Dave McKean, the English illustrator, filmmaker and musician, kicks off this weekend's Toronto Comic Arts Festival with Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, a performance of music, images and reading, based on his new graphic novel about the British painter and war artist. We asked McKean what else was occupying his time these days.
What he's listening to: "Just out is Chick Corea: The Musician, a three-CD package and Blu-ray documentary. For his 70th birthday party in 2011, Chick took over the Blue Note in New York and invited friends old and new to join him as he revisited his extraordinary back catalogue of work: His time with Miles Davis featuring Jack DeJohnette and Eddie Gomez; his years with Return to Forever, here reformed with Frank Gambale stepping in on guitar; his many duet albums, represented here with glorious conversational improvised tunes with Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin and Gary Burton; and the huge influence of Spanish music on his life, with John McLaughlin and Carles Benavent."
What he's reading: "I've read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and nearly finished Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, the extraordinary double act by Yuval Noah Harari. Sapiens, from 2014, is a sweeping narrative of the history of mankind; Homo Deus, from 2016, extends the ideas that emerge from Sapiens into our future, to imagine where we are heading, and what we will become. Apparently free of prejudice and preconceptions, this Israeli historian has made a huge impact with these two books. Every page tingles with ideas and stories that illuminate human nature with intense clarity. So many times he manages to articulate vague feelings that I've had about our lives into meaningful moments on a grand arc of history. Humans don't come out of it all very well, and our poor enslaved livestock even less well, but in a world of Internet and media fog, these books are a lighthouse."
What he saw: "Aleksandr Sokurov's Francofonia is a resonant film from 2015 about the nature of fascism – a serious film for serious times. It's also the second film I've seen recently where characters in the film are sat down and told their futures by a god-like authorial figure. And both times I've found this unexpectedly moving."
Dave McKean's Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash makes its Canadian premiere at Toronto Comic Arts Festival (May 12 to 14, various venues) on May 12, 8:30 p.m. $10. Masonic Temple, 888 Yonge St., torontocomics.com