Campbell, Eddie 1955-
Campbell, Eddie 1955-
PERSONAL: Born August 10, 1955, in Scotland.
ADDRESSES: Home—Brisbane, Australia.
CAREER: Illustrator and author of comic book series and graphic novels, 1981—. Escape magazine, publisher; cofounder, Harrier New Wave Comics and Eddie Campbell Comics.
AWARDS, HONORS: Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel or Collection, Small Press Expo 2000, Eisner Award for best graphic album (reprint), and Harvey Award, all 2000, all for From Hell; Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, for The Fate of the Artist.
“ALEC” SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
The Complete Alec, Acme Press/Eclipse Books (Forestville, CA), 1990, published as Alec: The King Canute Crowd, Top Shelf Productions (Marietta, GA), 2000.
Alec: Three Piece Suit, Top Shelf Productions (Marietta, GA), 2001.
Alec: How to Be an Artist, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 2001.
Alec: After the Snooter, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 2002.
“BACCHUS SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
Immortality Isn’t Forever, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1995.
(With Teddy H. Kristiansen) Bacchus Colour Special, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1995.
The Gods of Business, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1996.
King Bacchus, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1996.
Doing the Island with Bacchus, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1997.
The Eyeball Kid—One Man Show, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1998.
Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1998.
1001 Nights of Bacchus, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 2000.
Banged Up, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 2001.
The Eyeball Kid: Double Bill, Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 2002.
(And author, with Ed Hillyer and Todd Gesicht) Dead-face: Immortality Isn’t Forever, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 1990.
Alan Moore, From Hell: Being a Melodrama in Sixteen Parts (graphic novel), (volumes 1-3 originally serialized in Taboo Volumes 2-7, SpiderBaby Gra--fix; also serialized 1995-99, Mad Love/Kitchen Sink Press [Northampton, MA]), Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1999.
Alan Moore, The Birth Caul (also see below), Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 1999.
Alan Moore, Snakes & Ladders (also see below), Eddie Campbell Comics (Paddington, Queensland, Australia), 2001.
(And author, with Daren White) Batman: The Order of Beasts, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.
Alan Moore, A Disease of Language (includes TheBirth Caul and Snakes & Ladders), KnockaboutComics (London, England), 2006.
(And author) The Black Diamond Detective Agency, adapted from the screenplay by C. Gabe Mitchell, First Second (New York, NY), 2006.
The Fate of the Artist: An Autobiographical Novel, with Typographical Anomalies, in Which the Author Does Not Appear as Himself, First Second (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of the blog The Fate of the Artist. Author and/or illustrator of comic books, including Graffiti Kitchen, The Dance of Lifey Death, and Little Italy, and comic book series, including “Hellblazer” and “Sandman.” Contributor of comic strips to Sounds and Prime Cuts; contributor of column “Genius, and How It Got That Way” to Reflex Magazine; contributor to anthologies, including Bizarro Comics, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2001.
ADAPTATIONS: The graphic novel From Hell: Being a Melodrama in Sixteen Parts was adapted by the Hughes Brothers as a motion picture, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Scottish cartoonist, graphic illustrator, and writer Eddie Campbell is perhaps best known for his illustrations in collaboration with English writer Alan Moore on the 500-page adult graphic novel From Hell: Being a Melodrama in Sixteen Parts. The story was serialized throughout the 1990s, published in book form in 1999, and adapted as a motion picture in 2001. He also collaborated with Moore as illustrator of the comic-book essay The Birth Caul. Campbell is known for his “Bacchus” series (tales of Greek gods and goddesses) and for the autobiographical series featuring his alter ego, Alec MacGarry. Campbell began the “Alec” series in the early 1980s, soon after he broke into the British New Wave comics scene, when a carefree young Alec spent much of his time visiting the pubs. In 2002, Campbell published Alec: After the Snooter, a midlife version of the “Alec” series, in which the protagonist uses Campbell’s own name. Campbell’s style of illustration is recognizable by his scratchy lines and improvisational black-and-white drawings. According to Rob Vollmar, writing in Comic Book Galaxy, “There is nothing simple, really, to say about Eddie, except that he is one of the most literate and sophisticated comics creators alive today and is generally adored by those who know him.”
From Hell is Moore’s fictitious version of the story of the gruesome 1888 Jack the Ripper murders in London’s Whitechapel district. Moore’s story follows a popular theory that the Ripper was Queen Victoria’s physician, Sir William Gull, and that he made an example of prostitutes who threatened to expose Prince Albert, the queen’s grandson, who allegedly frequented the district. The plot also involves Scotland Yard and the London Freemasons. The title comes from a letter written to the London police by Jack the Ripper, which he claimed to be writing “from hell.” Each thoroughly researched detail adds historical value to the book, and every murder is both described and drawn in vivid and imaginative detail, delving deep into the mind of the killer and his victims. Moore also connects the Ripper cases to serial killings of the late twentieth century. In an interview with David Carroll of the Tabula Rasa Web site, Campbell said From Hell is “all about the horror inflicted by a patriarchal system, that’s Alan Moore’s basic theme… He cites the history of man and woman from a feminist viewpoint, but he puts it in the mouth of someone who wants to usurp that, who wants to re-establish the old order.”
A reviewer for the Grovel Web site found that Campbell’s illustrations in From Hell are “perfectly suited to the dark, gas-lit streets of Victorian London” and that they “pull you into the pea-soup fog and grimy poverty.” The reviewer called From Hell “horror at its most disturbing.” In a review for Booklist, Gordon Flagg praised Campbell’s drawings as “atmospheric” and crucial to the book’s effect. He wrote that the “deep black ink seemingly consisting of chimney soot and blood” vivify “the horrific portrayal of squalid brutality.” Jeremy Fenton, in a review for the Northern Rivers Echo Web site, commented: “The construction, delivery and ending… are as good as any I have read in any Booker prize-winning novel.”
The Birth Caul, which has also been set to music as a spoken-word piece, grew out of Moore’s experiences on the death of his mother. A mystical contemplation, it questions the purpose of life and makes the reader think more carefully about how to spend each day. Campbell talked about the process of illustrating the book in an interview with Vollmar. He remarked: “Basically, the memories [Moore] was describing were ones that I shared. That text is so real it’s heartbreaking. I had images bursting out of my head and I wanted to get them all down. At no stage in the work did I ever run out of things to draw and paint.” Campbell said the book is designed in mathematical sections, to coordinate with the music. “It’s quite hypnotic and almost disturbing the way it keeps to the plan,” he told Vollmar. “Like a death march or something that we cannot escape from. A dark inevitability.” He also said the book is filled with hidden symbols and layers of meaning that most readers will miss.
Campbell’s “Alec” serials have been among his favorites, as they allow him to write in his most comfortable voice. In 1990, after writing the “Alec” books for a decade, Campbell published The Complete Alec, recounting Alec’s escapades with his buddies at the King Canute pub during the 1970s. The book has been compared with the 1950s American writer Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Ray Olson, in Booklist, wrote that Campbell’s drawings resemble “the loose, sharp-lined naturalism” used in Kerouac’s book covers.
In Alec: How to Be an Artist, Campbell tells the story of his long struggle as an artist in the comics business, of efforts to reform the industry and promote the graphic novel, and of the courtship of his future wife, their marriage, and their move to Australia. Gordon Flagg, in Booklist, found the book packs a lot into a small volume but that Campbell’s “droll playfulness” makes it surprisingly entertaining.
Alec: After the Snooter is a slower, more reflective story, as Campbell tells of a strange insect, the Snooter, that finds its way into his home in Australia and evolves into a symbol of his passage into middle age. He writes about growing up in Scotland and discovering American comic books, running his own publishing business; his affinity for wine; working at home; moonlighting as a court artist; his wife, family, and friends; and the demon of midlife, pictured as a giant moth that keeps him awake at night. He also writes about the success and Hollywood adaptation of From Hell. Gordon Flagg found that Campbell’s “narration always complements his drawings” and that his work “exemplifies the comics medium at its best.” Steve Raiteri, in a review for Library Journal, called the book “an affecting look into the brain of a creative artist.” A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: “Idiosyncratic and expertly rendered, his art insinuates its way into readers’ memories.”
In another autobiographical work, The Fate of the Artist: An Autobiographical Novel, with Typographical Anomalies, in Which the Author Does Not Appear as Himself, Campbell begins an investigation into his own strange disappearance. Through mixed-media techniques that blend typeset prose passages, fake newspaper comic strips, and photographs, the author presents “a marvelous rumination on writerly inspiration and family dynamics,” according to Benjamin Russell in School Library Journal. “I had a vision of the book I wanted to do in my head, but it was never written out,” Campbell remarked to Tom Spurgeon on the Comics Reporter Web site. “I just kept adding to it until I had the desired number of pages, but adding to the front, back and middle all at the same time. It certainly didn’t come out in a linear manner.” Campbell added: “Every new idea was accompanied by mad giggling at my audacity, followed by days of terror at the thought that that I had bitten off more than I could chew.” A reviewer in Publishers Weekly praised Campbell’s “fierce blotches of watercolor, scraggly pen-and-ink work and whiplash stylistic shifts from impressionistic caricatures to exquisitely rendered painterly miniatures.” “Playful and wise,” noted Booklist contributor Gordon Flagg, “Campbell’s latest report from the art front continues to demonstrate his mastery of the comics medium.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 1990, Ray Olson, review of The Complete Alec, p. 406; June 1, 2000, Gordon Flagg, review of From Hell: Being a Melodrama in Sixteen Parts, p. 1830; August, 2001, Gordon Flagg, review of Alec: How to Be an Artist, p. 2071; September 15, 2002, Gordon Flagg, review of Alec: After the Snooter, p. 192; February 15, 2006, Gordon Flagg, review of The Fate of the Artist: An Autobiographical Novel, with Typographical Anomalies, in Which the Author Does Not Appear as Himself, p. 55.
Entertainment Weekly, June 29, 2001, Ken Tucker, review of Bizarro Comics, p. 603.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2007, review of The Black Diamond Detective Agency, p. 51.
Library Journal, June 1, 1991, Keith R.A. DeCandido, review of The Complete Alec, p. 134; March 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Alec: After the Snooter, p. 72.
New York Times, October 19, 2001, Elvis Mitchell, “A Conspiracy Shrouded in London Fog,” p. E16.
Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1993, review of Dead-face, p. 56; February 24, 2003, review of Alec: After the Snooter, p. 54; March 13, 2006, review of The Fate of the Artist, p. 49.
School Library Journal, September, 2006, Benjamin Russell, review of The Fate of the Artist, p. 240.
Comic Book Galaxy,http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com/ (September 25, 2007), Rob Vollmar, “Eddie Campbell Interview.”
Comics Reporter,http://www.comicsreporter.com/ (May 7, 2006), Tom Spurgeon, “A Short Interview with Eddie Campbell.”
Grovel, http://www.grovel.org.uk/ (September 25, 2007), review of From Hell.
Lambiek,http://www.lambiek.net/ (September 25, 2007), “Eddie Campbell.”
Northern Rivers Echo,http://www.echonews.com/(August 6, 2003), Jeremy Fenton, review of From Hell.
Read Yourself Raw,http://www.readyourselfraw.com/ (September 25, 2007), “Eddie Campbell.”
Tabula Rasa,http://www.tabula-rasa.info/ (October 10, 2007), David Carroll, “EC Comics: An Interview with Eddie Campbell.”*