Saturday, 19 May 2007

covers- BACCHUS no.6

Colour covers always filled me with a spirit of gleeful liberation. This one features Bacchus with Collage, who had been introduced in the previous issue. She was intended to be ‘The spirit of an instantaneous, chance-embracing new age.’ (I lifted that phrase from somewhere, but Googling it doesn’t give a result.) And whether that job description was different enough from the Eyeball Kid’s, as queried by one critic, I am not sure. The image is based on Grant Wood’s American Gothic, although that is probably not obvious in the finished version. Collage is cast as the old man’s daughter (Wood meant her to be a daughter, but posterity has mistaken her for the man’s wife.) I drew the black and white and Pete Mullins coloured. In the background I asked him to use those markers where when you use the white one last it changes the colours of all the others where it touches. Red changes to yellow, green to red, each one not what the eye expects from a knowledge of mixing pigments. I wanted to confuse anyone who was accustomed to ‘reading’ colour mixes. Then for good measure I stuck a fish on the top.
I’m hoping the above looks right as Blogger is playing silly buggers again.
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Those damn garbage bags in the Wicks case continue to be a subject of fascination here at Campbell.blogspot:
Judgment reserved in Wicks cartoon case --May 17,
"The final submissions were presented today in the lawsuit by Ben Wicks' family to reclaim a vast collection of cartoons left behind in a move 15 years ago. The Wicks family is seeking the return of more than 2,400 original sketches dating back to the 1960s.
They were left behind by movers in 1992. The cartoons were found in three green garbage bags, some of which were mixed in with kitchen waste. In court today, the defendant's lawyer, Charles Campbell told the judge, "If it was packed like garbage, looked like garbage and smelled like garbage, then it was garbage."

I can easily envision a scenario in which, with me deceased and not there to oversee things, the garbage bag containing my most prized possessions is left by an unthinking clod of a removals man next to the garbage bag containing… well, garbage… perhaps even a dead rat our cat brought in. And then perhaps the discovery of a note to not throw out any garbage bags, that all said garbage bags might then be put aside together in the garage. Maybe even some extra garbage gets tossed in the one containing the prized possessions. Yes, I can see that. It’s in my nighmares every night. Right after the scene where I’m back at school with 36 years of uncompleted assignments.
They should have asked for my affidavit

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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.

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Thursday, 17 May 2007

covers- BACCHUS no.1

A lways on the lookout for stuff to show here, I noticed some interesting oddities in my master-file of Bacchus copies when I was looking in there recently. These include unused art, variations and interesting solutions to technical problems that you may find either educational or too Campbellian to be of any use to anybody anywhere. I'm just going to show a handful of the more interesting ones.
My first issue was fairly straightforward. The finished line art is dated Sept 1994 and the painting Nov. 1994 even though it wasn't to be released until May 1995. I would never again be this far ahead of the game in all my years of self-publishing. I even had time to make a concept sketch in pencil, and furthermore, to file a photocopy of it. The ink version appeared in black and white ads wherever needed. I had to look hard to remember who did what on it. I think Pete Mullins must have pencilled the girl and then I inked the whole thing. Pete then painted in acrylics over a photocopy of the line art made on the sturdiest paper or card that the copy machine could handle. Pete paints great hair. The third image is the colour xerox from my file, and these never looked 100% accurate; the flesh tones look too red, but on the other hand I remember being a little disappointed with the yellow on the finished print. The printed versions always looked dirty compared to the xeroxes and I came to expect that and make allowances. There's a warmer tone about the printed version which is perhaps a mix of aging paper and the different photographic process. Furthermore, the printer, Preney in Canada, lately defunct, had a rather annoying tendency to make things blacker than they needed to be, which means in painted work even the yellows will have an unwelcome amount of grey content. We were well underway before I got around to speaking to them about it. This was my first experience in buying printing and I didn't know much about the process. If things looked murky, I was inclined to think of it as an inevitability rather than something within my control. But after dealing with comic book publishers for some time Preney were in the habit of cranking up the output on the black inkjets. This is fine with black line art, but for painting it's all wrong. Also at this time, I had no idea how to put a logo on a cover other than by gluing it onto line art, which you can't do with colour. I simply left enough space for it, and asked Preney to put it on there in red with a black drop-shadow, in the same place as we put it in the completed black line ad. Thus the logos on my first five issues were pretty much left to chance.

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Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Crow, crow, cackle, cackle.

The two posts I wrote about old time Marvel "inker" Vince Colletta made me remember what an opinionated bunch of clots you can find arguing about comic books. As obnoxious boys they will argue about who is stronger, Spiderman or the Hulk. When they're a bit older they become half-arsed art critics.

From the words of clots who don’t know a thing about anything and think Colletta ruined Jack Kirby's art by changing it: (from my comment section May 9th.)
“I don't care whether Vince Coletta was a "good" or "bad" person. And up to a few years ago, I didn't know he erased backgrounds. I just know I've hated his work because it looks awful.
Oh, yeah, he does beautiful doe's eyes on girls. Unfortunately, he seems unable to have both eyes on the same level. The faces he inks invariably end up lopsided, the eyes are wide open on one side and half closed on the other.”

From the words of one who inked Jack Kirby’s work for several years and is universally held in high esteem, presumably because he didn't change the master's work when he "inked" it:
"But it's fairly interesting, the story that I'm working on. I'm certainly enjoying it because Jack penciled it in May of 1970. Can you imagine? Thirty-six years ago. And here I am, doing Fantastic Four again on unpublished art. I am rediscovering idiosyncrasies, like him not putting two eyes on the same plane, so I have to correct things like that again."
Opinionated clots everywhere, go screw yourselves!!!
That's from a new interview with the great Joe Sinnott, under the auspices of Tomorrows, from a special publication devoted to the man, on sale May 23. sign me up for one.
(link via Dirk Deppey)
(also, My pal Stuart Immonen picked up the ball and ran with it two days back)

Apologies to those of my readers who have come to enjoy a modicum of gentlemanly behaviour here at campbell.blogspot. but now I have shown my true, shameful, colours.

this was a late update. the proper post follows.

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I just found my soulmate (don't tell the wife).

T o the right is the probable cover for the second volume of the French Alec. It's Three Piece Suit in my own edition, but I've been told that won't fly in France. From Ca et La hopefully in September.
There was an interview /article on Lionel Shriver, the author of We need to talk about Kevin in the most recent Weekend Australian magazine, which is online but you have to pay.
"Her novel about a campus killer was rejected by 30 publishers before finally getting into print...".
From Amazon .com, the Publishers Weekly review: "A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far."
This passage from the Australian shows the habits of her daily life to be remarkably not unlike my own, and I was once called Frugal MacDougall in the middle of an argument about them: "Surprisingly, her life has changed little since she won the prestigious Orange Prize, awarded to female fiction authors." (the prize is thirty thousand quid... it would keep you nicely for a year) "But the real value is the hugely enhanced book sales- 600,000 in Britain alone. Yet she still lives in the same rented flat in inner-city Southwark- shouldn't she be buying somewhere? "No, I'm too much of a coward! Large amounts of money scare the hell out of me. And the thought of going around looking at property is odious, your life passes before your eyes and you feel a bit like dying." She still cycles everywhere, still buys her clothes in charity shops, still refuses to have a mobile phone. It's so bad that I have virtually no tax deductions because I don't spend any money. I don't keep the heat on during the day, even in winter (which explains why she suffers from Reynaud's disease- poor circulation- and has to wear gloves all the time.) Other people seem to regard these little habits as peculiar. But I suppose I am bloody minded about cycling everwhere. I bicycled to those (book) parties last night. I wore these clothes. I'm also very frugal about laundry because I don't like to do it, so I wear the same clothes all week."

"That sounds just like you!" said the wife of my bosom as she handed me the article to read. That's her sleeping soundly in the above picture while I contemplate the fickleness of biscuits.

However I'm reminded of the episode of Sienfeld, in which Jerry finds a girl exactly like himself in every possible way, and he falls in love. By the end of the episode he can't stand her any more and arrives at the logical conclusion that he doesn't like himself.

(update: Roly in comments indicates the Shriver piece syndicated from the UK Observer) (should have thought of that)


Google in Klingon, says hayley campbell.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Blithering idiots.

I was looking forward to saying something about the Toepffer books, Father of the Comic Strip, and The Complete Comic Strips, from Mississsippi University Press, but they sent my order surface mail and it will take three months to get here. You'd think with the amount of intelligence housed in such an establishment they would figure that a fellow eager to part with ninety seven bucks for two books would be happy to pay air mail to get them within ten days. I told them I would mention on my blog what blithering idiots they are, and that's what i'm doing here. And if it seems too harsh, i'm too upset to think about it properly.


The Villains in my Home Town- part 15.

This is the last of the courtroom sketching material that I kept a record of: the "Black Widow' I wrote about way back on 6th feb. You can see the full figure version at the link, as it's the only one of all my sketches that I thought of scanning before delivering it (all other images in this series were lifted from video tape).
There were afew others, such as the Malaysian diplomat with a suitcase full of bank bills, a couple more rapists and a big prison gang, five guys all at once. I did this courtroom sketching gig sporadically over a two year period*. I only got into it by accident and considered it a challenging adventure. If I find myself in strained circumstances one day, and they still aren't letting cameras into the courtroom, I believe I could make a modest living from it. Instead of just being on call, I'd put myself in a position to call the shots. I'd study the form, like a racing tipster, know what trials were coming up and which were likely to be of interest to the public. Then I'd check out all the courtrooms and know the best vantage points for getting a good view. I'd get in early, do the work and then syndicate it out to the various tv channels and newspapers. I'd also know what was going on in the courthouses of remote towns and make arrangements to get around.

There are a few sites on the net by people who do make a living from it:

Ralph Sirianni
"Once allowed into the courtroom, the artist can only hope for a decent vantage point. Oftentimes, the individuals to be drawn are facing away or blocked from view. The time factor was important in that as little as 10 to 15 minutes would be a short appearance, as opposed to an hour to 2 hours. At times the tension in the room was very high. This intensifies the speed required to complete a drawing (or 2 or 3) for networks waiting to shoot live."

Art Lien of Ellicott City, MD. GOING WHERE CAMERAS CANNOT.
"The U.S.Supreme Court is my regular beat for NBC News, but I also cover trials and hearings as far west as Denver and as far south as Guantanamo."
lately moved here
Art makes the kind of drawings that require being ensconced in the courthouse all day long. Very complete views of the room with exact perspectives, and everybody present. Except the jurors of course. we must never show them, so sometimes their blank silhouette placeholders look a bit jarring. I always found it more expedite to let the viewer feel that they were in the jury's place.

A good book on the subject, at Amazon, and you can peep inside.
Art of Justice: An Eyewitness View of Thirty Infamous Trials (Hardcover)
"As principal courtroom sketch artist for the New York Times and WABC in New York, Marylin Church covered many of America's most infamous trials, from the downfall of John Gotti to the trial of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley; from the conviction of Martha Stewart..."
One grand drawing in here made me realise I'd never been in a courtroom with windows. Our courthouse here is a recent building with no views of the sky or street outside.


Monday, 14 May 2007

"What else are we missing?"

Michael Evans sends me this thought for the day:
"Artists are the antennae of the race, but the bullet-headed many will never learn to trust the great artists."- Ezra Pound
I missed this from last month's Washington Post. They had the idea of placing one of America's finest violinists as a busker in the morning rush and gauging the reaction.
Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out.
By Gene Weingarten. Washington Post Staff Writer. April 8
"In his 2003 book, Timeless Beauty: In the Arts and Everyday Life, British author John Lane writes about the loss of the appreciation for beauty in the modern world. The experiment at L'Enfant Plaza may be symptomatic of that, he said -- not because people didn't have the capacity to understand beauty, but because it was irrelevant to them.
"This is about having the wrong priorities," Lane said.
If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?"

(via Bob Morales)
I'm reading Chabon's new book, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and enjoying reading his finely chiseled prose as much as he appears to have enjoyed writing it, though of course it is generally wise for one to avoid the presumption that a writer got any kind of similar pleasure from the writing of a work as one got from reading it.
"And just last week, amid the panic and feathers of a kosher slaughterhouse on Zhilovsky Avenus, a chicken turned on the scochet as he raised his ritual knife and announced, in Aramaic, the imminent advent of Messiah... the miraculous chicken offered a number of startling predictions, though it neglected to mention the soup in which, having once more fallen silent as God Himself, it afterward featured. Even the most casual study of the record, Landsman thinks, would show that strange times to be a Jew have almost always been, as well, strange times to be a chicken."
If you've never seen Alan Moore's drawings of Glycon and Asmodeus, John Coulthart shows them here, and you can enlarge them enough to appreciate the detail.
Neil Gaiman has the photos of the wedding of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. I saved that till the end knowing that if you went there first you'd forget to come back here.


Sunday, 13 May 2007

heavy stuff

The Villains in my Home Town- part 14.

H e embezzled a million bucks from his business partner and blew it at the casino. He'd already done the same thing in Hong Kong

The judge called him a greedy man and gave him nine years.

'Hot Fuzz' proves Brits are more adept at comedy than Americans.-- Santa Cruz Sentinel. May 12, 2007
"Two weeks ago in this column, I lambasted what I called "The New American Comedy" — the rude, crude, shock comedy of Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers and their ilk. I said their films were virtually plotless, their antics childish, their dialogue without wit or any verbal sparkle, and that generally speaking their comedy operated on a level of fourth-grade toilet humor. That audiences had made these comics and their films box office hits, I concluded, was sad proof of the dumbing down of our culture..."

Charles Mingus' famous last work, His ambitious 'Epitaph' will come to life at Disney Hall. Los Angeles Times--May 6, 2007
"With 19 movements embracing everything from elemental blues to bebop, from soul and ballads to the most extreme avant-garde music, both jazz and classical, "Epitaph" is unique, one of the most expansive works ever written by a composer with roots in the jazz world.
"Nobody was more surprised than I was," says (Sue) Mingus (widow). "Charles only talked about what turned out to be 'Epitaph' if I was complaining about something of my own. If I said, 'Oh, I submitted something to the New York Times and they rejected it,' and moaned around the household in martyred tones, Charles would say, 'Well, I've written a whole symphony that was never performed. How do you think it feels to be a composer and have a whole symphony that's never been heard?' ."
"Back in the '70s," she recalls, "someone showed up one day from the library wanting to pay real money for scores. Who knew they were worth anything? They paid maybe a thousand dollars, which was a lot of money then. And Charles, whether he did it mischievously or not, stuck his hand in the closet and pulled out 'Inquisition,' added it and sold that as well. Whether he thought, 'Ah-ha, I'll show them when they finally get around to playing 'Epitaph' years after I'm gone!' or not, I don't know. But that's how it got to Lincoln Center. Fortunately, it made its way back to us."

(link via Bob Morales)
Daily Star, India, Book Review. May 12.
The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers by Sarnath Banerjee; Delhi: Penguin India; 2007;
"The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers is a graphic novel. And what is a graphic novel? Author Sarnath Banerjee, who is on the fast track to becoming a cult figure among India's small but tightly knit cohort of graphic novel readers, answered it best when asked what kind of a 'writer' he was: "I am a comic book writer. 'Graphic novel' is a term publishers use to segregate comics which have a certain literary quality. And have concerns which are novelistic…whatever that means."
(file under "It's not a graphic novel, Percy.")