Sunday, 7 December 2008

chris Mclaren has posted seven photos of his recently obtained copy of the 'Painfully Limited' edition of From Hell and it's pleasing to see it again. This was the neatest trick I ever pulled off in my seven years as a self publisher.


The biggest problem I had when I came to publish From Hell was that I no longer had most of the art. I had sensibly presumed that the previous publisher, Kitchen Sink Press (KSP), would have known the value of the thing and looked after such matters. So I had been steadily selling off the art originals, but I didn't anticipate that the publisher and I would fall out. I was able to negotiate the rights back based on the fact that we were owed fifteen thousand dollars that wasn't forthcoming. Then the person who had wound up holding a lot of the physical materials after the collapse of the company was trying to SELL me the From Hell negatives. This was wrong in so many ways, so I set about reconstituting the entire book from the equal mix of available art plus the full size high quality xeroxes that I always took care to salt away before sending in each chapter. In fact we finished up with a better looking set of pages. The two chapters rendered with a lot of crayon and charcoal came out much better than in the KSP printings. But there remained the problem of what I was to send our foreign clients to reproduce from. The master pages, half art and half xerox and with a couple of weeks of cleaning and reworking, were too valuable to ever let out of my sight again. The solution I arrived at was to ask Graphitti Designs to overprint thirty copies for me when they made the signed and numbered limited hardcover, and to leave these unbound as bundles of loose pages. I would then send a couple of sets to each of my foreign licensees. This was a far from perfect process, but the From Hell art was all drawn before digital scanning was the norm. After a while it looked like that market had dried up and I took a notion to have the remaining nineteen copies bound and then sell them. When I first collected From Hell in one book it was an enormous undertaking and I went at it very cautiously. The five printings of the softcover under my own imprint were all made on the cheapest possible materials. I have occasionally regretted that, but the initial orders from Diamond Distribution were so low, less than six thousand of a book that would go on to sell over two hundred thousand (and rising) copies worldwide, that caution was only sensible. When I decided to bind these leftovers I thought that for once I should make a 'beautiful book,' an object lavish in every possible way. The binding job cost around $110 per unit. The binding is plush kangaroo leather, with the logo embossed in blood red; the book is placed snugly inside a black hard shell box, also embossed with the logo in red. Then I painted a different little image inside each copy. I offered it for either 300 or 350 bucks on the front page of the old Eddie Campbell Comics website and the whole lot sold out in less than a week.

Publishing books was an interesting adventure, but I don't think I could go through it all again.
Here's an earlier post about a whole different set of problems that arose when our printer went bankrupt in 2005.
Top shelf's subsequent second printing was essentially a new edition, being the first digital version of the work, and sporting a new painted cover.
Topshelf's Fourth printing now in stock. (ninth printing in all counting my five) And note that the production values of their editions are higher than those of mine.
And strictly for the anally retentive, I wrote out my notes on all the various editions up to the end of 2001 on the old website

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13 Comments:

Blogger Peeboo said...

Thanks for the link to the From Hell editions. I must say after reading the Taboo versions, it was a shock to try and open the KSP editions with that strange rippled binding. Was that the same on all the printings of just my copies??

7 December 2008 5:15:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

one issue was hopeless and it was the whole print run. The others were mostly alright.

7 December 2008 6:26:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

I was in the Shop of Comics on Friday, and noted that Top Shelf have released a nice new (I think) hardcover of FH for those of us who missed out on that nice leather-bound painfully-limited version and the Grafftitti one also.

7 December 2008 7:29:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous John C said...

I always used to ask comic artists who I saw selling off their pages what they'd do in the future if they wanted to reprint then found the print materials were missing. You're the only person I've come across who this has happened to although I'm sure there must be others.

That book looks gorgeous. I haven't checked but I think I have one of the rippled KSP copies.

7 December 2008 10:23:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger MarkSullivan said...

That's a really cool looking book; I'd encourage everyone to click through the link to see all the photos. You're right to be proud of it, Eddie. Shame you couldn't afford to keep one for yourself!

7 December 2008 2:08:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Chris McLaren said...

It's a damn fine book, and I'm proud to have laid my hands on one of them. Ever since I found out you made these, I've had my eyes out for one, but I never really thought I'd be able to actually be able to get one.

8 December 2008 12:43:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to get one of these from Eddie when it came out (got #3 with a painting of Alan in it- similar to one featured in Egomania), and I guess I'm not shocked that not a single copy has come up for sale on the secondary market since it was released.

Until Chris', that is. Folks who got one- keep 'em!

Be interested to know where you found one, just out of curiosity.

By the way, Eddie- any movement on a Gull Catchers 2? Or somekind of new Deluxe edition?

Ron Swintek

8 December 2008 1:01:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Alan talked about it in an interview last month, so who knows, it might be close.

8 December 2008 1:13:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Dave said...

I've got one. I could be persuaded to part with it, on the right offer.

8 December 2008 12:49:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous James A. Owen said...

Yeah, that's definitely one of the nicer books in my library. Since Chris showed us his Campbell painting from the book, I'll show you mine:

http://pics.livejournal.com/coppervale/pic/000xat37

8 December 2008 6:33:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher said...

I am also one of the original buyers, finally prodded into taking a picture of mine (8 of 19). The only original art I own that isn't made by my kids!

Thanks again Mr. Campbell (for the Gull Catchers news as well)

9 December 2008 1:13:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Sean Michael Wilson said...

Hi Eddie,

Was just talking with Paul Gravett about the 'Alan and Eddie' chat in Escape issue 5 (remember?). Was re-reading it over the last few days and marvelling at what an insightful and well worded consideration of the comics process it is.

BUT, was still confused about a few things (god knows what my 14 year old self thought of it when I first read it in 1984). Paul suggested, "Why don't you ask Eddie?" So here i am:

I noted this: "Eddie saying that he tries "to have each frame as an autonomous cartoon" stumped me. As his normal frames are NOT stand alone in their own right. They do show all the 'action'/characters, not cutting away to close ups as Alan notes... but they are not entirely seperate either, if we take the word 'autonomous' to mean not connected to others around it.

Big Al replies " I can see that."

- but not me!"

Any chance you can explain further. Putting aside that this is continuing a chat from 25 years ago!

Best,
Sean

19 January 2009 10:49:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Violet said...

Hello Mr. Campbell,

So, I borrowed my boyfriend's signed copy of From Hell, and I spilled coffee on it.

I know this is pretty outlandish, but is there any way I can get you to sign a fresh copy of this work?

thanks,
Heather

26 February 2009 12:20:00 pm GMT-5  

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