2012 July 06 • Friday
Whatever else happens in 2012, the year won't have been all bad. A new Eddie Campbell book was published!
Eddie Campbell is my favorite person working in comics today, which means he's my favorite writer who also draws pictures to go with the text and my favorite artist who also writes text to go with the pictures.
"Pictures" and "text" don't really describe the medium well, though. You can forget everything you've read about comics or graphic novels in mainstream media—if you even remember any of it—and just pick up one of these books yourself.
Campbell's autobiographical work has always been my favorite. Until recently he used the character of Alec McGarry to represent himself. If you're at all interested in anything you've read so far, Alec: The Years Have Pants would be the book in which to immerse yourself.
With The Fate of the Artist (also the title of Campbell's invaluable blog), Eddie abandoned the pseudonym and introduced mixed media. The blend of homage to the golden age of newspaper comic strips with photography was startling and invigorating.
Photography is more present in The Lovely Horrible Stuff, which concerns itself with money matters: about half of the book is devoted to the Campbell family's money while the other half investigates the stone money of the people of Yap, a small island in the Pacific.
Part of the basic appeal of the autobiographical comic is the comfort it provides. You find that another person shares your worries or opinions, or has worries or opinions that surpass your own in their complications. This is true of all of Campbell's autobiographical work, but The Lovely Horrible Stuff could attract a larger readership. Who doesn't worry about money?
The writing and the artwork are as strong as always. The photographs are blended with Campbell's lines more than in The Fate of the Artist.
It begins and ends with Campbell's personal travails and suggests, to this reader, that money will drive us crazy and there isn't much we can do about it.