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Signal to Noise

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,797 ratings  ·  261 reviews
A film director is dying of cancer. His greatest film would have told the story of a European village as the last hour of 999 AD approached--bringing Armageddon. Now that story will never be told. But he's still working it out in his head, making a film that no one will ever see.
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Dark Horse Books (first published 1990)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,797 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goddamn fucking beautiful.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, mount-tbr-2018
Dark and thought-provoking.
Read. Please be prepared for its side effects.
Zoe's Human
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist, lt
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
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
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
Nov 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
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
Jun 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
A filmmaker is dying. He is retreating from everyday life as he gets worse. He is also working on a film he never believes to see made. It is the end of the world; the last day of the last month of the millennium; 999 AD. This book explores the noise of the world and what it means in our lives. It is an interesting concept and book. The noise between the chapters seems like just a jumble of words but does seem to represent the noise of the world that can distract us from what is important.
May 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
ok, so it's pretentious in that uniquely Gaiman way. but I loved it, and found moments of true clarity in it. one of my favourite graphic novels.
Luc Abdullah
"Why am I writing a film I will never make, writing something no-one will ever see? -- The world is always ending, for someone."

Dedicated to the noises in my head.
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful words, beautiful pictures, a sad and beautiful microcosm of human life and human death, human isolation and friendship, memories and stories, art and reality, signals and noise...
Anthony Peter
I'm in a bit of a minority here, I think, and really need a star system which means 'didn't get it'.

I keep trying graphic novels, but am happier with 'bandes dessines' - is that a fair distinction? - (Tintin, Asterix, Posy Simmonds) rather than the weird worlds created by Gaiman. I sort of get the Sandman stuff, but don't see the point of it - or, at least, it doesn't work for me. But it's clearly an art form that's taken seriously by a lot of people, and it works for them, so that's fine.

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