Images © Eddie Campbell.
There are many things to admire about Eddie Campbell. First, his industry. There are 638 pages in this collection of his autobiographical comics, and that doesn’t include his other long-page-count comics like BACCHUS, FROM HELL, or all the shorter projects.
Next, he can write about himself and his friends in a way that feels real, while still having an air of the tall tale and various small side trips into pure fantasy. He makes perceptive and funny comments about all the characters, especially himself. Oh, the “Alec” of the title was the fictional name he used for himself in the early years, giving it up about two-thirds of the way through this volume. A good idea, as it gave him one remove, and allowed him to play with the facts if he wanted.
Third, Eddie has had an eventful life, especially compared to that of many artists, I’d say. Perhaps fueled by spirits of the alcoholic sort, he seems to get up to all kinds of adventures, if we are to believe what we read here. Many’s the time, while reading this book, I marveled that he’s still around and able to tell the tales.
Some folks may scan these pages to see what Eddie has to say about other creators like Alan Moore, and there’s a good deal of that. Often funny, too. But the heart of the story is Alec, or Eddie himself, as it should be. I have to wonder whether some of Eddie’s friends and relations ever think twice about what they say around the man, considering it might end up in one of his comics.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Eddie’s art, but I admire what he’s accomplished with it, and while sketchy and at times too loose for my taste, it gets across everything required, and after a while it does grow on you. I feel the same way about the lettering. Occasionally I have to look closer to see what something says, put a little more effort into it, but usually it’s just good enough. And, really, this kind of day-to-day work requires a style that moves right along, you’d never get anywhere fussing too much.
If you’re wondering, this comprises the following past collections or stories: The King Canute Crowd, Graffiti Kitchen, How to Be an Artist, Little Italy, The Dead Muse, The Dance of Lifey Death, After The Snooter, and various other shorts and fragments, plus some new material, of course. All of it entertaining, opinionated, funny, perceptive and good fun. Highly recommended.