Alec. How to be an Artist ~ Eddie Campbell

► door: A.IJ. van den Berg

A comic strip this, or a graphic novel rather, if it was not for the fact that Campbell makes fun of that phrase in this book. Then, he is highly ironic about anyone involved in that niche of the arts’ world. Or the graphic novel scene for that matter.

Alec. How to be an artist shows the coming of age of a young British draughtsman and writer; it’s a story loosely based on the author’s autobiography.

Campbell has a seemingly simple, sketchy style of drawing. Apart from his own illustrations he uses examples out of the works of countless others as well, and photocopied photo’s to tell his story. Oh, and words. Many words. The drawings are sometimes not much more than ironic illustrations to the captions above them.

I found the first chapters of this book hard to get into. It is more a novel indeed, instead of a classic strip. Well, not that I mind that, but it seems that the chapters in the last half of the book are much better paced. And then it works, as a novel about how a man became an artist. Plus that Campbell is simply able to show who and what influenced him, and what he considers to be great graphic novels is a bonus too.

I mean, it is all there. The disappointment after the first real book publication. The colleague that does get rich. The more experienced draughtsman who prefers to draw sketches for fans on festivals on coloured paper so they cannot be copied easily. The scene.

The life.

This book shows a bit of what strips could become, as a grown up medium.

Eddie Campbell: Alec. How to be an artist
128 pages
Eddie Campbell Comics, 2001

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