Saturday 23 December 2006

Alan Moore's London. part 3

Being a kind of "Director's commentary" on the book FROM HELL
In the photo with Alan Moore is fellow writer Steve Moore ('no relation' has become an obligatory phrase). They're at Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames.

Steve Stamatiadis was working with me on this chapter. That's why there's a sharper trim on the details in these panels than you would normally expect from Campbell. Steve was fast and accurate at getting photographic reference onto the page. But the Needle sequence illustrates a problem I had to resolve. These monuments have been well photgraphed over the years and with something like the Needle, it's impossible to get a variety of angles on it unless you've brought your own ladder. So the danger is that the pictures can end up looking like school textbook views of London.

One thing I did to create contrast was to render the passing views in a appropriately fleeting way. That is, a volume of detail halts the eye, so apply that when Gull is stationary (and the script does demand that we hold the reader at these geographical points to ponder). Then work more sketchily while the carriage is in motion. So, the page that ends with your eye riveted upon the sharply outlined sphinx begins with these:

The photo above is the source of panel 1

...and the photo below is the source for panel 2. These are laid down so roughly that you may not have thought they were based on photos at all.

That kind of variation in information density, it can also be said, is a useful strategy in the composition of a long range work. Photos, furthermore, should be used to give authority to the work. If you follow them too slavishly you risk giving the authority to someone else.
That's Alan again in the right middle ground of the lower photo. And with him I think is Jamie Delano. More about him tomorrow.



Blogger Leigh Walton said...

Thanks for doing this series, Eddie. It's a joy to read.

You continue to refer to your assistants in these posts, and I'm curious to hear more about what your process was like working with them. Maybe a topic for a future post in itself?

I assume the lettering is all you. Did you have assts do pencil work which you then inked over to give it the Campbell touch? Or am I right in thinking that both you and assts worked straight in ink? Do you by chance have copies of pages in various stages of completion, so that we can see who did what?

The assistant system is apparently totally standard in Japan but uncommon over here (or at least not talked about loudly) -- especially in indie/art comics. As much as I value the "singular creative vision," as a reader I would gladly sacrifice a bit of that ideological integrity for enhanced output. Chris Ware isn't likely to let anyone touch his work, but some other brilliant and slow creators could potentially produce 1.5x as many books over their career with the proper assistance -- who would say no to more Jason Lutes or Eric Shanower or Scott McCloud?

I'd at least like to hear a discussion about it, y'know?

23 December 2006 at 05:54:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Ãlvaro said...

Thank you for co-making one of the finest pieces of art I've ever read.

23 December 2006 at 07:26:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing these personal thoughts.

The entire sequence of the cab ride with Gull's monologue actually made me nauseous. Not unlike the reaction of the formerly clueless cabbie.

23 December 2006 at 11:39:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

I'll give some more info on the busines sof 'assisting' in the next session.
thanks to evrybody else, and a merry christmas to you all


24 December 2006 at 00:23:00 GMT-5  

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