Monday 4 December 2006

Pass the baton, dear.

Mark Siegel at First Second is the first to link to Sunday's NY Times article by David Hadju, reviewing the Ivan Brunetti edited Graphic Fiction. Hadju wants to boost comics to some level of cultural import. So far so good. That's all very routine to our way of thinking.
But I'm much more interested in this aspect of the situation. Hadju quotes Time book critic Lev Grossman's article of July 10, 'Who's the voice of this generation?." Grossman describes a century of literary baton-passing (as this theory of artistic historiography has been described elsewhere), from Fitzgerald to Hemingway to Salinger to Kerouac to Heller to Vonnegut to McInerney to Ellis, but laments that the baton seems to have got dropped and lost around sixteen years ago. Hadju says he's looking for it in the wrong place. But this model of artistic development, this passing of some kind of legacy, is regarded with suspicion in our postmodern environment, and for that matter I think the notion of looking for it in any one place is also to be seriously questioned.
The interest for me lies in certain similarities to an article by Barry Gewen in the NY Times of dec 11 2005: The State of Art, in which he examines six books of Art criticism which all appear to have arrived at the conclusion that art is in a serious crisis: "One critic stands at the center of this "worldwide crisis." Clement Greenberg sensed there was an anything-goes problem long before it had reached the stage of decapitated chickens..."
What I love about it all is the spectacle of intelligent critics in a state of terminal bewilderment. Somebody has palmed the baton! It makes me Laff.
* * *
Andrew wrote in yesterday's comments: "One set of panels I would love you to post? I read somewhere once that there was a page in the script of From Hell which had Gull and Netley driving over London Bridge, which hadn't been built at the time, so you sketched the page anyway essentially with Gull stopping mid-sentence to scream as his carriage hurtled into the Thames. I think I read that somewhere. Does that exist?"
That would have been Tower Bridge. It was built in late Victorian times, but styled to chime with the medieval architecture of the Tower of London itself. Thus many sightseers don't realise it is in fact just over one century old. But of course they didn't have the means to make a big mechanical rising bridge like that away back in the middle ages, so obviously it must be relatively recent. What happened: I didn't draw the script as written but sent Gull down to the next bridge and just stretched the dialogue over more panels than Alan intended. In the meantime I scribbled a gag on a photocopy of a 19th century photo of the bridge under construction and sent it to Alan, so I no longer have it. However, for an article in the final issue of Bacchus (#60) I made a new version of the same thing, more or less identical. I no longer have that either, but here it is scanned from the article: (click to enlarge) I haven't looked at the big bulging box of photo reference for From Hell in a long time, but I'm sure there are many more treasures contained therein, including Alan standing in front of some of the London monuments for which he sent pictures. If enough people ask I could go root around in there and see what I find. Would make interesting posting on slow news days.
* * *
mr j thinks I made him look 'obsessive compulsive' (yesterday's comments) so I'll remind you that he's also brilliant. Here's a recent strip.(click to enlarge) Readers of Angry Cook in The Fate of the Artist are anticipating the possiblity that one day Hayley Campbell may notice that the other great beauties of history inspired poetry, while she has tended to inspire comic strips.

HA! just in my inbox:
Dave Gibbons has left a new comment on your post Old block off the chip: "Met Hayley in the pub on Saturday. Much was spoken of. Forgot to mention the dishwashing rota, though..."

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Blogger spacedlaw said...

Mister J is indeed brilliant...
He should show more of his stuff.

Please, kindly go into you From Hell archive and see if you cannot treat us with yet more jewels...


4 December 2006 at 07:34:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

Not only is Mr J brilliant, he looks great in a mexican wrestling mask.

4 December 2006 at 08:14:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang on, so Mr J isn't some reverse-Alec style nom de guerre for Hayley herself but is in fact someone called Jason?

When I saw the strips on Hayley's blog I thought it must be her.

Ben Smith

4 December 2006 at 09:03:00 GMT-5  
Blogger retromancy said...

Mr J obsessive compulsive? - never (that's not why he uses all those teeny tiny crosshatchings....)

4 December 2006 at 10:20:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Hawthorn said...

I'm so happy that picture exists. Thanks!

And yes, more please.

4 December 2006 at 12:55:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another vote for rooting around in the Big Box of References. All of this is great stuff. Love the J cartoons. And a new DeeVee! Yaay!

Happy week,
Pam N.

4 December 2006 at 16:33:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Kimota94 aka Matt aka AgileMan said...

Definitely voting for any goodies you feel you'd like to share with, Eddie!

Your mention of Tower Bridge reminds me something I heard on our last trip there (May 2004). We (wife, daughter & I) took one of those double decker tour buses with the fellow on the microphone as you whiz around parts of the city. I'd been there before, but had never done that, but the sixteen year old daughter thought it sounded like great fun, so off we went.

Anyway, as we were crossing over Tower Bridge, our guide told the story of the American (sorry, don't remember the details more than that) who paid some ridiculous sum to buy London Bridge and have it transported to whatever part of the U. S. of A. he hailed from. But, the story goes, he'd actually been picturing Tower Bridge (a quite lovely structure), not London Bridge (which, I hear, wasn't much to look at) and so imagine his disappointment when he discovered his mistake ("Damn thos English and their tricky names of bridges!!").

So, true story or tourist-oriented bullshit? And yes, I know I could probably research this story myself easily enough on the World Wide Weeb, but then I wouldn't get to chat with you! :-)

4 December 2006 at 18:33:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Garen said...

I think the old London Bridge is in Arizona, or New Mexico, or somewhere suitably deserty. A favourite Londoner's tale (and true).

Enjoying your ramblings, Eddie! And another vote for unseen From Hell, or even ref photos.

4 December 2006 at 20:07:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

Who speaks? Wrong question.

Who cares?

4 December 2006 at 22:57:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering - how do your wife and kids feel about the way they're portrayed in your stories?

5 December 2006 at 02:39:00 GMT-5  
Blogger mrjslack said...

Yesterday, I came across as obsessive compulsive, today I come across as a support character in Eddie Campbell's sitcom...
A George Costanza to his Jerry Seinfeld, and Hayley Campbell's
( substantially less racist, and somewhat less potty-mouthed ) Cosmo Kramer.
I think I like this better.

And whilst I'm not entirely sure that "brilliant" is the best way to describe myself, I DO look great in a Mexican wrestling mask.

I too put my hand up for unseen photos, illos and the like.

mister J.

5 December 2006 at 02:46:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks for the bridge stories, and Andrew, Nathalie , matt, garen, pam, etc... looks like i'll have to get that box down from the attic and see what lies within...

And I see mr j has answered on his own account... but surely hayley would be Elaine... no?

And Rob... I thought about you whilke rereading The Barry Gewen piece as he considered Danto at length.

best to all

5 December 2006 at 04:42:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

hi to Tonia!

and to anon, I do believe I have a happy family here at Castle Campbell and all my foolishness is indulged at length and enjoyed more often than not

and Hemlockman, you've been drinking with some of my pals, haven't you.


5 December 2006 at 04:45:00 GMT-5  
Blogger mrjslack said...

I kind of assumed that Anne was Elaine...

And with Hayley Campbell's hair, height, and knack of making an entrance... Well, I stand by my Kramer estimations...

mister J.

5 December 2006 at 05:37:00 GMT-5  
Blogger desembrey said...

So the Mr J Xmas card will feature a custom photo this year in that case? Oh my.

7 December 2006 at 05:44:00 GMT-5  

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