covers- BACCHUS no.46
I 'm not sure this solicitation image was for the Aug 1999 issue #46 of Bacchus, but since it doesn't relate compositionally to any other printed cover, it hardly matters. I can't deny that I spent as little time on it as I would on a con sketch. And the finished cover recycles a painting I made eight years earlier to go with my first Comics Journal interview. It looked much better in that original setting as the printing on Bacchus was sill making everything look murky. But I was always fond of that painting (i still like the texture of the bread) and between that and the piddling amount I made from it on its first outing, I didn't feel I was gypping anyone. This followed, as I said yesterday, a run of five issues where I didn't paint new covers but just coloured a panel from inside the book. They didn't look too bad and it sure saved time. When I posted yesterday's cover I started trying to recall why my mind wasn't entirely on the job at hand during these months. One reason is that I was spending most of my time at the drawing board on my 48 page illustration of Alan Moore's Birth Caul, which I published in June '99 very successfully with a print run of 18,000. But over and above that there was the problem that everything seemed to be falling apart around me and I was fearing for my future. The Direct Sales market was one thing. In my head I felt I was just merrily running the 'monthly' Bacchus book into the ground and at a future point not yet decided it would come to a finish. This didn't appear to be negotiable; sales dipped one or a couple hundered units on each issue and nothing could alter that. Anne went back to working as a legal secretary around this time, and what had been a busy studio operation was now just me on my own, hooking up with Mick Evans regularly to take care the design of the books. In fact, Mick also had six story pages in this issue, and White and Slattery ('Mr Duds' occasionally in this blog's comments box and more recently a bank manager, to the astonishment of all who know him) contributed a four-pager (in fact there were twenty pages of new art altogether, for anyone who thinks there was too much reprinting going on).
I'd been making a good living from comics since 1989, for ten years at this point, but things were getting tight. Everybody else I was working with was operating in the same market. Capital City, the second of the two big distributors, now went bust owing me ten thousand bucks. Kitchen Sink Press, who had rather strangely made an exclusive liaison with Capital, was caught in the middle of the release of the second Crow movie with all their merchandise tied up in Capital's closed down warehouse. They went bust too owing me and Alan over fifteen thousand bucks for From Hell royalties and that second Spirit story I produced in-house at Campbell industries (I paid everybody else involved at the time we made it, so to this day I'm still out of pocket on that one). The only thing I had that wasn't tied to the comic books distribution system was the upcoming From Hell movie; we'd been paid large for that in '98. But then, to top everything off, we lost the rights to From Hell to the conglomerate holding Kitchen Sink's assets. I was faced with a movie now officially going into production and no book coming out. I had to go through a few months of legal aggression to turn that around. By the time the above issue came out, my planet was back in its orbit. There's an ad on the back of it promising From Hell by November 1999, with the oil painting of the black hat, purple grapes and bloodied handkerchief. So at least the back cover was new.
And that's what went through my noodle when I looked at that cover after all this time, with wee Eddie Campbell drowning in a glass of wine in the foreground.