Saturday 26 May 2007

covers- BACCHUS no.10

W hen I assembled each of my first few issues of the sixty-issue run of Bacchus, I was at least five months ahead of release date. By the end of the first year it had slipped back to two months. But the cover still had to be submitted five months ahead, and for that I would have to guess three months in advance what the story was going to be about. Issue #10 is the first one where there is a disparity between my original thought and the finished one.
When we started we were supplying nine different distributors. We'd send each of them a solicitation text, a description of the story, accompanied by a small cover reproduction. It was two inches wide. I suppose they'd just glue it onto their layout for photographing. For the bigger distributors we could send colour, so we'd make those slightly larger and just colour by hand; we were past the stage where we were advanced enough to have a fully worked out painting that early in the process. We didn't even have enough time usually to keep a copy of the colour versions, so they now only exist in copies of Diamond's Previews catalogue, or Capital's catalogue (I can't even remember what it was called now). Since we had to photocopy a bunch at a time, I usually filed a black and white if there were any left over after the day's operation. I'd give a handwritten text and a bunch of repros to Anne and she'd sort it all out, always two weeks ahead of the submission deadline to allow for mailing time since we were working so far from the market.
With Bacchus #10 I had envisioned the character of Mr Dry, my take on the old Prohibition cartoon 'wowser' (as they call the type in Australia: 'one whose overdeveloped sense of morality drives them to deprive others of their pleasures.") playing a healthy game of picnic softball against Bacchus as pugilist. By the time I got to the story I had cast him as a character more likely to wag his finger at any kind of sporting activity. This in fact was the issue in which Bacchus, in a surreal diversion from the main story, finds Mr Dry washing his socks in the gene pool. The black and white version at (1) was the original solicitation image. (2) is my xerox of the original after I coloured it. If you enlarge it you'll notice that I've given Mr Dry a more receding chin since the first version, probably in a vain attempt to save this version before acceding to the need for a new figure. (3) is the new version of the antagonist. I gave all the parts, including a boldly sketched piece of watercolour for backdrop, to Mick Evans, who digitally assembled the finished cover (4). Then I gave them all away as gifts, Christmas 1995.
in other news:
Congressman chases down pick-pocket-WASHINGTON (Reuters) -May 25.
Asked about the incident, a police spokesman confirmed that "something like that occurred tonight in Georgetown."
"I can't identify the surviving victim of any crime," he said. "But, I understand the victim has been calling the news media and telling them his story."

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Friday 25 May 2007

covers- THE STAROS REPORT 1996

Continuing the general thread of a story through these covers, I wrote on may 17 and 19 that I launched into self publishing in 1995 figuring I'd solve all the problems as I went along, there being far too many of them to think about all at once. One was: how do you put the logo on a color cover (I remember Jeff Smith saying when he started Bone he didn't know how to do that either). The solution to this one arrived when Mick Evans turned up and told me my design was crap. I had plenty of good looking covers and typeset pages when I was with other publishers, but now that I was soloing, perhaps I figured everybody would be happy to accept a hand-made look. From Bacchus no. 7 on, all my books would be properly designed by Mick Evans, with text pages nicely typeset, and from then on we sent our own negatives for the covers instead of just asking the printer to put the logo in approximately the right place in one of the four colours. I was even able to have photos on the backs of the trade paperbacks and some computer trickery now and then.
The other big problem was what to do about storing extra copies Stateside for reorder activity. Chris Staros in Georgia had made enquiries about helping me out, obviously wondering how I was dealing with that. At the beginning there was a fellow in Brooklyn who was keeping boxes under his bed for me and sending out subscription copies, but after an issue per month for six months, with a couple hundred overprint on each, it was getting too complicated. Staros had a bigger plan to become a publisher, and handling my stock was his second step in that direction (Top Shelf Productions being the final destination, though not envisioned clearly at the time). He had been putting out a little annual book for a couple of years, The Staros Report, which contained a directory of addresses and numbers for publishers and agents and character listings of Love and Rockets other such useful info. Now he wanted to turn it into a proper magazine with a glossy cover, and interviews and articles. So we packaged the cover for the first of those. I did the art with the help of Pete Mullins and handed the rest of the job to Mick Evans. The result shows the big difference between what I was doing before and a new set of possiblities. Evans heads a design studio in Brisbane these days.

HEY!! Today marks six months of daily blogging here at campbell.blogspot. I gave up my day job and took on this assignment on November 25 and haven't missed a day.

hayley campbell says "here's a newish band wot I'm liking at the moment. beirut.
the fabulist:"I wish life were like this video, elephant noses, gorgeous people, and all."
A ukelele and a trumpet!
In other news.
Ohio executes man. Takes so long, he's allowed a toilet break.--Friday, May 25,
(My 'other news' is usually humorous)

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Thursday 24 May 2007


" hippopotamuses in a beer vat."

T here was a time when I used the State Reference Library, a non-lending facility, a great deal, before they closed it for refurbishment and I came to depend on the internet for my research. They probably just wanted to increase their internet access and add a few dozen extra monitors anyway. I would always arrive there without notepaper, and the solution to that difficulty was simply to pull discarded photocopies from the wastebasket and use the backs of them. Occasionally I would like what was on the front and take them home and file them. In this way I came across a small stack of papers on the front of which I scribbled 'Boxing' and filed it on my bookshelf as a placeholder until the actual book from which the pages were photocopied should one day come into my possession. That was around twelve years ago and the pages are now quite yellowed around the edges and have become in themselves a kind of book in my imagination, or at least a bookish object. They are from A.J. Liebling's The Sweet Science
A. J. Liebling (1904–63) was a longtime contributor and columnist for the New Yorker. He wrote The Sweet Science and nineteen other books of nonfiction, including Mollie and Other War Pieces... (frrom book description at
It's not a hard-to-find book by any means, and I know I'll one day sit down with it. There's something about the best of old-time sports writing that has always appealed to me. As one of the customer reviewers at that Amazon link writes:
...this book is a window into an different world, the age just before television took hold, when many people still took their amusement outside their homes.
In the same location, reviewer John Y. Liu writes:
Sportswriting is generally shlock. But A.J. Liebling was no sportswriter. Perhaps the finest reporter ever, certainly one of The New Yorker's shining lights, Liebling wrote with equal grace on the swaggering cons of Broadway, his misspent youth in pre-war Paris, blood pooled in a landing craft off Omaha Beach, just about anything that caught his sharp eye and florid pen. And because Liebling wrote what he loved, he also wrote boxing. Whether he was at an obscure club fight or a marquee bout, Liebling never saw his subjects as muscled automata. His boxers were people, every fight a story, and the stories collected in the Sweet Science form a classic work of sport that no cigar-chewing sports hack ever tossed on a wire.
Another reviewer, artanis65:
The whimsical quality of some of his writing is apparent in the following excerpt, when he's describing how putting sparring partners on the preliminary card makes for bad fights: "Sparring partners are endowed with habitual consideration and forbearance, and they find it hard to change character. A kind of guild fellowship holds them together, and they pepper each other's elbows with merry abandon, grunting with pleasure like hippopotamuses in a beer vat." That's great writing.
In The Sweet Science Liebling saw himself extending Pierce Egan's Boxiana, that monument to the sport in its early days. Egan was an early 19th century writer whose madcap prose I celebrated here on 28th March
There follows a passage from those yellowing pages on my shelf, being from the introduction to the book:
Egan's pageant scenes of trulls and lushes, toffs and toddlers, all setting off for some great public, illegal prizefight, are written Rowlandson, just as Rowlandson's print of the great second fight between Cribb and Molineaux is graphic Egan. In the foreground of the picture there is a whore sitting on her gentleman's shoulders the better to see the fight, while a pickpocket lifts the gentleman's reader (watch). Cribb has just hit Molineaux the floorer, and Molineaux is falling, as he has continued to do for a hundred and forty-five years since. He hasn't hit the floor yet, but every time I look at the picture I expect to see him land. On the horizon are the delicate green hills and the pale blue English sky, hand-tinted by old drunks recruited in kip-shops (flophouses). The prints cost a shilling colored. When I look at my copy I can smell the crowd and the wildflowers.

Playboy's Silverstein Around the World
by Shel Silverstein.
Displaying the wit and marvelous drawings that made Shel Silverstein one of the most beloved artists of the century, Playboy's Silverstein Around the World collects and reproduces the twenty-three travel pieces Silverstein created for Playboy between 1957 and 1968.
While children and adults alike know Shel Silverstein for his classic books The Giving Tree, A Light in the Attic, and Where the Sidewalk Ends, they may be less aware that Silverstein also created a dazzling series of illustrated comic travelogues published by Hugh M. Hefner in Playboy.

Thanks for link to mr j, who also mentions: "Shel of course is also the writer of such songs as-
Unicorn- performed by the Irish Rovers
Cover of the Rolling Stone- performed by dr hook
A Boy Named Sue- performed by Johnny Cash"

Update. mr j off work. Spends day finding Silverstein on youtube
Meryl Streep singing "i'm checking out" from postcards from the edge.
Marianne Faihfull singing "ballad of lucy jordan"

THAT DAMN BLOGGER! Every time they improve the system, something that I've taken for granted for the last six months now doesn't work any more. For almost a week now I cannot preview these posts. The first I see of it that isn't HTML gobbledygook is when I publish it. Then I have to pull it down a half dozen times until it's fixed. It's something that's affecting Safari and mac. So if You're seeing this in a syndicated feed, it probably still needs fixin'. You should just link straight here. You're missing a whole lot of sidebar jollies and god knows what else.
Bloody internet.
Better still, give me a call and meet me up the pub.
My Rudolph Toeppfer books from the Blithering Idiots were shipped on 9th April and still haven't got here. I ordered another lot from Amazon on 19 may and they got here today. Beautiful books. You'll be hearing more from me.
In other news:
In an experiment to see what people will take if it is offered at no charge, a free computer virus was put up for grabs and so far 409 people have clicked on it. Helsinki (Reuters)


Wednesday 23 May 2007

How to Beat an Artist, and a fan too.

The above appears at How to BEAT an Artist. Presumably when you 'search inside' you'll see one getting walloped:

That's a scene from The Fate of the Artist- see sidebar.
(Amazon tip via Ben Smith and Marcus Gipps in comments here a couple of days back)
Speaking of artists being mistreated, Heidi MacDonald alerts us to Stan Sakai being ripped off by a bastard selling his free sketch on EBAy
It reminds me of my con-sketch anecdote. A guy asks for a sketch and I say 'Only if you're buying a book.' he says, 'Okay, what's the cheapest book you have?'.
"I'm selling the Bacchus Color Special at cover price, three bucks." 'Will you draw a sketch if I buy one of those?"
"yes." I sigh.
So he pulls out his pad. As I'm starting in, "Can you make it a drawing of me?"
So now he's making things difficult and I'm beginning to feel restless. But I start sketching the generality of his physiognomy. He butts in again: "Can you make it of me, but have me being stabbed to death by a London prostitute?"
Now I have to angle the thing so that he's falling over.
"And make the prostitute Marie Kelly."
I'm starting to feel pissed off now. I finish the job as quickly as I can.
At the last moment a thought occurs to me. I execute it.
As Marie Kelly murderously brings down that blade and the blood spurts, I give her a word balloon. In it she is saying: "Take that, you cheap bastard!" and I make sure it has the guy's name on it.
He seems pleased and thanks me.
And so to sweeter things:
Craig Yoe's contest: AMERICA’S TOP TOON-A-MILF!--Monday, May 21.
And the Winner is: Morticia Addams!!!
And that’s whom I’d have picked:

(reused from my dec. 18 post. Its origin is explained there.)
On the same subject: Gomez, 'Tish Addams Broadway-bound--NEW YORK, May 21 (UPI)
The creepy, kooky Addams family is heading to New York's Broadway for the 2009-10 season.
The grand-scale musical, based on the cartoons of Charles Addams, will be capitalized for more than $10 million by producer Elephant Eye Theatrical in Chicago, Variety reported Monday.

Craig Thompson’s notebooks. Look at ‘em and weep. Like I just did.
How did he find the time? Still, now that he's blogging, that will be an end to that.
our pal hemlockman photographs a shark! But he says those sorts don't eat you. Send them all over here to Australia. Still, rather him than me.
and in other news:
Man busted while drunk driving in wheelchair --Tue May 22.
"It's not like we can impound his wheelchair," the spokesman said. "But he is facing some sort of punishment."
Reviews of the Black Diamond Detective Agency, due out middle of next week I believe:
Edmonton's Vueweekly.

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Tuesday 22 May 2007

covers- THE EYEBALL KID no.1

Above are two versions of the cover of the first issue of the Dark Horse mini-series from 1992. The first is the color xerox from my files. This is another cover that gave my editor Diana Schutz a hard time. There's no way this will reproduce, she said. Just photograph it and see how it comes out, I insisted. The problem was all this collage I'd stuck on the surface. As I said a few days ago, I was on a collage kick for a couple of years back then. The Kid's suit was made of a shiny material which looks purple on the original and in my copy, but which photographed green, and I thought that was really cool. The rest of the picture is made up of cut out stuff; the eyes are actual photograph-eyes from magazines, except the one which is an apple. There are little diagrams of jockey shirt colors from the racing section of the daily paper. And finally there are all those color stickers from the stamp books of the Billings method of birth control*, which the wife of my bosom was giving a trial back then. Whether the multitude of our progeny is due to some failing in the system or because I and hayley campbell used the calendar-mapping color stickers to make collages, is a question I will leave to my biographer.

* I see that John Billings himself died last month, aged 89. (
I'm proud to say I was involved with this project as a thesis advisor for one of the students, a young lady named Elizabeth Chasalow, of whom we will be hearing great things in the future:
Center for Cartoon Studies graduates 18--Times-Argus--May 20, 2007
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – In early 2005, James Sturm looked out the window of his studio in downtown White River Junction and saw opportunity where others saw an ancient, vacant department store.
Two years later, Sturm is graduating a class of 18 from that storefront, which has been since renovated into the Center for Cartoon Studies, a two-year college dedicated to the art of cartooning and graphic novels.
Sturm, the cartoonist behind the graphic novel, "The Golem's Mighty Swing," about a Jewish baseball team in the 1920s, was looking for teaching opportunities, but instead decided to embark on his dream to found a comics college.

Tom Spurgeon shows us the certificate of Completion (soon hopefully to be called a 'diploma'), designed by Ivan Brunetti.
More about the garbage bags, for those who have been following this important story:
Trial would have upset Ben Wicks -Toronto Star- May 18,
Fight over abandoned drawings takes toll on Wicks' family but, on a lighter note, gives glimpse into life of a sketch artist
Rarely, if ever, has a civil case dwelled so much on the legal ramifications of "garbage" or green garbage bags, the method by which Wicks stored many of his works.
In a more interesting sense, however, the trial revealed stunning insights into the work of a sketch artist, who was incredibly disorganized for all his genius and was even worse at financial management.

Wha? who'd'a thought..?
Camera phone photography emerges as art--Orange County Register--Monday, May 21,
"When people see my images, they don't believe that I took them with a cell phone," she said. "The depth and clarity of the images are so phenomenal."
The quality was good enough to persuade John Matkowsky, owner of Drkrm, a small gallery showing Elmi's work through May 26, to break from his norm of featuring only traditional silver prints to do his first-ever show of digital prints.

And in other news:
Woman still likes gorilla
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A 57-year-old Dutch woman who was attacked by a gorilla at a Rotterdam zoo said the ape was still her favorite even though she felt she was going to die when he bit her.

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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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Sunday 20 May 2007

An owl.

Looking at the Bacchus Color Special cover a couple of days back, I was trying to remember how I'd been introduced to Teddy Kristiansen. And it's just come back to me. He painted this gorgeous Christmas card for me at the end of 1992 and sent it via Diana Schutz, with whom he was doing some work at the time, perhaps on Grendel. Teddy has his own blog here, but I think i visit it more than he does.
In other News:
Scotty safe! No need to Worry!
James 'Scotty' Doohan's Ashes Found in New Mexico Mountains- Friday, May 18, 2007
The payload container carrying experiments and the cremated ashes of some 200 dearly departed people — a cargo that includes remains of the beloved "Scotty" of "Star Trek" fame — has been recovered in the New Mexico mountains...
(thanks to Hemlockman)
In comments, Bat Masterson linked us to this.Hijacked Disney Characters Explain Copyright--FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2007
"Disney lawyers' heads must be spinning over this one. A movie posted on Stanford University's site called "A Fair(y) Use Tale" mashes up all your Disney favorites to humorously and effectively explain copyright law. The ten minute movie, directed by Eric Faden, came out of Stanford University's Fair Use Project Documentary Film Program. Stanford's Fair Use Project--to which Stanford Law professor, Copyright guru, Creative Commons advocate and Wired writer Lawrence Lessig contributes--was founded last year to "support to a range of projects designed to clarify, and extend, the boundaries of fair use in order to enhance creative freedom." And, well, the movie is damn sure creative, and certainly seems to take the boundaries of fair use about as far as they can go."
It’s very funny. Do watch it.
And drjon noted this for anyone following our occasional references to The Codex Seraphinianus: This fellow cracked the page numbering system a couple of years ago.
Blogger still won't let me have a preview so I'm just guessing what this post will look like and can't test whether the links work in advance of posting. At least now it's letting me save stuff.
The wife of my bosom is away for a couple of days and when I went to go to bed last night I found there were no sheets on it. I remembered they'd just been washed and went out to fetch them off the line in the dark. Sitting in the middle of the 'lawn' (we're in a drought so there's no grass on it) was Monty the dog, out of his bed, and he was looking at something sitting on top of the hoist at my eye level. It was a huge big Tawny Frogmouth owl. I stood in a state of wonder and looked into its eyes for about five minutes. I've never been this close to an owl before. It sat still and looked back at me. I left it undisturbed and went in and put something else on the bed

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