Saturday 2 December 2006


Springboarding from some recent comments: very pleased that Marcus Gipps, author of the review I linked to, didn't take offence at my proposed 'It's not a graphic novel, Percy' campaign. On the contrary, he regretted missing the opportunity to nab the original sketch. Tobey Cook got that (any sketches I do for the blog I'll be mailing off to the first person who puts their hand up, so you have to look in regularly). Hayley Campbell (we always give her the full two names. Not sure how that came about. Funny thing is that most people who meet her and don't know this is a long tradition going back to her birth , find themselves doing it too) has demanded to be the first to sport the slogan on a t-shirt. Hey, you know, I'm not copyrighting this thing. If somebody beats her to it, i'll put the photo up here. I'm not even promoting anything, except chaos of course.
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Aaron White's comment to yesterday's post reminded me of something that fell out of a library book I once borrowed: several photos, I think four or five, of a young girl in various poses, obviously enjoying just being herself. Maybe I should have tried to trace her (or whoever was cherishing her photos) through the library but this was in a period when i was up to my neck in problems and wasn't thinking clearly. Or at least, not about other people's problems. Considering it later, the photos looked like they were taken in the 1960s, twenty years earlier, and they came to haunt me. When I needed a model for the doomed Avril Allard in Alan Moore's The Birth Caul, I remembered these images and, using them, I was able to recreate an authentic-seeming girl from their various angles and viewpoints. Perhaps my sympathetic sadness for somebody's loss of these lovely photos helped me to create the required tragic note.
"His sister Avril, 5 years older, wears black tights and a perfume called Midnight Passion. Smugly notices but does not acknowledge the mute worship of her brother's friends.

"is sat astride her boyfriend's motorcyle, when it hits the rear end of a lorry, 'doing the ton' along the Weedon Road."

"playground Mythology, our only truth, maintains that she is cut in two on impact, torso there to one side of the road, her perfect legs upon the other.""And still conscious, but gone to a beatific place beyond the pain. And smiling. An immaculate teen angel, dying there upon the glittering macadam when we loved her."

The Birth Caul was collected earlier this year along with Snakes and Ladders and My long interview with Alan Moore in The Disease of Language published in a neat hardcover from Knockabout, with design work by my pal Evans, who just about fell out with me over the whole thing. My pals, whatcha gonna do with them?


Friday 1 December 2006

Look at all the lovely people

Can this handsome man with his beautiful lady wife in front of Times Square possibly be a 'graphic novelist'? Gene and Teresa Yang after the National Book Awards. Gene had the honor of being nominated for his American Born Chinese, in the young readers category. I'd be a runner up in anything if I could be either of the people in that photo (by Mark Siegel, with more of them at First Second Books)
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For all those whose appetite has been whetted by my words and links re. mr j, I give you his latest. Out of context of the series as a whole, it may not be clear that the titular Hayley Campbell doesn't appear in this example. On seeing it she said; "How come the Mammy gets a nose and I don't?" (click for larger)Well, you see, that's one of our tricks of the trade, those subtle techniques we cartoonists use to differentiate characters.

A whole bunch of these strips can be found in the upcoming DeeVee.

The colourful cover above came about when my pal White (who is by day a chartered accountant, you will remember me saying yesterday) said to my pal Evans, the designer, "We're forking out for full color on the cover, so I don't want any of your minimalistic crap." The issue will also contain the next chapter of The Playwright by White and me. We've managed to get out one of these per annum for the last four or five annums. At this rate, by the time we gather it into a book White will be retired and living off his perfectly planned superannuation.
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Here's an odd item. 'Una curiosidad sobre el From Hell.' On Little Nemo's Kat, a Spanish blog; the writer reports on the finding of an annotated copy of From Hell in his local public library. By annotated I mean thoroughly glossed in blue ballpoint pen in the margins, with cross refs to the notes at the back. He has scanned and reproduced a couple of pages. If anyone can ventilate the Spanish better than Google, send me an update and I'll report further (unless it turns out to be dumb of course). (since I jotted this draft I see the writer has responded to the note I left on his blog, in the comments section of my From Hell post.)
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Still on From Hell, Mark Clapham commented...
"Gull Catchers part two? Very tempting. I'm probably not alone in thinking its one of my favourite parts of the book.
The most startling Ripper revelation in recent years was on a recent documentary on the UK's Channel Five, in which a contemporary criminal psychologist was asked to look at the evidence. Her conclusion was that a man who butchered his fellow human beings in such a way probably 'lacked empathy'. "
Revelatory indeed. thank god we have experts. I haven't seen the show but i did read about it. Like Alan said, we've got enough for another 24 pages of hilarious ripperology. It was the favourite part of the book for me and my pal Mullins, where we were permitted to unleash our madcap antics that had been kept very much under wraps till then.


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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Wednesday 29 November 2006

It's not a graphic novel, Percy.

Another reason I wanted to start a blog is that I've noticed i often tend to be misrepresented around the Internet, and If I put my actual words here then people can just link instead of trying to paraphrase. For instance, there's a guy here saying : "William Hogarth...early work that bears similarities of form, although Eddie Campbell has argued that these may be more a collection of cartoons rather than actual comics. " No, what I said is : ARGUING ABOUT LABELS IS A PAIN IN THE ARSE. (and anyway, both comics and cartoons are anachronistic terms in relation to the satirical prints of William Hogarth). There's a review of my Fate of the Artist by a fellow with impeccable taste (he likes PG Wodehouse) which begins "Not a graphic novel per se...". (Actually, I don't mind this because it fits with an idea I want to get around to in a few days. Tomorrow, or tomorrow, or tomorrow.) But it's remarkable that there is somebody who knows what a graphic novel is. I just wrote a sidebar for an article in World Literature Today explaining that the term is used in four mutually exclusive ways. So anybody who knows for a fact what it is... is doing better than me.back
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First person to ask for it in the comments can have that little Campbell drawing signed (I've only just noticed it's unsigned but I'm not rescanning it) and sent to them. If you don't want to leave a street address, give some way of opening email contact. When "It's not a graphic novel, Percy" becomes the catchphrase on everybody's lips and t-shirts over the next few months you can say you have the little sketch that started it all.
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When I give a reason above for blogging, I naturally understand that there are much bigger forces at work that subject little folk such as me to 'the nihilist impulse'. Breach has just drawn my attention to Geert Lovink's interpretation of the blogosphere: "Blogs bring on decay. Each new blog adds to the fall of the media system that once dominated the twentieth century. What’s declining is the Belief in the Message. That’s the nihilist moment and blogs facilitate this culture like no platform has done before." I can go for this. I've always believed in a kind of nihilism as a postive thing, the throwing away of the crutches, of naive credulity.
nothing works.
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In last night's comments Lucy tells us we can still find most of the old Eddie Campbell Comics webpages at the Wayback Machine. Thanks for the help. I printed them out from the start, which is not much use to anybody else, and I'm not sure this goes all the way back to the beginning. It definitely doesn't go further than April 11 2003. After that, somebody else nabbed it. Happy rummaging

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Tuesday 28 November 2006

Old block off the chip

Hayley Campbell started a blog before I did. You may remember her from such books as The Fate of the Artist and After the Snooter. As you can see, she's in London. Her house sharing pal took her on a search for a croton to decorate the place. Never having encountered one before, Hayley says it might be one of those creatures that comes round while you're out and tries on your underpants.

If you see her, tell her that her turns in the dishwashing rota back here are piling up at an alarming rate.


Monday 27 November 2006

the technological oaf

A big THANKS to the welcome wagon in the comments section, to Leigh, Leigh, Maria (long time no speak! are you still in the ad business?), Rob, David, Dwight, Kelly, Ms Phoenix, Antonio, Smoky man. It reminds me of when I used to have a letters page in the back of Bacchus. Michael, thanks for the thought but there will be no saving of the best for somewhere else. I always have enough blather in my noodle for some frantic prose here and there (Egomania magazine, all those five page articles in the comics journal a couple of years back). To Johnny, revive my old rants form the hmm... I'll think about that. In the meantime, for anyone who missed it, I did a couple of stretches of guest blogging earlier this year at First Second and at Powell' for a whole week. And while you're at Powells', make sure you've seen the illustrrated Q&A i did there. Click on the first panel to put it in the slide show window for best effect.

As Johnny mentioned above, I used to have a good website back in 2000-2002, but i misplaced it, much to the annoyance of Chris Breach, who was running it. I've already confessed my sins to the whole world on that account. Here is Breach berating me for letting the Url go just because I was too stingy to pay the 83 dollars (or whatever it was) to renew it. This is the Spanish version.
An interesting side-anecdote to this event can be found here. I don't think Ryan knows I've read that.

Anyway, it was Breach who provided the title to this post when he recently berated me yet again, this time for watching a podcast and not saving it and now no one can find the bloody thing. And that was what he said in English. I don't know how the Spanish would go.

So, i'm a technological oaf. The whole world knows it. Here I am falling out with my computer. This is from the Italian version. The mouse did not stand a chance.

I showed that wee bastard who's in charge.

in the Scottish version.


Sunday 26 November 2006

From Hell to Eternity

I wanted a quote up here about William Gull being a giant besmirched by pygmies, but i can't find the damn thing. I thought it was in Melvin Harris' The Ripper File, but he just says "the promised devastating solution was simply the Gull hoax once again. An innocent man was once more recklessly smeared." (he was referring to the 1988 tv special, which reiterated the Stephen Knight theory of a decade earlier. But he might as well have been referring to us.) And if you google the line about the pygmies you get a soccer commentary. Not sure how the world's pygmies feel about it all. There have been enough new Ripper theories since we finished From Hell that Alan has posited the idea of an additional appendix, a "Gull-catchers 2", to bring it all up to date. Perhaps to be released as part of an anniversary special in 2008 (twenty years since we started it and ten years since we finished it. But hey, this is just a rumour. You heard it here first.

The new edition is out at last, about three or four weeks ago.. This is the seventh printing of the complete From Hell, and the second Top Shelf edition. And it was a tortuous path getting it here. It was supposed to be out in the middle of last year but our printer went into bankruptcy. Buying printing is one of those publishing things I was never very good at. The Top Shelf guys do that much better than I ever did. To tell the truth I just stuck with Sim's printer, Preney, since it so happened that he had the old style photographic machinery to make negatives straight from artwork. Nowadays the information is input digitally, and I think the plates are treated directly, leaving the big negative sheets out of the process altogether. And this state of affairs may even have something to do with Preney losing a hold in the market. The very thing they were good for inevitably put them at a disadvantage if you consider that only Campbell and Sim were running their operations in much the same way as publications have been doing for sixty years, or however long offset litho has been the preferred commercial process. (I had started to find things difficult when I started employing computer design more, on The Birth Caul and after.)

This is just one more episode in the loony publishing history of this book, which has seen publishers, distributors and now a printer all go out of business. So, the problem was that there was no digital copy of this work in existence, and the only usable materials outside of the Preney shop was my collection of fine quality xeroxes. We had already advanced the printer a bunch of money for this printing, which he had (and still has) defaulted on. And in the meantime, I spent months making scans of my master xerox file, which in the final analysis proved unreliable in places and therefore unacceptable overall. Somehow Chris Staros had gotten the printer to sneak our From Hell negatives out of the factory when the receiver wasn't looking, and store them in his garage. Chris then paid him to hire a truck and drive the whole lot to Ronalds Quebecor which is where the majority of comic books seem to be printed these days. The negs were given to a good prepress op. who proved that they knew their stuff by making excellent scans from them. It appears that the Preney negs (the one thing they were good at, remember) were better than their own print job, which means that the same materials on a better printing press have quite remarkably given us the best version of the work thus far. To seal the deal Top Shelf have put it on a better quality paper this time around. Another notable feature is the new colour painting on the front. I made this for the first top Shelf printing but the guys went into a panic about putting all that blood on the cover when we urgently needed a good display in the bigger bookstores, and they figured the buyers there would be wary. So that image appeared in black and white in the endpapers of the sixth printing (first Top Shelf).

The various typeset pages have also been refreshed and this really is the dog's bollocks, as we would say in the UK.

Anyone who kept my long history of From Hell from the old Eddie Campbell Comics website can cut and paste this onto that as the latest sorry chapter in the peculiar history of the book that has kept a roof over our heads here at Castle Campbell all these years. I used to do a one and a half hour comedy routine which consisted of telling the whole story.

But the joke aint funny any more.