alec: How to Be an Artist

I have a love-hate relationship with Eddie Campbell. On the one hand, his artwork can be a little hard to look at with its scratchy lines and slapdash look. It's always a struggle for me to start reading anything that he's put together. But that's not why I hate him. I hate Campbell because he's such an amazing creator. He churns out genius in every page he draws and every book he writes. Even the material I don't like I genuinely admire, because it's so damn textured. He crams more history and culture into a panel than most people manage in an entire comic. To wit, How to Be an Artist is not really a guide to being an artist (although it is that, too). Instead, it is an autobiography of Campbell's journey through comics (via his alter ego, alec); a history of the comics medium (with emphasis on the last twenty-five years); a review of the great works of that time period; a reflection on the nature of art; and a gossipy tell-all about all your favorite (and not so favorite) comic makers. And it's good.

Plus, the longer you look at his drawings, you more realize that all those little scratches are either an amazing shorthand or an intricately layered mosaic.

I hate him.