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Celluloid Hardcover – June 27, 2011

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The visionary art director behind The Sandman’s covers creates a coital masterwork that elicits beauty and excitement in equal measure.... Celluloid is a treasure of technical finesse and sensual mystique that transcends its potential controversy. (Sean Edgar - Paste)

A decidedly adult erotica graphic novel with no dialogue, this is the famed Sandman cover artist going at page after page of a sexy hallucination, whipped up by a magic porno movie projector. Dreamscapes with boners. (Cyriaque Lamar - io9)

Dave McKean’s art never fails to amaze me... I’ll never look at a fig, a pear, or a red tomatillo the same way again. ...I think this would make a good paper anniversary gift. (Gene Ambaum - The Unshelved Book Club)

About the Author

Dave McKean is an illustrator of books and comics, and a maker of films. His graphic novel Cages was recently re-released by Dark Horse Comics. He lives in Kent, England, with a wife, many fish, some millipedes and two children.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (June 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606994409
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606994405
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Count Orlok '22 on July 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dave McKean (the artist behind "Batman: Arkham Asylum" and "Mr. Punch") is one of my favorite modern artists and his comic book works are astonishingly beautiful and haunting. His unique visual sensibility makes this text-less graphic erotica completely original. In terms of wordless graphic novels, I've only read a few and this one is intriguing since it incorporates fantasy elements with reality and with no textual explanation. Like all of his work it is wondrously imaginative and slightly unnerving, yet in a way that is never gratuitously titillating or disturbing, at least not by my own standards.

"Celluloid" is a work of art that creatively explores rather than cheaply exploits human sexuality. Whether it will be viewed as such or not remains to be seen, but this is indeed a groundbreaking effort in a medium that is still perceived by many to be just for kids. To have erotica available within such a medium could be potentially very controversial, but it could also be an important stepping stone along the path to cementing the fact that graphic literature isn't just for children; that it can be artful, complex, and as adult-oriented as any other storytelling media.

The book, which is 232 pages, reads (or views rather, since there is no text) very quickly as a work of erotica should and I found that instead of examining each page and the details of the artwork for a long duration, I went through it quickly. I then read/viewed it again.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. KAPLAN on June 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's great to see a new graphic novel by Dave McKean. He's so well-known as an illustrator and cover artist, but we rarely see his sequential art (and even more rarely illustrating his own stories). Celluloid, told primarily in single-panel pages, is a dream/nightmare-like erotic hallucination, featuring a series of sexual scenes illustrated in a variety of styles. The art is gorgeous, and show McKean as a master at the top of his game.

As for the story... I'm not sure I understood it. I think it's going to take another couple of reads at least. Either I'm missing stuff, or it's just a series of images. (Or maybe both, and I'm just failing to make connections.) I can follow the flow of the story from panel to panel and page to page. I'm just not sure what it all means. (There's nothing wrong with artwork that challenges the reader. I'm just not sure how exactly I'm being challenged.)

So high points for the art, and for the potential of the storytelling, but lower marks for clarity or accessibility.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By on August 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Dave McKean, an artist best known for his work on Batman: Arkham Asylum and frequent collaborations with Neil Gaiman on Sandman and the film MirrorMask, breaks away from the mainstream with Celluloid, a finely-tuned and erotic graphic novel.

Erotica can be a fickle, alienating genre. In American culture, it's generally something to be shied away from, typically in favor of far more obscene acts of violence. Improperly crafted, it can turn away more people than it can attract and may end up being more embarrassing than stimulating. As such, it's a risky venture for a well-known, mainstream artist like Dave McKean to turn to. Many may immediately dismiss his latest as a work of puerile deviancy, but those sorts likely wouldn't even bother examining the book before casting such aspersions upon it. Although it is most certainly, and openly, erotic, Celluloid manages to be so much more than its label implies.

The book portrays a sexual odyssey in which a woman discovers an old film projector in her apartment. She is surprised to find it loaded with a pornographic movie, but as it plays, it begins to open a door into another world. Curious, she steps through and discovers a fantastic cityscape populated with phantom couples making love, along with another film projector that pulls her deeper into this new world.

What follows is a story of sexual growth and empowerment. She begins the story as a voyeur, but as she embraces the newly revealed and expanding worlds of physical pleasure, her self-confidence grows and she finds the strength to not be a subject of voyeurism herself. The landscapes and colors of the world change around her as she grows bolder in her participation, and McKean's artwork gains greater dimensionality as his central character grows more assertive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. McNeil on October 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this book on the recommendation from Neil Gaiman on FB. I am glad I did. It is intriguing and beautiful, yet edgy and off the beaten path. It is explicit without being crude, and you will find yourself leafing through it again and again, slower and slower as you absorb the full impact of the images.
Very well done and I'm happy to have it in my library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rich Stoehr on September 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are very few living artists today who I would use the term 'Renaissance Man' to describe. Clive Barker, for example - imaginative writer, visionary artist, dabbler in theatre and film. Dave McKean is another - painter, designer, filmmaker - and his graphic novel 'Celluloid' is one more reason (among many) why.

'Celluloid' is McKean's exploration into the realm of erotic fiction, and typical of McKean's work, he does so with an eye to the fantastic and the strange. This tale of a woman who walks through a doorway created by a film projection into world after world of sexual experience, featuring impossible anatomies and unexpected scenarios, is not your typical erotic story. McKean takes a somewhat trite setup and turns it into something adventurous and new.

And amazingly, he does it without words.

'Celluloid' is told completely through McKean's stunning images - sometimes photographs, sometimes painting, sometimes collage, sometimes just a few sketched lines...often a blending of all of these. McKean as a visual stylist is unmatched, and he brings all his different talents to bear here.

Whether it's depicting a shadowy, faceless man dominating his masked partner, or coupling with a woman with grapes for hair and a dozen breasts, or intimate explorations of hands and fingers and skin, McKean's images bring new life to the familiar. What the imagery sometimes lacks in narrative drive it makes up for in powerful impressions and sensations of sexuality.

'Celluloid' is sexually graphic without being pornographic, both sensual and sexual, a study in the exploration of the different forms of passion. It's something kind of magical to do all this in the graphic novel art form, and nobody but Dave McKean could pull it off quite like this.
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