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 not by necessity disorderly ones, but it often happens that a random situation that excites their interest does not do likewise to others of a less 'artistic' nature. Obviously I cannot speak for every artistic soul in the world, but I'm sure you would grant me the generalization that Art is less organized, less predictable, less measurable, say, than science, or social security payments.
"I want this place cleaned up before I collect my father from the airport," demands the artist's wife of her elder daughter, the artist in this instance being myself, "and get that damn thing off the wall!" She is pointing out the window to the wall of the neighbors' house.
Stuck to the wall, just above their window, invisible from ground level, is a tampon.
I presume my younger daughter took it out of its box, soaked it in water, slung it around her head on its string and jettisoned it out of our kitchen window, for nothing more than the indescribable joy of childish mischief, perhaps years ago. It clings there, expanding and contracting with changes in the weather, exciting my perennial curiosity. Adaptable cotton blossoming against unyielding wood. "You'd have thought Granddad would have seen one before," says my elder daughter, hoping to find a way of avoiding the task, as teenagers are wont to do of tasks generally.
"Hmm... I know he's of that generation in which women didn't talk to men about such things, but, y'know, he was a lawyer for fifty years. He's defended the whole spectrum of humanity, he's seen society's underbelly. I'm sure he's come across a tampon in among it all."
"No, silly. I mean, hasn't he seen one stuck to the side of a house before?"
Books mentioned in this post
Eddie Campbell is the author of The Fate of the Artist