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Author Archive: "Eddie Campbell"

Pictorial Literature

Firstly, Thursday's post nearly didn't make it due to the confusion resulting from my having switched to broadband yesterday. I accidentally turned off the power to it before going to bed, then realized I hadn't yet sent my blog entry for that day (here in
Australia I'm 18 hours ahead of Powell's). Furthermore I discovered to my horror that I'd forgotten to ask the man how to switch it back on. The text was dictated in my very tired Scottish accent by phone to Gina at my publisher's office in New York, who did well in the circumstances. "No, it's Bee, capitel Bee, oh, hell, ess, eh, sh." I awoke and got back online quickly enough to have a proper name fixed that had come out slightly incorrectly. Still, the good thing about spelling proper names wrong is that the subject will never find out when he googles himself. Authors and artists are such a vain lot. In fact I only just accidentally stumbled upon an online mention of my book from April, previously missed because 'Artist' was spelt with two As. No, it can never be claimed that blogging has done anything for the skill of spelling.

I ...


Posterity is an Ass

Posterity.

Our misplaced faith in it.

That's another another important theme in The Fate of the Artist, my new book. We used to place a lot of stock in our presumption that posterity, in its greater wisdom, would be the decider, that the measure of great works of art is that they would 'stand the test of time,' and be forever enshrined in the affections of a future world.

Then one day I asked, why should we expect posterity to be any less stupid than the here and now? Taste tends to follow a trajectory from grand to paltry. The first thing you notice in action is the filtering effect. I remember the way that my old college tutor, Derek Boshier, used to be included in the standard historical handbooks of the pop art movement in Britain and now he does not tend to be found there or at least not the last few times I've looked. I remember the most useful thing he ever said to me was, 'You don't want to get mixed up with "the art world,"' and whether that was his permanent opinion or if he was just in a bad mood ...


Writer’s Block

The predicament known as 'writer's block' is a fundamental issue in my new book, The Fate of the Artist. Sometimes we imagine it to be a familiar problem, like athlete's foot, or boredom, with prescribable remedies.

However, the term does not mean that the writer has fallen into a lethargy out of which they must be gently encouraged, or that they have simply run out of ideas. Anyone can do that. What it means is that one part of the brain is withholding the key to the storeroom from the other part of the brain, for any of the commonplace reasons that brains disoblige themselves*.

Writer's Block
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I originally had a short, one-page chapter in the book in which I laid out some of the psychological theories about writer's block, including some words borrowed from the man who coined the phrase. I even named him. 'A Viennese guy named Bergler' was the way I attempted to casually pass off this important piece of ...


Charlie Parker’s Cabbages

An important theme in my new book, The Fate of the Artist, is the artist's commonly unstable relationship with his art, and indeed with himself. By art, of course, I mean all the arts, including literature, music, etc., in short, the material that writes the dialogues a society has with itself, with its gods and with posterity.

However, the artist does not necessarily always enjoy making the art for which we love him, and naturally we have difficulty understanding why he should not be fulfilled and made happy by his remarkable gifts.

Charlie Parker's Cabbages
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In fact, the artist may one day find himself so at odds with his work that he flees in terror from the life's task he has set for himself. I recently re-watched Ken Burns's film documentary on the history of jazz music. In it, bebop saxophone genius Charlie Parker, having risen to his phenomenal pinnacle of influence at the age of 27 in 1947, was suffering badly from the ...


The Thing on the Wall

Good day to you. I'm Eddie Campbell, graphic novelist, whatever the hell that might mean. I think of myself simply as an artist, a term useful for describing anyone who makes stuff, whether it's by way of words or music or pictures or parts in movies or paper airplanes, or bigger stuff than any of that. Even God, who allegedly made all of the stuff to begin with, puts in an appearance in my new book, The Fate of the Artist. I've been making books like this for a long time now. Well not quite like this; this one's unique, and not only because it's in color. If you know me only from my illustration of Alan Moore's gargantuan From Hell (which should be back in print next month), then this may take you by surprise.

I'd like to tell a short anecdote here that didn't occur early enough to find a place in my book, which builds its form through a careful accumulation and arrangement and interconnection of such yarns. One of the book's themes is the seeming disorderliness of the artist's environment, at the center of which is his or her head. Artists' lives are ...


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