Alec: The Years Have Pants by Eddie Campbell

Alec: The Years Have Pants
by Eddie Campbell
Top Shelf, 2009

Basically a 640 page compilation of thirty years of Campbell’s life in comic form, starting with the drunken English shenanigans of The King Canute Crowd and ending with reflections from the point of view of someone in their mid-fifties in Queensland with a family and career. About a third of the way into this massive book, it starts relating how Campbell’s life is shaped by the success of the previous stories: he writes about how his life is affected by him writing about his life. Over a hundred pages is devoted to How To Be An Artist, which takes him from underemployed sheet-metal cutter to freelance cartoonist, to Alan Moore, to marriage, to the “graphic novel’ bubble of the mid-’80s, to self-publishing, to children, to the curious case of Al Columbia and the missing fourth issue of Alan Moore’s Big Numbers. Quite a trip, and utterly fascinating if you’re a cartoonist.

Campbell moved to Australia with his young family in the early ’80s  and created the excellent Bacchus as well as drawing Moore’s From Hell, which was eventually made into a terrible film, allowing him to buy a house. The constant throughout is Campbell, drawn as a good-natured lanky Scottish duffer, beset with mad friends, a collapsing comics industry and stroppy pets. An observant and extraordinary collection, despite the awful title.

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