Eddie Campbell -
a Glaswegian now living
with his family in Brisbane, Australia - is one of the most influent and innovative artist in comics.
Active in the medium since the '70, he is a paladin of the indie
scene - but he has worked with majors as Dark Horse and DC, too
- with works as Bacchus and
From Hell (with
writer Alan Moore).
From Hell - a masterpiece telling the story of Jack the Ripper's crimes
- has been recently adapted for cinema and will be on the silver
screens this Spring featuring the Hughes Brothers as directors and
stars Johnny Depp e Heather
For more info and
news about Eddie Campbell go to his home page http://www.eddiecampbellcomics.com
know you has been in the comics market from more than 20 years and
you have spent all this time in the "indie" field. Could
you tell us your first exposure to comics and when did you start
working as a pro?
first came across American Marvel comics when I was in hospital
as a kid. I told this story in a recent issue of Bacchus.
In particular I noticed that the American comics gave the names
of the artists. It had not occurred to me up until then that comics
were created by human beings. I thought they were an act of god
and from that moment on I decided that I wanted to be one of these
Since then I have always believed myself to be an artist and have
conducted my life around that principle but I did not make a living
as one until I was in my 30s.
Which has been your influences both as a penciler and as a writer?
Sometime after discovering American comics I uncovered the entire history of
the newspaper comics and this opened my eyes to the idea of comics
as art. I'm thinking particularly of the work of George Herriman,
Cliff Sterret, Clare Briggs and Milton Caniff.
is your considerations of indie publishing? Why do you choose to
self publishing? Has it been a question of creativity freedom or
The crux of the matter is not creative, it is simply that I can make more money
In Italy we basically know you for your masterpiece From
Hell written by Alan Moore. Could you tell us something about
this experience? How is working on a story so dense and atypical?
Of course it was great to work with a genius like Alan Moore but I think that
From Hell really is nothing compared to the other book that we did
together called The Birth Caul which is to be published in
Italy soon by Black Velvet.
many researches have you done to choose a style adapted for the
story and its atmosphere? Was it a natural choice or have you had
to work hard on it?
Essentially I imagine myself working in the 1890s and used the style which I
imagine would have come naturally to me at that time.
know we'll see soon a movie based on From Hell and that they
have started shooting it on Prague. Could you give us more info
about this and are you - or Alan Moore - involved in some way in
the making of this movie?
They have finished shooting the film and it should be out in America around
may 2001 but this may be pushed back to July or later. Alan and
I have no involvement with the movie.
An other story published here was "The Return of Mink Stole",
that one you draw for Will Eisner's The Spirit New Adventures
written by Neil Gaiman.
Neil has been a good friend of mine for a great many years and its certainly
very enjoyable to illustrate one of his stories after all of this
time. I also wrote and illustrated a Spirit story of my own which you may not
have seen. It was called "The Pacifist". It was the autobiography
of a sentient bullet with an aversion to violence.
My first exposure to your works was reading a paperback
of your wonderful Bacchus. Could you present this peculiar
character to the Italian audience? Why do you create an hero based
on a mythological figure?
the autobiographical stuff my intention had been to render the humdrum
details of my life and the environment around me in a way that would
show it to be exciting in the way that I find ordinary every day
I still think of it as an adventure. The way you do when you're a child and
you wake up in the morning excited with all the things that you're
going to do and all the characters that you're going to be. I've
always had a great love of the great adventure serials that I've
followed whether its Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon or Star Trek on
the television and I found myself longing to create something similar.
An ongoing serial with larger than life characters and constantly
changing exotic locations. I found that mythology provided a springboard
to creating characters like the Eyeball Kid or the Gods
of Business. I would have found it difficult to create those
characters out of nothing. Mythology gives them an internal logic,
a "raison d'etre" or a back story as they say nowadays.
you present us The Birth Caul which will be published in
Italian soon. Has it been a strange experience working on it?
The Birth Caul is the best thing that Alan has ever written. He wrote it as a theatrical performance
monologue which he performed in the old county court house in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
on his 40th birthday. It was recorded and released as a CD and subsequently
we adapted it into a comic. It is a dark and profound piece of poetry
which made extraordinary demands upon me as an artist, particularly
the chapters on childhood where he has re-created perfectly more
than anything else I have ever read the feelings of growing up.
I had to come up with many unusual solutions to the problems of
matching images to such an elusive text. In one instance I smashed
up an alarm clock and glued parts of it to the page. In another
I stitched together a miniature pair of child's pajamas and glued
thm to the page.
is some truth in the voice you'll write stories for Tom Strong,
the flagship title of Alan Moore's ABC line?
Alan asked me but because of my hectic publishing schedule I would not be able
to give it the attention it deserves.
time ago The Comic's Journal have done a courageous list of the
Top 100 (English language) Comics of the Century. And on the podium
we find: 3rd Walt Kelly's Pogo, 2nd
Charles Schulz's Peanuts, 1st George Herriman's
Krazy Kat. Do you agree with this final result or there are
some others you like more, maybe outside the English language comics?
For info: you was at the 51st position with your autobiographical
Alec Stories and at 41st one with From Hell.
agree completely with the top three although I had a long running
argument on the journal message board about some of their later
choices. Two of my favorite cartoonists did not appear at all on
the list: Clare Briggs and Tad Dorgan.
Could you give us your own definition of comics?
I disagree with Scott McCloud's definition in that I don't think that we should
seek to define comics on a formal basis. I think that some of the
best comics do not involve "sequential images" which is
the basis of every formal definition of comics.
about Internet, do you see an online future for comics or do you
think the pleasure of paper can't be replace?
I think that comics will change so that eventually we will have to just stop
calling them comics because they will have become something else.
I think the spirit of comics will just move on to another venue
as it has always done in the past. I think comics like jazz music
are simply a tradition.
Comic being a one tradition of cartooning and there are many and I think the
need to see a distinctive art form is a bad sign that the tradition
is close to moribund. Rather than seeking to define it the leading
artists should be seeking (this is not to say that they aren't)
to breathe new life into it which will probably mean breaking with
past forms and definitions.
[28 December 2000]