strangedave (strangedave) wrote,

The Fate of the Artist

We spent from Monday evening to Wednesday morning in Bris Vegas. On Tuesday, we had the pleasure of spending a few hours having a drink with Mr Eddie Campbell, and he gave us a copy of his fine new book The Fate of The Artist.

Mr Campbells company is always a fine thing. We talked about all sorts of things, largely about comics, the changing role of the artist, what he has been up to, etc. The contrast between the Campbell Batman who drinks tea with his pinky out, and the Frank Miller version who says things like "I'm the motherfucking Batman". His changes to the adventure story he is adapting, such as making a detective a silent mime a la Harpo Marx, and other 'Campbellishments'. The inability of Hollywood to understand the most basic issues of aesthetics, like symbolism and metaphor. And so on. All with much laughter and several beers.

The Fate of The Artist is perhaps the best thing he has produced, certainly the best thing for some years. Here on the internets LOL is a tired cliche, but its rare that you actually do find something that is laugh out loud funny, and there were a lot of times I did while reading this, and thats enough reason to buy it. And its a delight to see the way he ranges back and forth across a range of different styles of comic, in a technical display that might come across as self-consciously experimental if his hand wasn't so sure and spot on that its obvious he knows exactly what he is doing. But better than all that, in between all the gags and the stylistic juggling, he neatly spirals in on the deeper issues of the writers life and the creative process. A nice little package of treasured artists wisdom wrapped in newspaper comics pages.

And, especially as she is technically (though inactive on LJ of late) on the flist of this journal, I think its also worth mentioning the contribution of Hayley Campbell to this volume. The ongoing back and forth of the mystery of the artist vs the demands of domesticity gives a chance for the personality of all the Campbell family, including the dog, but especially Haley as well as her father, to shine through, and Hayleys photos (both as photographer and subject) are terrific. I hope the resulting fan mail isn't creepy.

So, go and buy a copy. Its terrific. A master of the medium, managing to make a very funny book while keeping one foot in the profound. Especially recommended if you are a professional artist or writer.
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