Friday, 18 May 2007


T he color special was Teddy Kristiansen's idea. It probably started as one of those things you say at conventions; "hey, let's work together sometime!." He proposed it to Dark Horse, it was accepted, so I wrote a script and he painted the whole book. I had never done a whole comic book in color before, only covers, and more often than not I'd make a disaster out of those, but I said I'd do the cover for this one. Since this was going to be a big showpiece, the cover had to something special, so I pulled out the oil paints. This was a little box of cheap Chinese colors I bought back in '91 to do the three covers for 'Doing the Islands with Bacchus'. I had no problems with those, perhaps because they were done on paper, but with this new one I decided it should be done on a grand scale, large and on canvas board. I posed myself and the wife of my bosom by the natural light of a window and took a bunch of photos. I laid down the paint in undercoats and lauyers in the very old traditional manner of oil painting technique. It really is the medium for building up that integration of flesh tints. Now, the only problem was that i couldn't get the damn thing to dry. I even had it hanging out of the oven. Months were trundling by and still it was wet to the touch. It was a good thing Teddy was dragging his heels with the interior art. With regard to that, I had been paid on delivery for the script, so from Teddy's point of view, it wouldn't have looked like he was causing me difficulties, except that from my point of view it was totally necessary to my master plan that the color special come out before I launched my self published series (see yesterday's post).
Teddy was nearly done and things were coming to a close, so I decided to stick a big piece of that clear sticky backed plastic over the whole job (I usually did this with black line art whenever I used smeary pastels, and it always worked there... eg. From Hell chapter 2). Of course that was a stupid thing to do, the last resort of a desperate loony. My editor Diana Schutz received this monster in the mail and phoned.
"We can't photograph this. The light will bounce all over the place. it will be a mess."
"Okay." I replied. "This is what to do. Put it on the floor, put one end under your toes. Get Bob Schreck or somebody to pull the plastic sheet off in one firm tug."
"Are you nuts? I can't do that to your painting!"
"hmm.. let's try it this way then. you send it back here and Ill do it."
In a few days the painting was back with me by fedex. I laid it on the floor and asked the wife of my bosom to put her toes on one end while I firmly dragged the plastic sheet off. 70% of the painting was still on the board and the othr 30% was on the plastic.
In defeat I put the thing in the garden shed and painted another picture, this time in quick drying acrylics. That's the second one you see above. But this was now Dec 1994. The self publishing operation was advancing at full steam. I was probably working on the second issue by then, and My enthusiasm for the color special cover-image had waned. There was only one thing for it. I pulled the defeated picture out of the shed and finished it carefully with the quick drying acrylics. The damage was mostly to the dark areas,so i didn't have to mess around with that figure too much. I sent it in and it was photographed. I included the second picture in the package and that was used on the back cover. The book came out in April 1995, one month before my own launch. I think we got orders for 12,000, which nobody considered very good in those days, except me. For my own launch I got 8,500, which is what I usually got for a no.1 in a black and white mini-series when I was with Dark Horse, and that was great since now all the takings went to campbell Industries, and the US-Australian dollar exchange was all in my favour.
All's well that ends. (as Walt Kelly used to say).

Wicks trial bogs down-May 17,-Toronto Star
Man must show that cartoonist's family meant to abandon cache of his drawings
"Ben Wicks, who had moved to a condo late in his life, had stored many boxes of cartoons at his children's homes, either in cartons or loosely in green garbage bags.
As I said to Tom Spurgeon by email the other day, we need to be cautious about the word 'garbage bag' in this story. It's only comic book collectors who store art in acid free binders and boxes. We artists keep all or stuff in those black or green bags designed for tossing out the garbage. The dark opacity keeps out first all the light and secondly all the beasties and humidity. I keep all my archives thus, and as you can see from the things I show here, I keep them very well. I also said to Tom that I immediately asked my father-in-law about this story and he said it sounds like 'theft by finding'. Still, the case rages back and forth.
more here
At Forbidden Planet International my old pal Rian Hughes reminisces about the old days . Most interesting part is a scan of an invoice to Escape magazine for twelve quid. Well, there’s also cool art and a rather interesting photo, but you know me.
FPI : The new comic magazines really seemed aimed at the same audience that might buy music papers like NME or style mags like ‘The Face’ or ‘ID’. Was that the intention? It certainly all got a bit ‘rock and roll’ around then. I remember signings by yourself and Brendan in Dublin and Jaime Hewlitt and Alan Bond in Cardiff that felt a little like rock stars signing in terms of the adulation. Did you feel any of that ‘vibe’ or were you just thinking it looks like there will be a great new comics scene for us all to work in?)
RH : We were young, some of us younger, and so new to all this we simply thought it was just how it was supposed to be. I wasn’t sure what the “old” comic scene had been like, and so had no comparison. As to rock and roll… ask Grant to tell you the story of the chap who prostrated himself and kissed my shoes on stage at the ICA. Looking down, all I could see was his hairy arse poking out the top of his jeans.

Lionsgate Acquires Film Adaptation Of Graphic Novel "The Spirit"- May 17, 2007
hayley campbell is tickled by the cunning manipulation of perspective in this photie.

Labels: , , ,


Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...

I was going to comment especially on Hayley's favorite photie, but I'll keep my mouth shut. Who volunteers for something like that? Mouth shut firmly now...

Hey, you buy those special green and black bags too? We also have white ones here but they're not as heavy duty as the black and green ones. Some of my students understand but some just shake their heads when they see me walking into class looking like Mrs. Claus and a bag full of papers slung over my shoulders. Though for traveling, a suitcase is much nicer.

18 May 2007 at 00:59:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

I teach bloody oil painting, and that's enough for me to never want to use them, when I'm off work. No time to watch paint dry. Maybe when I'm in my 90's.

18 May 2007 at 01:49:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Brad Weber said...

Ingenious use of the black plastic bags. I'll be lining legal-sized filing boxes with the stuff for art storage. Easier to stack and safer than just leaving it lay around in bales.

18 May 2007 at 01:56:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous John C said...

I always avoided oils for that reason (and I didn't like stinking out the place with turps either). Used to paint with gouache, then I switched to acrylics. Which reminds me I haven't done any painting for a while now. Pesky computer takes over your life.

18 May 2007 at 05:51:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous duds said...

I still have version you painted and never used which you gave to me many years ago, was going to scan it but I am no computer programmer

18 May 2007 at 06:02:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous duds said...

Thought you might like, or dislike this as well if you hadn't already seen it

18 May 2007 at 06:05:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Jack Ruttan said...

Does your old stuff look yellow? I remember visiting my student paper years ago, and seeing my college original cartoons in a drawer. The felt marker with which I had so confidently filled in my blacks had bloomed purple for about an inch all around, rendering things slightly lesss than mint. Too bad for all those slavering collectors.

18 May 2007 at 06:59:00 GMT-5  
Blogger grant said...

most oil paints take at least a year to really truly be dry. I once had painting that was dry to the touch six months after completion, but then wet part underneath had some kind of chemical change and the painting literally spit on me.

I'm not sure if they have this product in Australia, but I use Galkyd made by the Gamblin company and it dries pretty quickly. Also if you make a concoction of one part Damar varnish, one part linseed oil and one part turp, you can get a nice medium that dries pretty fast.

18 May 2007 at 07:34:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've just come across an alternative cover for Black Diamond Detective Agency, on Nielson Bookdata (the bookselleing database) when you look up the book in paperback. I can't link to it as it's subscriber only thing And I've no idea how to embed the image here, sorry. Have you seen it? The tag line along the top is 'Orphan! Trains! Bombs!'

Ben Smith

18 May 2007 at 09:06:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh God, you can't trust Bookdata, this is a listing for another of your books.

'Alec: How to Beat an Artist
by Eddie Campbell
Top Shelf Productions Inc. (Top Shelf), Aug 2001, Published in USA. '

It also says it's out of print. Surely there's a new edition?

Ben Smith

18 May 2007 at 10:08:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Marcus Gipps said...

Actually, I noticed the other day that "How to Beat an Artist" is how it's listed on Amazon, who of course just source most of their data from Neilsen.

Rubbish Amazon!

Althugh that's my second post in about two days to bash them, so I'll stop now. Although i do work for another bookshop, so I sort of have to whinge about them...


18 May 2007 at 10:37:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley said...

I was always finding fuck ups in Bookdata.

But never anything quite as brilliant or hilarious as 'How to Beat an Artist'.

Wish I was at home to see yer face when you read Ben's post, Pa.

18 May 2007 at 11:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Michael Bowen said...

I remember that color special fondly. It was the first Bacchus book I ever bought.

18 May 2007 at 20:32:00 GMT-5  
Blogger HemlockMan said...

The plastic cover with the chips of paint on it recently was auctioned for $16K on Ebay.

18 May 2007 at 20:35:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

Eddie, another heads-up, which you may have already seen: The Evolution of Modern Speech balloons from Andy's Early Comics Archive.

19 May 2007 at 09:45:00 GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home