Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Signal to Noise” as Want to Read:
Signal to Noise
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Signal to Noise

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,919 ratings  ·  272 reviews
Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean present their masterpiece in a completely remastered and redesigned edition overflowing with bonus material!

Somewhere in London, a film director is dying of cancer. His life's crowning achievement, his greatest film, would have told the story of a European village as the last hour of 999 A.D. approached - the midnight that the villagers were con
Paperback, 80 pages
Published April 1st 1993 by Dark Horse Comics (first published 1990)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Signal to Noise, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Signal to Noise

Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiPreludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Best Graphic Novels
2,952 books — 6,416 voters
Neverwhere by Neil GaimanAmerican Gods by Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanStardust by Neil GaimanCoraline by Neil Gaiman
Best of Neil Gaiman
113 books — 499 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,919 ratings  ·  272 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Signal to Noise
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My store received a copy of this new hardcover edition of "Signal to Noise" just the other day, and before shelving it, I decided to read it. We were slow, and it's short, so I figured I could get through it in an hour or so. I'd read the story once before, though as an internet download of scanned pages rather than in an actual bound edition. At the time, I didn't really get it, and I hoped that reading it in this new edition might make it easier for me to understand. Boy, did it. The second ti ...more
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
I need to think about this.
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Twenty years ago, I picked up an earlier edition of Signal to Noise in a comic book shop. Before this book, I had listlessly followed the trends in superhero comics like many indoor-boys before me ("Robin died?" "Now Superman’s dead?" "Valiant Comics are worth more than other comics?" "Image is really innovative?"). Signal to Noise changed that. This book featured regular people struggling with the death of a loved one and their own mortality, about the reasons and nature of having an apocalypti ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
This is a graphic novel from Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. A film director from London is dying from cancer. He refuses treatment - which looks hopeless anyway - and keeps working on his last movie (sorry, we are talking about Great Britain here, so it is a film he works on). There are actually two plot lines in here: the one about the dying guy and the one about the people who exist inside his mind as a part of the film.

There are some interesting ideas in here and the drawings are always top-no
I got Signal to Noise from Netgalley, presumably for whatever release is current or about to happen. It's not great, reading it on screen: the resolution wasn't great, and I think it probably looks better as a bunch of two-page spreads.

Nonetheless, it tells a powerful story, and it's a very thoughtful one: this isn't a graphic novel in the sense of comics with superheroes and over-powered fight scenes, bulging muscles, etc. This is a meditation on art and death, and consequently life. I'm not th
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm a pretty hard-core advocate for drinking the Gaiman Kool-Aid. Basically, if you've met me, I've recommended Gaiman to you. I just don't meet people without in some way referencing what a supremely wonderful author he is.

That said, "Signal to Noise" is much more a Dave McKean piece than a Neil piece, reading more like "Cages" than say "Sandman" or "Murder Mysteries." There isn't really a hint of the fantastic anywhere in the story. A man learns he is dying and tries to cope with the end of th
The world is always ending for someone.

What makes this worth reading is not the story. The story is that of a dying man creating what he wants to be his legacy, working on that one last thing relentlessly, finishing it and then passing away... it's not the first time it's been done. Although this does add something more, it adds the sense of story and real life blending together. Life mirrors art mirrors life. Faced with death we stop making distinctions.


What makes this worth reading is the
Nuno R.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gaiman's storytelling and McKean's art go very well together. In Signal to noise, the story has different layers and voices, micronarratives and points of view. Neil Gaiman was able to glue them together, in a narrative prism, creating a complex, alluring story. And Mackean does something similar visually, using many types of techniques and styles, mixing and superimposing, refining and deconstructiing. Their colaboration has produced great moments in comics. This is one of the best.
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean tell (in the best possible medium) a beautiful, haunting story about mortality. The artwork will stretch your soul.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Goddamn fucking beautiful.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, mount-tbr-2018
Dark and thought-provoking.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of my friends let me borrow this in high school. I perused it for the pictures, but I never read it. What did I care about an old man reflecting on his twilight years when I was in my mid teens?

For years this book was just this amorphous abstract book of art, the details of which I was never sure of, but I always felt it’s have some importance in my life . . . someday.

So I picked it up from the college library today while looking for a few graphic novels to soak up my weekend.

It reminded m
Read. Please be prepared for its side effects.
Zoe's Human
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lt, wishlist
Illustrations and text are beautifully paired in this examination of mortality. In a story that elegantly parallels the end of the world with the end of an individual, we are asked to consider if the patterns we see are real or are imposed by our own fears and desires. And in the end, how much does the answer to that question truly matter?

Signal to Noise is an exquisite example of the best that graphic novels have to offer. It defies those who fail to recognize the power of the form to reach the
Travis Starnes
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: requested, ebook
Signal to Noise is a graphic novel that left me much divided on how to rate it, and how to feel. On one hand, the story is brilliantly told. Signal to Noise narrates the struggle of a filmmaker with cancer, whose final masterpiece will go on unseen- except by those of us reading the story. It was a powerful journey, and the window into the director's head was a fascinating one. It was well worth the read, though it is a bit of a slow one.

I wasn't a huge fan of the artwork, however. It wasn't bad
Vanya Grivova
I haven't loved a book (comics) so much in a long time. It was really great and I have officially found my favourite book (comics) by Gaiman.
I have read 33 books since my last 5 stars rating, so this book is pretty special for me. And how wouldn't it be? It has a heartsick main character, who is obsessed with the idea of The End of the World, and it is filled with the philosophy of absurdism.
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Poignant. My favorite quote "we are always living in the final days. what have you got? a hundred years or much, much less until the end of your world." I am not a big fan of Dave McKean's art but when added to Neil's words you something that is akin to art, poetry and music combined.
A fascinating story about endings and dyings. A great book to read in the Winter. Quiet and contemplative. I actually enjoyed this. We all face our own personal apocalypse.
Richard Gray
A quick read because I was out of renewals at my local public library. This isn't so much a comic or a graphic novel as an art installation on paper. Originally published in UK style magazine The Face, the story of a dying man writing a film he will never get to make is instantly relatable to any creator. This mixed media project is part collage, part poetry, part free train of thought. Perhaps the only caveat with this edition is that some of the text is so small that it's almost impossible to ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Similar in vein to the graphic novel Daytripper, Signal to Noise is a narrative about imagination, art, life, and death. A director is told that he is going to die and so he spends his last few weeks of life crafting his last film in his head, a story about the year 999AD in Europe.

Dave McKean shines in his artwork in this book following Gaiman's gorgeous prose and one feels in this work a real depth of spirit. This book isn't just a shallow meditation on death, it's a real effort to get at the
Sheri Howard
This was a radio adaptation of a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. Something must have been lost in translation as I was left thinking "I don't get it!"—yet I'm still thinking about it today even though I listened to it yesterday. So I want to find the graphic novel to see if I can figure out what I'm missing. It's Neil Gaiman after all—there's got to be something weird and wonderful to it.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
The drawings are a collection of visual arts, with a script that only Neil Gaiman could get us used to. It's not happy, it's not sad, it's just an universal truth.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jesus, 999 A.D., Nostradamus, Jonestown, Y2K, the Mayan Calendar, December twenty-one 2012...

Somewhere, somewhen, somehow, somebody's world is ending.

I couldn't help but think of all the recent hooplah concerning the 12-21-12 hype and how so many intelligent people that had never wanted to admit it, had a sigh of relief once midnight came and went.
So, the world didn't end on 12-21-12... or did it?
I can only imagine someone dying on that fateful day, at that fateful time and what their last thoug
Beatriz Andrea Fernandez
I don't know that I'm entirely sure what to make of this comic. After reading it, I wasn't really sure what I thought. It didn't capture my imagination or speak to my heart. It is just a quiet little story of a man about to die. Nothing extraordinary.

But that's precisely why, despite my initial indifference, the story lingered around me. It slows you down and reflects back to you the absurdity of life, and of death. I don't know that I understood everything. I imagine if I seriously applied myse
Paul Frandano
Haunting end-of-life parable from the inimitable Gaiman and McKean...
Jun 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is the first graphic novel I've read. I had to give it a try, but I think I prefer regular novels, despite being both an artist and a reader.

I liked the story, but you have to use your imagination even more than you do for usual books, because there are only a few lines of text to tell you what's happening.

The plot is intriguingly deep -- the title refers to determining which things in our lives are important (the signal), and which are noise. The main character of the story is dying, and k
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm quite a bit skeptical in rating this book according to how it was executed and how it made me feel afterwards. The thing is, I gotta say that the story was brilliantly written with flair and finesse. It tells about the struggle any person can relate whether succumbing to a terminal disease or not. It's an endearing story told in a very gloomy manner. As for the artwork, not that it's bad - in fact it is quite extraordinary if you ask me. The details to every single page is quite astonishing. ...more
Alex Ankarr
Nov 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Signal To Noise is a very effective graphic novel. I forced myself, due to the foreword, to not rush through the words and absorb all the pictures sloooooowly. The art is surreal. Photographs, pencil art and CGI come together to unsettle the helljeebers out of the reader. The story is really beautiful, and is one of the few that I have read that does not treat Death as poignant, beautiful, and such jazz, instead treating Death as a Full Stop.

I am going to be watching 8 1/2 after this, let us see
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • xkcd: volume 0
  • Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery
  • Malas
  • Black Kiss
  • Tungstênio
  • Cages
  • Zorras
  • Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die (Machine of Death, #1)
  • The Sandman: The Dream Hunters
  • A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting
  • Minor Miracles
  • The Spirit: The New Adventures Archives
  • Modotti: una mujer del siglo XX
  • Old Masters: A Comedy
  • Todos os reis estão nus
  • O Mez da grippe
  • Aranyaka
  • Secret Wars
See similar books…

Related Articles

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young...
50 likes · 17 comments
“I sat in the dark and thought: There’s no big apocalypse. Just an endless procession of little ones.” 103 likes
“The world is always ending for someone. It’s a good line. I give it to the father of the child. He says it to his wife. ‘The world is always ending for someone,’ he says. She is trying to quieten the baby, and does not hear him. I doubt that it would matter if she did.” 25 likes
More quotes…