Friday, 8 July 2011

It's not every day you get a Scotsman
to share all of
his knowledge
on the subject

* M * O * N * E * Y *.

We usually like to keep it all to ourselves.


It possible to make money out of comics?

The subject is money. As explained with no authority whatsoever by a man who draws pictures for a living. Featuring unpublished illustrations, histrionics, humorous asides and totally useless information, including how Campbell became incorporated just so he could write and draw Batman, and what went wrong with that; how his accountant goes to work in a sarong and bare feet because he fancies himself as an artist. As well as Campbell's weeklong visit to the mysterious tropical island of Yap, to get the inside story of the ancient stone money for his next book.
Venue: Studio
Dates: Sun 21 Aug
Time: 12pm
Register Now!

Other guests include the immortal Robert Crumb
and also Jim Woodring, Peter Kuper and Scott McCloud.

Hayley campbel''s funniest piece ever, just posted
In which you'll excuse my ebonics.

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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Spaniard addendum

An interesting grace note to the blathering argument of the graphical novel is the fact that in the 1960s in Spain, La Novela Gráfica was a term used as a label on a type of comic of digest-size, such as this title aimed at a female audience (November 1960).

There's a lot of blather about the term being pretentious in its being a composite of a literary and an Art reference, but here it is, 4 years before it is said to have been invented in 1964 (insofar as the Spanish is a relative of the American), on a fairly commercial product. Knowing this kind of magazine, I would imagine the interior would be somewhat less attractive than that very nice cover, which does show how good the best of those commercial ink illustrators were back then.

Picture from the blog of Pepo Perez, an artist of merit, whose blog I have referenced a few times over the last week. His drawing has a fresh spontaneity that appeals to me very much. Here he is in collaboration with writer Santiago Garcia in an immediate response to the subject of the political protests in Spain in May.

It was translated into several languages; whole thing is in English here.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Spaniard in the Works (part 6)

When we argue about the naming of a thing or a person, what we're really talking about is our releationship to it. The same person can be 'mother' and 'daughter' to different people, or 'friend' and 'enemy'. It all depends where you're standing.

A new book that came out six months ago from Artist Paco Roca, El invierno del dibujante, (The winter of the cartoonist) is a world class piece of work. I only say it that way because his other major works appeared first in France but he chose to launch this one in Spain. This is not an oddity these days. All of my own books are published in countries other than the one I live in. And in the past the Spanish artist has often had to look abroad for his bread and butter. I was enjoying the work of Spanish comics artists long before I ever knew it. Accomplished draftsmen in formidable quantities were filling up the pages of English comics weeklies when I was a kid, beginning with Jesus Blasco drawing The Steel Claw in 1962. Their names and details still remain largely a mystery to me. Blasco's wikipedia entry ends with: "His work is relatively unknown in the United States, with his main exposure being three appearances in Warren Publishing's Creepy, which were all miscredited to other artists."

There's a great blog here by Manuel Deskartes devoted to showing the work of all those hard working guys of whom so little is known. In Deskartes archives I found a page of Stingray by Sebastian Boada that I could well have enjoyed as the title was a favourite of mine in the early 1960s. I'm sure there would have been an economic element in this favouring of Spanish talent, a way of doing things more cheaply, because I know publishers too well. But that's not to diminish the level of that talent. And there's a whole world of facts and details here that I would be happy to learn about. This is where Manuel Barrero could tell me a thing or two thousand.

But whereas in the 1960s the artist became an anonymous cog in another country's machine, Paco travels as an author. He gives interviews and talks about his themes and ideas. Entrecomics transcribed the dialogue from a Panel on the graphic novel at the Spanish convention Getxo and posted it on Dec 22 2010. Here Paco explained that for him the idea of the graphic novel was about freedom, from format, from genre, from continuing characters. It's a new era of comics, he said, in which the subject can be anything. Seeing it as a 'liberation' may be a particularly Spanish angle on la novela gráfica, but he is obviously talking about the same thing as I am.

He's also talking about it in his book. It is set in 1957 and is about a coterie of cartoonists, persons who actually lived and whose work Paco grew up reading. They attempt to extricate themselves from the oppression of an industrial system that was crushing the potential of their work. It's set in the time of Franco's regime and there is undoubtedly a lot happening on different levels. I don't yet have this prize winning book to discuss in detail, having read it under hurried circumstances while in Spain, but It fits with a few points I want to make.

I love Roca's sense of place and time. The whole story is here. The city, the grey atmosphere of winter, the little boy looking longingly at the comics hanging from the rack at the kiosk. Ahead of the men is the optimistic note of the two cheerful girls at far left, behind them the alert authority of a police officer.

If this impeccably composed wraparound cover was all that existed of this project, it would already be a masterpiece in my mind.

I think this is a promotional poster of the same ensemble from a different angle.

And until some publisher does us the favour of an English language version, I'm presuming that kid in the background is being scolded because he won't get his nose out of the comic so he doesn't walk into the traffic. (if there is more to it I'm sure someone will shortly inform me)

And here is the editor, censoring with his red pen.

Roca's book is an intelligent and well wrought 'novela gráfica', but in my enjoyment of the vividness of his pictures just now, I find myself thinking about one of the problems of the graphic novel environment. With the increasing recognition of the form as a literature, with its official entrance into 'Literary Studies', we have seen a critical tendency to talk about the books more exclusively in terms of their structure and intelligence as narrative texts, as 'reading' (or at the lowest level just as a story). I often see valuable things being overlooked. Do our critical writers still enjoy pictures for their own sake as they certainly did in the old days I spoke about at the top? Then they could recognise one artist from another and mentally separate them from the childish nonsense these artists usually had to work with. I'm not saying we should all traipse back there, just that we should think for a moment about that and whatever else may have been traded away.

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Monday, 4 July 2011

For anybody who was too busy thinking about what underpants to wear tomorrow, here is what has happened. I have removed what was originally here. But I'm not going to delete another post in an attempt to erase history, even if it is only the history of baloney, so I have to leave a marker.

casualties of war:

May 17 post at Zona Negativa- deleted with all 70 commentarios.

Posts at Entrecomics of 29 and 30 June, 1 and 2 July sunk with all who railed in them.

post at Eddie Campbell of June 30 missing in action, of July 2 killed in battle.

this post converted to a memorial.

If anybody ever asks me to explain it all, I would not know where to start.


Sunday, 3 July 2011

A link and an open letter to The Spaniard in the works.

Argentina's national daily LA NACION, 1st July, has a huge 3,680 word (counting them has become a disturbing trend here at Campbell blogspot.) article on The graphic novel. La edad adulta del cómic (link thanks to Loris Z)

There's nothing here that we haven't heard before, but let's bookmark the event as an indication of the growing international recognition of this movement. And Campbell's manifesto is quoted in two places.

To Jose Torralba,

You keep going back to the so-called manifesto. You know, when I wrote that I did it for a specific purpose. When one or two places asked if they could use it, i said certainly, but please explain in a short paragraph when and why it originated. That is, I wrote it as part of a thread on the old Comics Journal site. There was a big article in The NY Times weekend magazine. Spiegelman, Clowes, Brown, Seth, Tomine were all interviewed and photographed. Everybody was complaining that the article had got it all wrong. I said, they got it wrong because as a community we constantly give out confused information. We send the signal that arguing about the meanings of the words is important, that we can't all agree on what it is we're supposed to be about. We're stuck with 'graphic novel'. Instead of sneering, put it on the flag and get behind it. So why don't we all agree to a set of principles. They won't be absolutes, they're simply a guide to stop arguments so that we can all move forward in the same direction and promote the thing we're all involved in. Thus, we say 'novel' but we don't necessarily mean that in the sense that it's understood in the book world. You fastened upon my criticism of Manuel Barrero, but he was in a situation where he was addressing people in or more familiar with the book world than the comics world: He quoted my manifesto but he was doing the very thing the manifesto was written to head off. He was arguing about the words. 'Perversion of a publishing label'- he insists I left out the word 'genre' in that title, but that's just another one of those words that makes comics into a hillbilly town on the map of culture. My metaphor misfired there, because he took it personally. In a better world I might have had the foresight to think that he could actually be from the provinces, but in these internet driven times, everybody is just online in a great equality. It certainly wasn't meant personally except in the sense that it was he who wrote the words I was criticizing.

But, you know, hey! If you and Manuel want to say it's a publishing label, you never heard any complaint from me. I was just saying that's not what Eisner had in mind. Go for it. Enjoy yourselves. Who said you couldn't? I didn't. Eisner didn't. Nobody owns individual words exclusively. (unless they're trademarks of course) Just for god's sake stop arguing about it.

The manifesto wound up being reproduced and posted all over the place and in several languages. I quite liked the way Santiago used it because he understood the spirit of it. He has a paragraph about Toeppfer not wanting to be seen to take his concept too seriously, and he shows Campbell likewise. The introductory paragraph is generally no longer attached, and it's a document I no longer have any control of (I once deleted it from Wikipedia, but that couldn't suppress it) so I expect when you first saw it you took it at its word as being a manifesto. When you took the so-called manifesto and pissed all over it, with your ten-part satire, it probably never occurred to you, as it may not have done to Manuel, that I might one day see it. But that's all right. You had a sense of humour then. Today you have left it in your other suit.

Now I wait to see whether you will also piss all over my olive branch.

Eddie Campbell