Saturday 14 April 2007

Bastards I have drawn.
(The Villains in my Home Town- part 4)

T here were going to be two villains in this post , but I couldn't find another one up to this man's standard of bastardry*.

From Sharon Marshall's TV voice-over:"The psychiatrists said he can't be helped; he has been raping men and women since he was fourteen. The judge sentenced him to an indefinite period following his latest spree. He was on home detention last year when he raped a fourteen year old boy in Brisbane. He then fled to Mackay where he indiscriminately plucked five victims from the street and held them hostage. During that night of terror he sodomized a teenage boy and raped a woman who was five months pregnant. The police net eventually closed in, ramming his car and arresting him."

The guy was in leg irons and handcuffs all the time in court and going to and from it.
I was pleased with the drawing. It was during the phase I was avoiding outlines and making the markers look like watercolours (as explained a couple of days back) But I still managed to get a lot of character into it.


*'Bastardry' is a nice piece of typically Australian usage which is not considered 'bad English' by any means, as in this article from our ABC NEWS ONLINE: Monday, February 5, 2007. Timing of Hicks charges 'an act of bastardry'
"The Australian lawyer for David Hicks has accused the US military of an act of bastardry for waiting until the departure of his legal team to announce new charges."


This looks like an exhibition worth seeing. (link via Journalista)
Beyond impressions: The multifaceted Monet you didn't know.
By Souren Melikian-April 13, 2007
"LONDON: Perhaps the moment of truth only comes for painters when they start drawing. Many viewers may rally to this conclusion after seeing the surprising show "The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings" on view at the Royal Academy until June 10 before reopening on June 24 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts...
How Monet made his transition from a hack cartoonist to a brilliant artist is not known..."

but the article ends on rather an odd note:

"What a pity this giant devoted so much time to his most superficial phase - Impressionism."

What? The great flowering of Impressionism, after which art would demand to be regarded in a different way... superficial? Still, it could have been worse. He could have wasted his life drawing comic books.


Friday 13 April 2007

This is your Life.

H ayley Campbell is twenty-one today.
Having an autobiographical cartoonist for one's pa may not turn out to be a good thing in the long run, so here we go with the customary embarrassing stuff, starting with her potty training, as depicted in little italy (birthday or no, I've still got to push these books.)

"They spent the night in a crockery jar
and each of them thought
'How wise we are'..."

Her fascination with the the things that live under rocks started early.

Speaking of beasties, she was the first to see the Snooter flying in. (Tell them it had a long curly proboscis. They never believed me.)

Studying languages:

Visiting Hollywood:

These were the angry years:

But it all turned out as well as could be expected. This is the latest photo of the lass, in Paris this year, as provided by Nathalie, regular visitor to this blog. (Hope you don't mind me using it here... thanks in advance).

panel 1 from Doggie in the Window (1986) collected The King canute Crowd, 2 and 3 from Little Italy (drawn 1987, collected 1991), 4 and 5 from The Dance of Lifey Death (1993)... these last two books are now in Three Piece Suit, 6-9 are in After the Snooter ( drawn 1995-2002) and 10 is 'Angry Cook' from The Fate of the Artist (2006). Fate is from First Second. Top Shelf has that and all the others. The line of verse is from my rendition the Jumblies by Edward Lear.

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Thursday 12 April 2007

The Villains in my Home Town. part 3.

T he technique used for court sketching is usually pastels or some similar quick-sketching medium. But my pal Pete Mullins had gone in using the pantone© markers of the graphic designer, which was an interesting approach I thought. Nobody sets out to make a career of court sketching, or at least I don't think so, therefore it's interesting to see artists from different sub-disciplines moonlighting here. For instance, in many of my images you can tell that I'm at heart a cartoonist. An artist who is on other days a sculptor, or a landscape painter, would approach the task in quite a different way from me.
I followed Pete's lead as I didn't have time to give it much thought (i.e. I was needed tomorrow morning), nor did I have a box of pastels handy for that matter. My own way was very linear to start with; pencil and then tighten that up best I can as after a couple of outings I knew they'd always zoom in on the face. Then I'd take it to the canteen where I could spread out with my tools, outline with a fine marker and then fill with pantone colours based on colour notes I'd made in pencil.

This pair set a sleeping vagrant on fire for a laugh. The man died in hospital. In agony I guess. The boy on left is pixilated because he was underage. There's a paragraph at the foot of an earlier post about the pixilation of faces

Later I started to experiment with a quite different way of making the sketch, by working quickly on ordinary typing paper with Pantones of very subtle muted tints. the paper would be constantly soaked so that the end result had the look of a watercolour painting. And all done with markers. This enabled me to get away from that cartoon look toward something more photographic almost.

But then I missed some of that character insight I was getting in the earlier style.

This man abducted a schoolgirl and raped her.


If my courtroom sketches are starting to make you feel that Australia isn't a safe place to walk about in, check these out. Just in from my pal White, writer of the Playwright and other works of note. This is one of the country's best beaches.

And these are the boys who live on it.

Talking about nasties, we have occasionally in this blog visited the subject of spiders which eat ya. Check out this one, or don't , if necrotic flesh upsets you.


From Hayley Campbell: "harking back to your post on Feiffer, THEY'VE DRAFTED MUNRO!"
German army drafts four-week-old baby
Tue Apr 10, 2007 BERLIN (Reuters) -
The German army sent a draft notice to a four-week-old baby named Lucio, ordering him to report for duty within the next 10 days, before realising it had blundered.

Youtube: Shat and Joe Jackson perform Common People
(thanks, mr j)


Wednesday 11 April 2007

The Villains in my Home Town. part 2.

T his situation always terrified me. I'd get the phone call from reporter Sharon Marshall to see if I was available to sketch. It was informal like that. I'd have to iron a shirt and get on my bike, with my art stuff in my backpack. I had the whole system worked out , except I never seemed to be able to have a shirt ironed ahead of time. I'd get into the courthouse to find that I had to draw not one villain but a whole gang of them.

These jail inmates had made a desperate bid for freedom, armed with makeshif knives, axe handles and rocks, hijacking the prison tractor to ram through the high fences, and wounding seventeen prison warders in the melee, which was captured on security cameras.

The various rooms in the courtouse all have their different aspects, and I was never entirely comfortable with this one. I preferred the situations where I could get an angle on the figure that enabled me to do something big and bold with volume and depth, as in the first one I showed yesterday (he was trying to turn away from me, which played into my hands) or if it was one figure I could do a thorough character drawing (again, as with the two yesterday) but with this one I was stuck with a frieze-like group shot. The camera went in close, so that the image was much larger on screen than the original, and thus looking very loose, and panned across...

Once outside the fences the ringleader was run down by a prison truck and was allegedly suing for injuries.


Scary trousers- five minute video.
In the Q & A following a reading at Book Soup, West Hollywood, Neil Gaiman tells the origin of his occasioal nickname 'Scary Trousers', which involves Alan Moore, the sequence of From Hell for which I am currently showing the scripts on this blog, and my recounting of the anecdote as an episode in King Bacchus, which is currently out of print. (link via Neil himself)


Our pal John Coulthart has put that morbidly compelling Sopranos poster by Photogrpaher Annie Liebowitz beside the Delacroix painting upon which it was modelled: those other Italians visiting Hell, Dante and Virgil.

Update! My pal Duds in comments draws our attention to this: Joe Pantoliano's panties get in a wad. Ralphie doesn't like the way he's represented in the new issue of Vanity fair (i.e. With his head off). Annie Liebowitz again. I forgot to pick up my copy on the way home from lunch with my pal White.


Tuesday 10 April 2007

The Villains in my Home Town. part 1.

I just had my the old videotape of my courtroom sketch- stories from 1997, ten years ago, converted to disc, thanks to Michael Evans. Thus I can now make jpegs and get a few blog stories out of it. I told the anecdote in After the Snooter of how My pal Pete Mullins got me involved in doing the court sketching for Channel Ten News here in Brisbane (Ten was trying to poach him fron Seven for whom he was occasionally doing it). That first one was a humdinger, with five villains on trial all at once, and somehow I failed to record it from the television that evening. The ringleader had a word tattoed on his forehead and I couldn't get close enough to read it and every time I tried he gave me an evil eyeful. I was called upon perhaps twenty five more times over an 18 month period and I found it all quite educational. We 'graphic novelists' don't get out of the house all that often, so these excursions gave me a healthy dose of reality with which to temper my fictional inventions. I don't have all of the cases recorded, only around eighteen, and I didn't go up to the station to get any of the artwork back, but there should be enough here to work with, and I think you'll be surprised by some of it. I started the work a little hesitantly as you can imagine, but before long the villains in my home town were starting to look like comic book baddies.

This smouldering hulk was out of jail for a counselling session. He missed that and instead separately abducted and raped two women. He’s back in for thirty years now. Well, twenty remaining. Ten's camera zooms...

This school teacher had sex with an underage pupil. His wife dobbed him in, as they say here in Australia (dictionary of Australian slang: dob). In my sketch he looks like he wouldn’t be out of place in the Batman animated tv show. Except I draw better shirt collars than those dudes.


I was sitting on this to see if it connected up with some other things, but my brain is heading off in another direction, so I'll menton it here at the foot of this post.
On the subject of Copyright once again, thanks to Ben Smith for the heads-up. John Lanchester covers the whole history of copyright in one sweep of the hand, takes a disparaging look at eager litigation in the USA and assesses the possibilities of Google Book Search. This article is a must-read.
It's a steal
The Guardian --Saturday April 7, 2007
"Many of us take it for granted that we can download films or music without paying. Now, new projects such as Google Book Search will make millions of books available too. What will this mean for authors and the publishing industry? John Lanchester asks who owns what in the digital age
Google never gives out figures about anything, but I was told that the Book Search programme already includes more than a million books; and the number is growing daily. Only the world's very biggest libraries are bigger than that. Ovenden said: "I think in the 21st century Google Book Search will be regarded as one of the great historical enterprises. It's not the only one, but it's up there."


If you have ever heard me talk, you know that I have a Scottish accent. It presents no impediment to communication whatsoever unless you have previously plied me with alcohol, after which all the sounds become exaggerated in their distinctive colourings. An 'E' becomes excessively E-ish and the same for all the other sounds, and such clarity is usually more than the human ear can withstand. While googling myself this morning I followed a link to a transcript of a talk I once gave where I am introducing 'The History of Ron Howard". I can only presume it was the History of Fom Hell. Given that Howard doesn't show up again for the rest of the duration one would have expected the transcriber to have questioned it. On the other hand, i was indeed improvising, which is why ah canna stand to read it all throo to see if wee Howie does turrn up agen or no.

pour me another sherry, maude.

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Monday 9 April 2007


T here's a beautiful collection of Frank King's Gasoline Alley sundays on the subject of Walt Wallet's annual Autumn walk with Skeezix at Roger Clark's art website.
And they are shown at a huge size too, which is something we so rarely see. (via Comics Reporter).
There are 38 beautiful pages celebrating the changing colors of nature and the disappearing American countryside. Here's a panel, left, from November 11 1934.
And if you're looking for more after that there's a much smaller selection at Bugpowder. The panel below is from August 25 1929 and the subject is still nature.

I'm glad to see the selection based on a theme other than the dream pages that are occasionally rounded up as appealing examples of the series. Lovely as those pages are , and they are certainly that, they are often presented, along with Krazy Kat and Polly and her Pals as the last flourish of fading pictorial beauty in the Funnies in the tradition of MaCay's Little Nemo. The real treasure in Gasoline Alley is elsewhere. It is in the sheer length of its attention to ordinary daily life in America in the first half or the twentieth century (it lasted much longer than that of course, but one always feels that its heart was in those years even when the events weren't). One of the best observers of the strip has been Donald Phelps, in an essay that appears in his Reading the Funnies:
"The kind of American epic, in muted tones, which King was to propose can be traced very early on, in affectionate fiddling with perspective; it emerges in King's work as a way , not of questioning the gravity or stance or aspect of the material, but, rather, of refreshing the reader's appreciation of it. Not of "penetrating" the ordinary, but of manipulating it, with a long-time tinkerer's patient adroitness. Ordinaryness is a given of Gasoline Alley's world; something not to be converted, but to be endured as gracefully, stoically, playfully, as circumstances, and one's moods and talents, allow."
(Phelps' writing itself invites the kind of analysis this fellow attempts in a review, at sensesof, of the book just quoted)

The true appreciation of this great strip demands a reading of it as a daily event, not just a sunday day-off special. And Drawn and Quarterly are doing us the service of providing it. I have just noticed that I have not yet bought the second volume, and there's a third almost upon us.

One thing I love about the earliest weeks of the strip is that there is always one day in the week, not always the same, when it appears as a single-panel comic, a large panel in which each of the characters would be simultaneously giving his opinion on some aspect of motoring or car maintenance. The syndicates would soon do away with such irregularities in the great homogenisation of the comics format that was still to come, and in our own times the McCloudians would absurdly tell us that King was working in a different medium on those days. The one on the open page is from March 16 1921. If you look closely you'll notice I've pencilled 'weds' beside the date. I guess I might be the only person to whom such trifles matter.

These gorgeously produced books give the work an appreciation appropriate to this era of the 'graphic novel.' The cuttings were mainly provided by Joe Matt who was interviewed about his involvement in the New York Times of January 14 2007:
Comics: See You in the (Restored, Reprinted) Funny Papers
"'A NIGHTMARE,' Joe Matt sighs. 'All those years, all that money, all that work. None of which I’ll ever get back.' Mr. Matt, the graphic novelist best known for his absurdly self-centered autobiographical comic “Peepshow,” is sitting in a prefab booth at Daily Donut in Los Feliz, a neighborhood spot favored by quiet elderly customers and infrequent rushes of teenagers seeking afterschool snacks. He is speaking of his quest for the perfect collection of Frank King “Gasoline Alley” comic strips, from 1921 to 1960. Mr. Matt, who owns no home, car, computer or cellphone, estimates he has spent upward of $15,000 on his mission since 1994.
“I found dealers in comics magazines and ordered the years I wanted,” he says. “A year runs about 312 dailies, of which you can get about 290 or more. Times that by 40, at $50 each. And there’s always missing strips. I’d have to order the same year again and again just to get a few missing days. God help you if you drop them, because you have to sort 300 undated strips by story line. Then I found that different papers ran the strip at different sizes, or with better printing presses. It was maddening.”
His collection forms the bulk of “Walt & Skeezix” (retitled from “Gasoline Alley” for licensing reasons), a decade-long, multivolume reprinting of Mr. King’s complete works published by D&Q (Drawn & Quarterly). (Volume 3 arrives in June.)"

Isn't this a good time to be around?


Sunday 8 April 2007

"I was waiting for a plane at LA airport at midnight..."


d e a r
When they opened the FROM HELL movie here in Brisbane the Australian publisher of the book spoke to the local Fox distributor who brought me in to spend a day doing promotional stuff. Newspaper interviews, magazine, telly. The whole day. I was given a bunch of tickets to the preview night and I got the gang along and we went out to dinner afterwards. Wee Cal was underage and he sat in the adjoining cinema watching Lord of the Rings. I joined him there after the first five minutes as I'd already seen the movie in LA. Anyway, the local newspaper, the Courier Mail was the sponsor and they put their guy up to introduce the thing. In retrospect I should have talked my way into that position, but I'd had enough of the blathering for that week.
The introduction unfolded in a rambling monotone, and just when the bit about the 'graphic novel' came up there was a guy across the aisle for me noisily trying to open a packet of Jaffas© .
"Orange / chOcOlate filled balls, with hard candy cOating - very pOpular at the mOvies in Australia"--
In fact he was making such a racket that I leaned Over and grabbed them
"Give them here." I grumbled.
I ripped the bag Open
and there were jaffas rOlling everwhere,
and a lOcal uprOar ensued.
I was embarrassed as blazes, but I slipped the guy
a nOte of my name and number and said I'd make it up to him and then I snuck Out and joined wee Cal. The name Obviously meant nOthing to him as he never called.
However, I was at LA airport twO years later waiting fOr a plane back to Australia and a fellOw came up tO me and said
"Are yOu Eddie Campbell?"
"Yes, I am."
"YOu know, I was sitting right behind yOu that night at the cinema in Brisbane when yOu
Opened that guy's Jaffas.
Funniest thing I've ever seen."

Have a great Easter Sunday.

Do They Still ROll the Jaffas Down the Aisle?