Thursday 30 November 2006

eddie campbell's pal, mr j

At Journalista yesterday Dirk showed a four panel caricature of me by my pal mr j, which he lifted from Hayley Campbell's blog, where you will find other examples of his brilliance. And if you scroll down to her oct 30 post you'll see a cut-and-paste of page 45's (the best comic shop in England) review of mr j's 40 page minicomic Hayley Campbell Funnies.
About ten years back I invented a fake cartoonist named Bunny Wilson as a wheeze for something to put on the back of my Bacchus#3. Over the next few years Bunny kept popping up and plays a key role in King Bacchus. Every time I showed an example of his work I got mr j to 'ghost' it. I calculated that mr j's style would be unknown to my readers since his appearances have been confined in the US so far to caricatures in wrestling magazines. The most impressive stroke was this fake cover on the back of Bacchus #58 , of a character invented by j for this purpose:
The only known published photo of mr j occurs in another hoax: the Eddie Campbell All-stars soccer team, a photo of which is on the back cover of Bacchus #14 and the inside back of After the Snooter.
(You may have read the first part of this in my Comics journal interview) My pal, and occasional collaborator, Daren White was an accountant at Coca Cola and played in their soccer eleven at that time. One weekend when it was his turn to wash the team jerseys we rounded up eleven guys for a hoax photo, which I then cut and pasted against another photo, of the crowd at Wembley. White had already washed the shirts and now had to wash them a second time. When Sim caricatured me in a sequence in his Guys, he has me wearing the soccer gear for some reason known only to himself (I only ever had it on for half an hour). At the same time I was drawing him in Bacchus (riffing on Sim's use of the 'injury to eye motif' in his own Cerebus.) Around this time I wrote to the Cerebus letters page under the name of Bunny Wilson saying something like "If you lot stopped pulling each others plonkers you'd sell a lot more comic books," but Sim never printed it.
However, as to mr j, you won't learn a whole lot about him from the soccer photo as he is the player wearing a wrestling mask at far right.
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To Gabriel Villa and Hemlockman: your interest in a complete Bacchus is noted. meanwhile here is something you may not have seen before. I'd forgotten about this until I pulled out the box of old Bacchus to scan a couple of things shown above . It's a cover I made specially for the Spanish edition of Bacchus vol 2: the Gods Of Business
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The covers on these rereleases of the works of Will Eisner look very tasty, but a new didactic work on 'expressive anatomy' causes me to grimace. The histrionics of his figure drawing always made him appear old fashioned. Will a new generation be picking up the habits?
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Hi to Matt, Nathalie, Ryan, Tim , Bissette!!, and other commenters. And to David Cake, Lucy and anyone else who noted technical difficulties, my pal Breach has been tinkering around fixing things. So hopefully it'll be smooth running until the next time. What would Eddie Campbell do without his pals, I asks ya.

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Blogger drjon said...

I'd forgot what a bloody brilliant piece of work that Monty Zoomer cover was, you know. Just reeks of authenticity.

By chance, I was thinking about it just the other day an all. In a cafe in West End, strangely enough.

As I think I mentioned to you, I was in the Victorian State Library's comics exhibit recently. I was going to start kicking up a fuss that Bunny Wilson wasn't represented, but it would prolly have got as much reaction as when I did the same at a display of cartoon artists in the QLD State Library a few years ago (ie, bugger all), so I didn't.


30 November 2006 at 09:13:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Hawthorn said...

I kind of like the hardcover collected editions of Eisner that came out a couple years ago better, slaving to my desire to "complete works" books. These new ones are a bit eye-catching though, ain't they?

30 November 2006 at 14:04:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree on Will Eisner's anatomy - it pegs him directly to the time he was up and coming, in the War-era elastic art style.

I mostly see that style living on in 2d traditional character animation, where the principles laid down by the guys at Disney and Warner Brothers from that time are still taught.

And that histrionic style still works great for a lot of animation projects, at least in children's and humorous stuff, but in "serious" comics feels sort of Vaudevillian.

I can see how Will Eisner's style could be useful if taken with a few grains of salt, though.

I see enough comics art that's so stiff or so obviously photo-referenced that it might do some good to have a book around telling people that it's okay to use some of the cartoony aspects of, you know, CARTOONS, to add life to characters.

30 November 2006 at 14:14:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Good on ya, jon.

and point taken, Dylan, about usefulness of Eisner in loosening up some of that stiffness we see out there. Was looking at christopher hart's (?right name) book on drawing comic book women, where he says don't be afraid to stretch the head-body size ratio as normal proportioned women tend to look dumpy... (i didn't write it down at the time, excuse if quote slightly innaccurate) and then filled the rest of his book with the ugliest figure drawing i've ever seen. Poor kids reading that crap...

30 November 2006 at 15:40:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Juan Royo Abenia said...

Eddie: congratulations for your blog and your comics!!!. I,m a teacher of the University of Zaragoza (Spain), member of Malavida, a group of comic fans and we are organizers of the Zaragoza Comic Festival. You can link about it in or in my own blog And you can also link in for a virtual tout in our city!! Nowadays in our festival only are spanish artists but que are thinking for the next year the posibility came an international comic star (like you for example!!). We,d like to send an e-mail and explain our ideas!! thank you very much!!

30 November 2006 at 17:40:00 GMT-5  
Blogger desembrey said...

Sure Eisner's surface cartoon style can be seen as dating his work in the 40's and 50's, but look at The Will Eisner Sketchbook volume (I'm sure you have it Eddie - or at least pages from it in some alternate order ;-) heh) and the underlying pencil work is just brilliant and easily superior to almost any of the artists of the present. Burne Hogarth's "Dynamic" art instruction books are all over the shelves these days, often hidden amongst the plague of "How to Draw Manga" texts, and Hogarth's style has aged worse than Eisner's. I'll take Bridgeman's book over Hogarth's of course.

We live in a time where people are seemingly obsessed with the surface image and not very much interested in what is underneath it at all. How many Alex Ross imitators are there who copy the surface look but miss the strength of the drawing beneath. But Ross' pencils are superior to his finished works which are by comparison overly laboured upon.

At the heart of it I'm convinced more as years pass that the truly great comic illustrators are the ones who are at heart cartoony. Kurtzman, Feiffer. Sprang. Kirby. Toth.

Personally I would have loved to have seen a book by Eisner on lettering, since he was one of my favourite letterers, along with Sim, Toth, Donna Barr, and your good self Eddie (I'd bought one of your books the week before we first met purely for the lettering - true story!)

1 December 2006 at 07:17:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Gabriel Villa said...

If only it was written in Portuguese...

1 December 2006 at 15:34:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

to des (old pals turning up everywhere), Dylan..your Eisner points are noted.
Eisner's always been a great favorite of mine and I wouldn't want hime to have drawn any other way. it's what he was all about. but he lived too long for there to be any real connection between his style and life in 2006, except insofar as we love the oldies. I even thought his stuff looked out of place when he started putting all the drugs in it way back in 1973

1 December 2006 at 21:08:00 GMT-5  

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