair is that you can mold it to fit your body, and what better way to relax when reading a great book than in the most comfortable chair you could ever sit in. Now, when you opt for the oversized version your book lover will not only be able to sit in it but also lie down, which for some is the absolute best way to be when reading. The large ones are also big enough for sharing.

Find out more gift ideas here.