Wednesday 13 December 2006

The Ripper Files. part 1.

And it's not about what you think it's going to be about. If Hayley Campbell should ever end up going bad, god forbid, then the revelations I am about to lay before you may come to be entered as exhibit A at the trial. But what was I to do? In my defence I urge you to consider (your honour), that I was a 'house-husband' at home with a wee'un, and just given my big break, the task of illustrating the heinous doings of Jack the Ripper. Should I have closed myself away in a private part of our very small apartment, leaving the child to fend for herself in the daily round?
(that first panel is from Dance of the Gull-Catchers.),

The child had shown her talents quite early. During a visit from my old friend Daniel Grey esq. the child sought to emulate the attractive illustrations upon his arms, by copying in blue inks upon her own arms the hearts and roses, the proclamations of love and other mementoes. The wife, on returning from her day of drudgery and finding the two men full of alcoholic beverages, charged the errant husband with having drawn upon the child for his own misguided amusement. "I don't like you drawing on Hayley while I'm at work!" were the specifics of her accusation. And I narrate this epidsode in order to show the level of ability in the child's work, that it should have passed so easily for that of the father.
It was away back in 1989 that I drew this next picture of wee Hayley Campbell and me. When she was about four she had her own drawing table, an upended cardboard box, set up next to mine. And now that I look at the first panel again I notice my phone is sitting on a cardboard box too; for a wardrobe we used the big box the fridge came in, with a length of curtain-rod shoved through holes cut near the upper edges. The table probably came from Anne's brother. That second panel appeared in the last page Of The Dead Muse, which is long out of print. Not wanting the thought to be lost to posterity (the words spoken in the cartoon remain the subject's signing-off phrase before retiring to bed every night; indeed she tells me that she used it in London recently, resulting in the immediate bafflement of those present), I drew it again in After the Snooter in 2002. The composition is much better this time. Perhaps all those years of intense drawing yielded some improvements in my ability, though I'm more inclined to think that I had lost my way during the period of 'The Dead Mouse", as Hayley Campbell tended to call it, (that book took the form of an anthology in which I narrated my own story and at the same time introduced the work of other artists whose paths crossed mine, so it would be somewhat difficult to ever revive it outside of my own pages for their interest as odd and disconnected pieces of Campbelliana.)
Now, readers of yesterday's post will remember that I was rummaging in the attic, which is where I once more became acquainted with the documents wich have come to be known as 'the Ripper Files'. The pages of this artefact were drawn by the aforesaid Hayley Campbell shortly after her seventh birthday, which date has been deduced from external evidence, the excuse for their fashioning being the a gift set of colour markers. I will call a recess until tomorrow, at which time any of the ladies and gentlemen present who have no stomach for viewing a catalogue of all the possible ways of dying, seen from the point of view of a seven year old, will be permitted to absent themselves.
* * *
To anyone who bagged a sketch from previous posts; I've mailed everything out, hopefully in time for Christmas. And none of the sketches in this post are up for grabs as they're all part of archived art pages.
* * *
Just in. The December issue of the online magazine Dystopia has five pages on From Hell and ripperology, with a couple of my old color covers for those who may not have seen them before.



Blogger Alex said...

wowo... i'm really learning a lot from your suggestions...

13 December 2006 at 06:10:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Alex said...

... that being the link to Dystopia magazine, which I didn't know beforehand.

On the other hand I really love this little day-by-day tiny stories mixed with its artistic consequences. Thanks!

And more thanks... sketch arriving on Christmas... a GREAT, unexpected present. Thanks again!

13 December 2006 at 06:16:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

I think "someone" is going to be both very unhappy and utterly unsurprised at that photo...


13 December 2006 at 06:17:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eddie,
I'm enjoying your blog, keep it up! :) Sad to have missed out on all the original artwork so far, but at least I have a first-ECC-edition of From Hell with a cello in the front of it for me!

Meanwhile, I thought you'd be interested that there's a new Gull and he's up to his neck in it again:

13 December 2006 at 07:37:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

The Ripper is back, you're right. Everyone in London has been carrying around newspapers with the word RIPPER across the front. It's very very strange.

And incidentally, in future when people ask 'what's it like to have a dad who--' I'll produce a printed version of The Ripper File as an explanation. Probably from my coat pocket with a flourish! Yes, I think I will... Then watch as they smile meekly and back away.

13 December 2006 at 08:45:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me an ingrate, but I prefer the first version of the scene. It's less technically well drawn but I think has a more spontaneous feel to it, as if it was taken from a diary.

And hey to Hayley, I have nightmares about my child one day interacting in some of -my- net communities!

13 December 2006 at 12:41:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So whatever will you write about for your next comic? What subject will remain unexhausted? Fiction perhaps?

It seems as though you've taken your own autobiographical ephemera and made it just a little less entertaining by reducing it to blog form, where it's now just a little more distinguished (for being better written) than the autobiographical ephemera of innumerable other bloggers.

Though I am digging the daily dose, I still have to say, I miss the comics. And both the blog and your other two recent works are more than just self-referential---they center primarily around the creation of old works. They're about being about making somethings, while I suppose I'd prefer you sprinkle in a few stories about actual somethings, or at least, doings outside of the creation of comics. I miss the days when you could turn a trip to the mailbox into an engaging anecdote. But maybe that's a trick that's oulived its novelty.

So perhaps the next thing to do is to focus on the lives of other compelling persons. There was a hint of this in Fate of The Artist. From Hell doesn't count because that was a collaboration which forced you outside of yourself, so without Alan Moore's help, that ammount of objectivity might be hard for you to achieve.

Also, your version of Batman was pretty satisfying. Maybe more of that sort of thing.

13 December 2006 at 12:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks, all. Hayley has already answered drjon.
As though I would do anything to cause Hayley Campbell embarrassment. Shame on you.

As for Jed's concerns...
I'm not doing anything here that I didn't used to do on my letters pages and in the critical articles i've always written, whether for my old website, or the Comics Journal, or in my forays into forum disputes. Other than that, I have to make my way through all the options, making a living out of it as i have learned to do. there isn't a day when i am not working on a comics page for a book of my own authorship (more or less) and the fact that these works tend to appear on annual basis may give the impression that there is nothing doing here at Castle Campbell. On the other hand, if a reader just doesn't like the work any more, I don't know what can be done about that. the only honest thing is to draw the book that I see in my head. I cannot draw the book that is in your head. And if you do not like the new one as much as the first one, well that is the story of life i suppose. Eveything goes from great to paltry, as Bacchus once said.
But for now, I have a big new 140 page book coming out soon. I'm treading water here in my blog until I have a copy in my hand and then i shall start talking about it. I am 30 pages into a new book and I start talking about that one before the one before it we shall all get confused.

13 December 2006 at 16:06:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

alison made a comment under dec. 10 and I responded to it there. can you email her and let her know
(to anyone kibitzing, this pair live together)

13 December 2006 at 16:20:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...


point accepted about the first of the two panels. ther'e something a 'professional' look about the second one
but let me put it another way.

The artist of the first one would not have been capable of managing the structural complexity of After the Snooter.

'every advance involves a loss'


13 December 2006 at 17:25:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't say I didn't care for your last two books. I liked How to be an Artist a great deal, and appreciated the way you tied in your own personal growth as an artist with a enlightenning glimpse of the premature birth of the graphic novel. The Fate of the Artist, on the other hand, had its moments, but seemed to be gazing squarely into the navel of the previous book. Formally, I think it was a valuable excercise. With that one it seemed like you were trying so many different approaches at once, sure that it would all converge into something meaningful, that when you finally got to your fourth wall pull the curtain back conclusion, it felt like you'd thoroughly lost the thread, and whatever this was meant to punctuate simply hadn't been articulated.

I don't think it was a failure so much as what could be a necessary formal experiment. You were attempting to explore new territory, which is a sincerely brave thing to do. If it wasn't entirely a success as a book, I don't think that your means of expression or purpose were at fault, and I would be glad to see a future book in a similar format.

I didn't think you'd given up making comics. I didn't even think keeping a blog was slowing you down. But I was curious what direction you were going in next, and how doing a daily blog might effect this, if at all, considering what a big part autobiography plays in your work. And I would never presume to suggest that you write a book to please me or any other real or imagined audience.

I did enjoy the conversational and anecdotal style of your letters pages from Bacchus, and it hadn't occured to me to make a parallel. For some reason my own predjudices about this new medium made me miss what was essentially a similar message.

But still, this predjudice is based on a real distaste for what can sometimes be a certain ammount of over self-exposure. Not that I have an aversion to the intimate, but unchecked graphomania in the wrong hands can sometimes lead to embarassing evidence. Sometimes sitting on something, considering it, editing it, and THEN releasing it to the world isn't such a bad idea. But as it is, and as I've said, thus far I've enjoyed my daily dose of Campbell, so this aversion isn't necessarily one I apply to everyone in equal measure.

14 December 2006 at 02:05:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I actually quoted that "Jackarippy" comment to my wife last time I read SNOOTER.

Too cute.

14 December 2006 at 14:02:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Jed wrote
"I don't think it was a failure so much as what could be a necessary formal experiment. You were attempting to explore new territory, which is a sincerely brave thing to do. If it wasn't entirely a success as a book... "

If all you got out of FATE was the kind of engagement you'd get from doing a crossword puzzle, you definitely missed the meaning of the work. I wasn't attempting to explore new territory. I had something very specific but complicated to put across and I found a form capable of carrying that meaning (I had already tried and failed in two other attempts at it). I think one day you may find yourself staring out of the window of a train and it will come to you in amoment of revelation. 'waitaminute! Now I see what he was getting at!

14 December 2006 at 17:07:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch. A crossword puzzle. That sounds boring. I'm glad what criticism I have of your work isn't anywhere near as severe as how you've characterized it. Otherwise, it sounds like reading your book would be quite a chore, which isn't how I experienced it at all.

Whether you intended to or not, the way you chose to tell your story was unconventional and inventive, which is one of the reasons I tend to enjoy your work in general. So when you say, "I wasn't attempting to explore new territory" I'm assuming you don't mean you were attempting to explore territory already well tread.

If you mean that you don't find your own book particularly inventive on a formal level, that's an arguable point, and I'm sure, you of all people could point out many many precedents.

"you just don't understand me" is too easy. Maybe you're right, and I'll have some great epiphany somewhere down the road, but I think I did have a good sense of what you were attempting to get across, and it's fair of me, in my own assessment of my own personal reading material, to make the conclusion that there were a lot of good ideas, yes, there was a recognizable theme, but maybe your conclusion wasn't the same as my conclusion, and it's perfectly fair for the two of us to disagree.

Fortunately, there exists a world of critical thought beyond the two camps of "those who understand me" and "those who don't". There can also be "those who respectfully disagree with me" and "those who have different ideas from mine which are perhaps equally valid".

I've enjoyed reading about, and have identified with the people in your comics, including your own stand-in, and I've had this experience, or at least some convincing facsimile, at various points as I read Fate of the Artist. Of course my identification may be with something other than what you're convinced you expressed, or were attempting to express. But isn't that great? Isn't it great that there's not just one way to interpret or view your work?

14 December 2006 at 19:38:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Morbid Molly said...

Wow poor kid, a 7 year who thinks about decomposing bodies and dismembering people is pretty tragic. She probably ended up with a face tattoo and a penchant for "self-harm".

25 June 2012 at 02:58:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

no tattoos. One of the most balanced and happy personalities I've ever known.

25 June 2012 at 21:54:00 GMT-5  

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