Monday, 3 November 2008

bunny wilson

Every three or four years it seems I have to haul Watchmen out of my file room, this time at the request of wee Callum, his interest no doubt sparked by the upcoming movie. And every time I fetch it up here I always find myself rereading it from the start. It is indeed one of the great novels of our time.

But I want to digress. The appendix to the fifth part focuses on old time artist Joe Orlando, involving him in the story in an oblique but cheeky way with all that stuff about the pirate comic books. Joe even drew a special page for the piece. I was reminded, and I'll tell you why in a minute, of my fictional cartoonist Bunny Wilson. This person was an invention I tried to pass off as real between 1996 and 2001. I painted over an old photo of a British train robber and showed it with some badly reproduced photos of other cartoonists such as Alan Moore and myself and Dave Sim, and Pete Mullins, with the intention of convincing the reader of its veracity:


Another thing that I decided was necessary to make this hoax work was to find a well known image from the 1960s which no artist had signed or ever laid claim to. I fastened upon the sea monkeys ad, a picture that everybody must have seen in their lifetime:


I can no longer recall, but I believe I did state it in print at least once that Bunny Wilson was the artist behind this well known and widely reproduced image. My ingenious hoax fell apart on two fronts, though I can't remember the order of them. the first was that Seth came out and admitted the cartoonist Kalo, the subject of his novel It's a good life if you don't weaken was a hoax, and he'd gone to a lot of trouble creating the relevant cartoon artefacts and passing them off with sleight of hand. It completely took the wind out of my sails. The second was when at the funeral of Joe Orlando in 1998 (Bob Morales told me over the phone) somebody told the anecdote about how Joe drew those damn sea-monkeys. If it was known before that, the knowledge certainly wasn't common. Not to be outdone I decided that Bunny should have a funeral too. All my pals cheerily put on their best suits on a Sunday afternoon and we posed at the cemetery for a mock newspaper spread in a late issue of Bacchus:


And that was the end of that. Except it always bugged me that nobody ever cared or said anything on the subject. As Bunny always said (hey, he's as real to me as any other drawn character, like Rorschach, or Dan Dreiberg) 'Aw, What's the Use?"






So finally I put him in one of my more obviously autobiographical stories:


which bugged at least Craig Fischer in his lovely review of my work-"I remain fascinated--and, admittedly, a bit annoyed--that this gag leaked into Campbell's... more "serious" autobiographical work. He exaggerates, he lies, he contradicts himself, and he tries to fool us: should we trust any of his stories?"

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26 Comments:

Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Actually, there are rumours going around that Eddie campbell doesn't really exist...

3 November 2008 9:23:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Peeboo said...

I've lost 3 copies of Watchman to friends and family over the years. I have a copy of 'Watching the Watchmen' on its way this week..do you think I can find my copy of Watchman again!!

4 November 2008 12:15:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James May trotted out an interesting line in defence of Top Gear on the radio yesterday. He said something like "it's all true, even if it's not all real". Top fella, James May. There's a brilliant anecdote about how he got the sack from Auto Trader that is probably right up yours and/or Mr Evans' street at Wikipedia. It's even true. Stevie B

4 November 2008 4:39:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Mikel Midnight said...

I think you've already come up with the best response to Craig Fischer:

"Asking whether a story is true is like asking how much a gift costs"

4 November 2008 12:47:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley said...

Someone came into Gosh yesterday and asked one of the boys if I actually existed or if I was a purely fictional character created purely for amusement value.

4 November 2008 3:22:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley said...

purely purely because I forgot me thesaurus.

4 November 2008 3:23:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Mark said...

Dear Mr. Campbell,

As a kid in high-school I bought every issue of Bacchus. I remember my consternation at your esteem for Bunny's sub-par cartoons. Your work is great, therefore your taste must be excellent. I stared and studied Bunny's work hoping to understand them. Eventually I gave up. You had a history with Wilson and it was clouding your judgement. Months passed and then Bunny was dead. I felt like a judgmental dick for being so harh.

I kept buying Bacchus but only reading your Alex stories, ignoring everything else, even the letters page. Just two years ago, when I went back to read the wonderful Bacchus story arch, I realized Bunny was fake. But not before I reappraised Bunny Wilson's stuff, believing I truly found what made them great. When I found out, I think my reaction was "You Bastard." For six years I struggled with the aesthetics of this thing.

I've been meaning to tell you I'm your biggest fool, I just didn't think you cared.

4 November 2008 11:52:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A really sick story! Those people pretending to be his close one's...Sick, Eddie! And I just love it, and all your stories about your very special comics world. Wonderful!
C

5 November 2008 3:46:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Stephen said...

Boy do I feel dumb now. Thanks a bunch, Eddie.

5 November 2008 1:18:00 pm GMT-5  
OpenID thickear said...

I am a TV comedy writer. A while back my writing partner and me created a fictional sketch writer and sent in some sketches to shows we were working on. They were the most poorly written and disturbing sketches you could possibly imagine. Writing them was a hundred times funnier than doing the real ones. We were never found out.

6 November 2008 8:01:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Studio B Media said...

Eddie,

I just finished reading "alec how to be an artist" I just wish I had read this 20 years ago. The last page (not the kid asking about what brush), but the one about getting it's getting late. That really hit home with me. I just hope it's not to late.

Really great stuff. I got an copy of "From Hell" signed by you while in San Diego one year. I hope to cross paths in Seattle some day and shake you hand again.

Brian Beardsley

9 November 2008 2:09:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

anon-the May gag made me laugh

Mark- might be the mood of the whole post, I'm half thinking your comment is a hoax.

Brian-thanks, much appreciated.

everybody else, thanks for the comments.

it's getting late

9 November 2008 3:49:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Mark said...

It's all very true. One of my friends had just been accepted into the Center for Cartoon Studies for their second year class, which inspired me to start reading comics again. In fact, I remember speaking with this friend at a bar about the positive qualities of Bunny Wilson, only to retract everything a few days later when I discovered he/it was a sham.

10 November 2008 9:16:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger James Langdell said...

Mark's reaction isn't far from my own while your hoax was unfolding. I assumed your esteem for an actual Bunny Wilson was based on your discovering a few lines and images from Bunny's work persisting in your mind for years, despite the apparent mediocre material. Unlike Mark, I didn't persist in trying to find a deeper value in Bunny's work than that.

I must say that the phrase "Aw, What's the Use?" became as frequent in my conversation as, "May nothing occur" has been for me in the past few months at work.

10 November 2008 11:56:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Yoga Gal said...

Hello Mr. Campbell you've been a little M.I.A. from your blog. Are you okay?

11 November 2008 5:44:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Geri,
thanks for asking. I have been feeling a lack of enthusiasm this week
on the other hand, I have been getting some proper work done.
Eddie

11 November 2008 5:48:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miss reading your words of wisdom and insight but pleased as punch to read that you're getting work done! I admire your great talent! Later- geri (yoga gal)

13 November 2008 12:31:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Marcelo Alencar said...

Dear Mr. CAMPBELL

Greetings from Brazil.
A few days ago I've made a terrible mistake, calling you "Mr. Chadwick" (this is because I've copied and pasted a text that Paul Chadwick helped me to write). I am really sorry for that.
Now I'm asking you to sign my Famous Comic Book Creators card featuring you. If you agree, please let me know if there is any charge, and to wich address I can send the card.
Thanks for your attention, and best wishes

Marcelo Alencar
marceloalencar66@gmail.com
jakutinga@uol.com.br

13 November 2008 3:14:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger James Langdell said...

Marcelo's mistaking Campbell's name for Chadwick's made me realize that I'd happily pay to read hundreds of pages of a collaborative comic presenting nothing but Bacchus, Simpson, Collage, Concrete, Maureen, and Larry drinking and talking with each other.

14 November 2008 4:32:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

Hee hee. Good to see that Bunny didn't live in vain!

There's a big book by Gibbons on his work on Watchmen in that comic store at the moment. Looks good, might pick it up.

Need to buy another copy of Watchmen, too, for yet another has recently failed to return. I'd spend the money on that big monster hardcover (with the understanding that it's something I just *wouldn't* lend out), but there's no way I could afford it.

Hmm.. in 2011 it'll be the 20th anniversary of the first book of From Hell... come to think of it, it's the 10th anniversary of the finish of the thing this year. I wonder if a big spangly From Hell hardcover mightn't be a Good Idea...

15 November 2008 4:44:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

we started in '88 and finished in '98. we intended to do a 10/20 year special, with an added gull catchers2 appendix, but it didn't happen.

maybe later.

15 November 2008 5:20:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

How's about some blogging Eddie?
Pretty please with chocolate on top?

18 November 2008 6:48:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Marcelo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

19 November 2008 12:37:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Marcelo said...

Mr. Campbell?

19 November 2008 12:40:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Allan said...

Goodness, I always assumed he was rooted in fact but that the Bunny we knew was simply as distant from the living man as Henry Miller of his books is from whomever Mr. Miller really was. A beautiful distance, capturing the spirit more than the facts might, etc. Bunny was fun! Thank you, Eddie.

21 November 2008 2:38:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Marcus Moore said...

Eddie - still bummed about the Monty Zoomer piece. Shame it never saw the light of day. I don't even have the script anymore... [Minty]

22 November 2008 7:41:00 am GMT-5  

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