Tuesday, 11 August 2009

another episode of "It's funny how things turn out."

I've been scanning all the Bacchus artwork recently for the big collection in 2010 and particularly enjoyed revisiting the second volume, The Gods of Business (drawn 1987-88). The art on this one was by Ed Hillyer over my roughs, with the lettering and balloons placed by me in ink. They were alternately as rough as the one on the left (with Ed's finished version on the right):


And as vague as the one on the left (again with Ed's on the right):


(For a handy introduction to Bacchus, Rob Vollmar Posted his excellent Comics Journal Article in two parts (A, B) on his blog last year)

Ed Hillyer was the first small press guy after Paul Gravett, the Man at the Crossroads, to pop up in front of me when I started casting my eye around for fellow travelers in 1981. In typical Campbellian fashion, I think I began by biting his head off over some imagined slight. He had been introduced to my work by Paul at the office of Psst magazine, where Paul was working in a sub-editorial capacity, and where I had deposited some samples. The manager there had taken offense at some implied sexism in one of these samples. It sounds daft now, especially given some of the ugly crap the magazine went on to publish, which nobody remembers anyway, but women were trigger-happy about taking offense back then. Anyway, I didn't know about this until Ed jocularly referred to it in his letter, unwittingly getting me started. Writing letters was another thing we did back then.

Ed had an idea about being a small press publishing impresario and he put out a few ambitious anthology things before disappearing off to college and tending to his own talents instead of that of others, which I had encouraged him to do from day one. When Ed came out of college in 1986 he duly started putting out his own mini-comics and I quickly nabbed him to help me out with Bacchus, because I was the one now consumed with megalomaniacal ambitions. What I mean is that I was trying produce more comic books per month than I could actually write and draw myself and was looking to hire machines to do half the work for me (well, I thought of it more along the lines of putting a band together). Ed never liked filling this particular role as the thing he enjoyed most was, and is, page-design. I asked him to do all the art himself on the later volume 4, but I think he still felt constipated by the kind of stories I was telling. He wanted something more kinetic. He was one of the first guys to get into Manga way back in the day. Recently he applied his accumulated expertise to a book on the subject:


It has just come to my attention that Ed is now the author of a NOVEL. Actually I knew about this a long time back, (ten years?) when he directed me in obtaining xeroxes of an obscure 19th century manuscript in the National library of Australia. I just never thought the finished book would ever come to be. It will be titled The Clay Dreaming
Set during the first Australian cricket tour of England in 1868, this magnificent d├ębut novel explores an extraordinary friendship between King Cole, one of the Aboriginal players, and Sarah Larkin, a bookish spinster living in London.
And it will be published in April 2010 by Myriad Editions of Brighton, UK:
We're involved in the challenging but thoroughly enjoyable process of editing The Clay Dreaming. This is a hugely ambitious novel set around the time of the Australian Aboriginal cricket team's historical visit to London 1868. It explores an extraordinary friendship between one of the cricketers and a bookish young English woman and their mission to uncover the mysteries of his ancestry. Different story lines, original documentation and various texts within texts mean that Vicky Blunden, Myriad's fiction editor, and the author Ed Hillyer have a hard task to cut down the manuscript from over 1,000 pages to a more manageable 700 or so.
While looking for an online photo of Ed I found this great one by Andy Konky Kru on his own site, and I hope he'll forgive me for borrowing it. This is Ed (left) with Paul Gravett. I always felt Paul had disappeared into the woodwork when he was managing the Cartoon Art Trust 1992-2001, I mean it's a job worth doing but in the sense of 'oh well, somebody's got to do it.' It's been good to see a string of big books come out under his authorship and editorship over the last four or five years.


The photo is from a set taken at 'The UK Web and Mini Comix Thing' 2006, which looks like a very good annual event. Perusing Andy's great photos taken there I found myself transported back to 1981 when we started the whole xeroxed minicomics thing, Paul, Ed, myself, Phil Elliott and the rest.

Still, you'd think by now we'd all have proper jobs in real estate or banking. It's funny how things turn out.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to read about Ilya and the fact he has a novel coming out, I shall look forwards to that. His Skidmarks is for me one of the greats. I think he did something for the BBC website a while back too? It's nice seeing the evolution from rough to finished art. While you're digging up the old stuff, is your Lucifer strip ever going to come back into the light of day? I don't think I ever got the whole story at the time.

Steve Block

11 August 2009 1:51:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

"His skidmarks.."

I chortle.

11 August 2009 3:29:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Dave Shelton said...

Isn't it Myriad Editions of Brighton (rather than London)?

11 August 2009 4:09:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks Dave. I fixed it.

11 August 2009 5:01:00 pm GMT-5  

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