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CREATOR PROFILE:

EDDIE CAMPBELL

Biography:

Eddie Campbell (1955- ) was born in Scotland, but now lives in Australia, having emigrated in 1986 with his Australian-born wife, Annie. Here’s Eddie in his own words…

“I did an enormous amount of painting when I was 14 and 15. I wandered around painting landscapes and stuff - must have done about 200 paintings between those two summers because that’s all I lived for then. Sun, rain and snow. I wanted to be an Impressionist: sit with Monet and Renoir on the banks of the Seine.”

“I was publishing my own little photocopied comics because in 1981 there wasn’t much else to do with the kind of work I was doing, and I guess other people were in the same situation because I found myself in the middle of a noisy little small-press scene… It was all very colourful and crazy while it lasted… I know for a fact that there is a real buried treasure of innovation in the body of work that was created in the British small press between 1982 and 1986 by various and sundry artists. The mainstream has ignored it and passed it by but one day it will probably return to rape and pillage that body of work.”

“I don’t put Alec forward as an autobiographical novel. I say, It’s a novel and it deals with the stuff of real life… Alec isn’t entirely me. You see, in Sherlock Holmes, in order to make Holmes look ultra clever, Watson is made to look a little bit dim - particularly in the old Hollywood movies. So in order to make Danny Gray a bigger figure in the big roughhouse world, I made Alec a little more fragile and bookish than he really is.”

“I’m not trying to make ordinary life interesting: it is interesting.”

Quotes taken from the Eddie Campbell interview in The Comics Journal #145.

Essential Reading:


From Hell
with Alan Moore
Top Shelf, 1999

From Hell is the story of Jack the Ripper, perhaps the most infamous man in the annals of murder. Detailing the events leading up to the Whitechapel killings and the cover-up that followed, From Hell is a meditation on the mind of a madman whose savagery and violence gave birth to the 20th century. From Hell combines meticulous research with educated speculation, resulting in a masterpiece of historical fiction both compelling and terrifying.

Paul Gravett says:
Those expecting to learn Jack the Ripper’s true identity may be surprised that From Hell is less a ‘whodoneit’ and more a meditative ‘whydoneit’. While writer Alan Moore uses exacting research and informed guesswork to reconstruct the murders of five prostitutes in Victorian London’s East End, captured by artist Eddie Campbell’s vigorous, textured renderings, his aim is to dissect the body of evidence more imaginatively, probing for its meaning and mythology.



A Disease Of Language
with Alan Moore
Knockabout, 2005

From Alan Moore’s interest in magic he created two performance pieces The Birth Caul and Snakes and Ladders, which Eddie Campbell has adapted as graphic works. This book also contains the acclaimed interview with Alan Moore by Eddie Campbell from Egomania, and features a never-before-seen sketchbook of the working drawings for Snakes and Ladders.

Neil Gaiman says:
Alan Moore’s The Birth Caul was a stunning piece of poetry, of autobiography, of magic, of invention.

Alan Moore says:
As with all of the site based works, Snakes & Ladders and it’s specific nature grew out from my reading of the site itself. The disinterment of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Siddel; the visionary nature of Arthur Machen’s experiences after the death of his first wife and their relation to the lunar and solar spheres of the Kaballah; the musings about DNA (which is pretty much all about death and reproduction)... all of these things seemed to have a whiff of resurrection about them, tying them together. Love, death, art, resurrection, dreams, visions, heartbreak, romance… these seemed to be the predominating colours of the landscape, that gave the place its individual soul and character.



Alec: The Years Have Pants
Top Shelf, 2009

Brilliantly observed and profoundly expressed, the Alec stories present a version of Campbell’s own life, filtered through the alter ego of ‘Alec MacGarry’. Over many years, we witness Alec’s (and Eddie’s) progression “from beer to wine” - wild nights at the pub, existential despair, the hunt for love, the quest for art, becoming a responsible breadwinner, feeling lost at his own movie premiere, and much more! Eddie’s outlandish fantasies and metafictional tricks convert life into art, while staying fully grounded in his own absurdity. At every point, the author’s uncanny eye for irony and wry self-awareness make even the smallest occasion into an opportunity for wit and wisdom. Quite simply, Alec is a masterpiece of visual autobiography. This Life-Size Omnibus edition of Alec includes collects the previous Alec books The King Canute Crowd, Graffiti Kitchen, How to Be an Artist, Little Italy, The Dead Muse, The Dance of Lifey Death and After the Snooter, as well as an all-new 35 page book, The Years Have Pants, and some other short stories rarely or never before seen.

Paul Gravett says:
For some thirty years, the Glaswegian cartoonist Eddie Campbell has been chronicling his loves, family and friends, his foibles and follies, through his alter ego, Alec McGarry, and now he has gathered them into ‘a life-sized omnibus’. The genre is flourishing now, but in 1981 autobiography was unusual, especially in the British small presses where Campbell began by self-publishing. His arabesque anecdotes eschew the angst-ridden confessionals of Robert Crumb and relate more closely to another tradition of good-humoured insights into the ever-changing life around us by observant social humorists such as Pont in his ‘British Character’ series in Punch, or the Americans Frank King and Clare Briggs.

Alan Moore says:
I like Eddie’s stuff because it’s Masculist fiction and it demonstrates that you don’t have to be published by Virago books in order to have any heart, understanding or human sensitivity. Men feel things too. It just takes them longer. I like it because it doesn’t confuse being realistic with being depressing and because it is written by someone who obviously finds being alive an endless source of novelty and conundrum. I like it because it fills me in on what would have happened to Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady if they’d traded in the Lincoln for a Ford Transit and moved to Southend-On-Sea. On The Pier as opposed to On The Road.



The Fate Of The Artist
First Second, 2006

Eddie Campbell conducts an investigation into his own sudden disappearance, producing a complex meditation on the lonely demands of art amid the realities of everyday life.

Eddie Campbell says:
“I’m trying to figure out what exactly happened to me. I feel that if I can work it all out in the book and glean some wisdom from it, then we’ll all be better off. My insight started while reading the sleeve notes pertaining to a modern composer - it may have been Olivier Messaien, but I can’t find it again… perhaps Darius Milhaud - but anyway, the composer was described as coming out of a bad funk during which he did no work and “came to despise himself and his art.” A large icicle slid through my head as I recognized myself in the words. How did I come to this? It isn’t just because there aren’t enough copies of my books going out; I’ve got along fine with that one for 25-plus years. It isn’t because I’m having cash problems - some Web site was discussing my bankruptcy - because I’m still making a living from the books. So what is it? This new book of mine may be the profoundest thing I’ve attempted. It terrifies me. I’ve drawn the final chapter, so I know it’s going to work, but I’m having a frightful time joining up all the dots, making one thing relate to the next. I am genuinely into scary new territory with this one, without a model to fall back on… it should perhaps be regarded as a flipside to How To Be An Artist. Thus: how to stop being one.”

 

Bibliography:

The Alec Stories:
The Fate Of The Artist (2006)
After The Snooter (2002)
How To Be An Artist (2001)
Three Piece Suit (2001)
The King Canute Crowd (2000)

The Bacchus Stories:
Immortality Isn’t Forever (1995)
The Gods Of Business (1996)
Doing The Island With Bacchus (1997)
The Eyeball Kid - One Man Show (1998)
Earth, Water, Air And Fire (1998)
1001 Nights Of Bacchus (2000)
The Eyeball Kid: Double Bill (2002)
King Bacchus (1996)
Banged Up (2001)
Bacchus Colour Special with Teddy H Kristiansen (1995)

With Alan Moore:
From Hell (1999)
Snakes & Ladders (2001)
The Birth Caul (1999)

Other Work:
The Playwright (2010) with Darren White
The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard (2008) with Dan Best
The Black Diamond Detective Agency (2007)
Batman: The Order Of The Beasts (2004) with Darren White

Periodicals:
Egomania #1-2 (2002)
Bacchus #1-60 (1995-2001)
Hellblazer #85-88 (1995) with Sean Phillips

Interviews:
The Comics Journal #145, 220, 273

Links:

Official Sites:
Eddie Campbell Blog (Suspended)
Eddie Campbell Comics (Archived)

Online Resources:
Paul Gravett’s Articles
Eddie Campbell Comics Index

Publishers:
First Second Books
Top Shelf Productions