Monday, 21 May 2007


E volution of a portrait. That first image from 1989 has never been printed anywhere. It was my first attempt at a cover when I took the original 192 page big Bacchus story to Dark Horse. I seem to be under the influence of my old buddy Bissette there, perhaps because he had just started publishing From Hell in his Taboo, a fondly remembered anthology that was also the birthplace of the Moore-Gebbie Lost Girls. I rejected that and made another painting in 1990, the second image above. There's still a feeling of it being a horror story, which Bacchus was never meant to be, but I was prepared to give that impression if it helped attract readers. The third picture was for an issue of Dark Horse Presents in 1991, which explains its vertical format. They used to run a strip down the left hand side of the covers, with medallions showing the characters appearing in the issue. I used a closer view of that picture when I published 'Immortality' myself in 1996, this time in a 96 page version, cutting the original book into two parts. It was my first attempt at painting in oils for publication This is the set of paints I mentioned in my earlier post on the Bacchus Color Special, though I used the medium for a long time in my teens after getting a set for Christmas. (My ambition was to be Claude Monet; not just a follower, but actually the man himself.) There's some collage on there too: the grapes, and a configuration of markings from a photo of a marble slab which I pasted under the eyes and around the nose and mouth. I was getting closer to what Bacchus ought to look like. When I sold the original of #3 I had another potential buyer who was upset at missing out, so I agreed to paint a new version as a commission. This new painting, from 1998 I think, is also in oils and on a larger scale than the others. I kept a photographic transparency and used it when the time came to print a new edition of Immortality Isn't Forever (that title sounds too much like a Bond movie) in 2002. However, I painted a better ear in #3; I guess it's one of those things you realise you've been thinking about for far too long, and anyway, the best comic strip characters tend to have a physiognomy that defies photographic rationalisation. The more real he looks, the less like (Eddie Campbell's) Bacchus.
John Coulthart draws our attention to the exhibition of fakes and forgeries at the Bruce Museum in Conneticut, May 19
The NY Sun had a good long article on it on may 10.
"In 2000, Sotheby's and Christie's were embarrassed to learn they each held the one and only "Vase de Fleurs" by Gauguin. And consider those legions of small, unsigned works still beckoning scholars whose enthusiasm outweighs their discernment. The sheer scale of falsity prompted Newsweek's celebrated quip that of the 2,500 paintings Corot made in his lifetime, 7,800 were in America..."
while your at John's blog, check his showing of his own pastiches on May 21.

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Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

"The more real he looks, the less like (Eddie Campbell's) Bacchus."
I don't know. Alax Ross seemed to do a pretty good job of making him look photo real, and like he was still your man... God.

21 May 2007 at 01:38:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

Oh, and I should say, "Lovely paintings." You are sure to be one of the 10 best painters in comics today. Want to tell us about that Sandman painting you did, sometimes. I love that one.

21 May 2007 at 01:40:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

I always thought that there was a slight horror element implicit in the Bacchus ouvre: "Immortality isn't forever", the characters don't die, but they age and age and age, which does have a touch of horror about it... I liked the first Dark Horse Deadface volume cover, and I always had a fondness for the really early versions of him you used to do--gnarled and bent and drained--even though I appreciate the reasons why you bulked him up subsequently...

Thanks for the Fake Exhibit link, I always thought it was an underappreciated field.

When did Alex Ross do Bacchus? I must hunt that down. I have a recollection of you doing an Endless portrait--was it for one of those DC Gallery books?


21 May 2007 at 03:29:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

allo Jon! 'Twas! He painted a bright orange lobster. It's brilliant. Bril. Yint.

(sorry I didn't drag you out for more drinkies in Brisbane, I swiftly ran out of days and got into a panic. xxx)

21 May 2007 at 03:54:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

(pssst! I'm still upset Dad sold the lobster painting. But if you tell him that he'll only get a bigger head.)

21 May 2007 at 03:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

My favorite illustration of Bacchus is one that appeared on a cover you did for, I assume, the first publisher (Trident?). The book was called DEADFACE and it had a black & white portrait of Bacchus on the cover. It nabbed me and I picked up the book and started reading. I was much amused by that title and remain so.

Of the four above, the first two are my favorites, with the possible exception that (maybe) Bacchus looks just a tad too much like Popeye the Sailor Man in the second one. Of course I'm an admirer of Steve Bissette's work (and Steve Bissette the person).

21 May 2007 at 05:56:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That second one has a touch of the Bacon about it--the painter not the meat. If he was screaming in a cage of white bars you'd have it to a "t".

As far as horror attracting readers goes (stop me if you've heard this one...), my Haunter of the Dark book was turned down by Dark Horse with the excuse that "horror doesn't sell". Then they announced a new line of vampire books... So you'd have to do Greek vampires, I expect, drunk on blood, not wine.

21 May 2007 at 07:36:00 GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

The third one is my favourite.

21 May 2007 at 08:43:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

I'll have to dig it out, but it's in that Alax Ross book that Wizard did in the 90's.

21 May 2007 at 11:36:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

Yo! Eddie!

I got the photos from my underwater adventure in the coral reefs at the Dry Tortugas developed. Not great, but for a few bucks, the camera functioned okay.

The photo of the shark came out fine. I've since been told it was a relatively harmless critter, but as he was longer than I am tall, I was feeling like a large and fleshy chunk of bait and took off for the shallows.

I can try to post the photo here, or email it to you if you'd like. Let me know.

21 May 2007 at 21:17:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

I'll show the Ross and the lobster shortly.

and james, great shark. I'll link to it.


22 May 2007 at 20:33:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

Cool. Thanks Eddie.

23 May 2007 at 02:06:00 GMT-5  

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