Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Quick Tip for Comics Fans

While scrolling through Journalista this morning, I came across this link:

[Review] Craig Fischer on Eddie Campbell’s seminal post-adolescent reverie, The King Canute Crowd. (Above: sequence from the book, ©2000 Eddie Campbell.)

...which proved to be an interesting, slightly academic look at one of my all-time favorite comics, but one written more for those familiar with the book than those who are not.

It also contained this paragraph and its embedded link :

There's plenty of literature about adolescent rebellion--do they still make high school kids read The Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace?--but it seems to me that the art dries up once the rebel disconnects from repressive structures like boarding schools and dysfunctional families. Once the rebel achieves a degree of freedom, his or her goal becomes existential and contemplative ("How will I live my life?") and questions like these don't lend themselves as easily to dramatic treatment as, say, conflicts between a priggish schoolmaster and a smartass student. There are authors, though, who make "How will I live my life?" a major theme of their work: Joyce explores how difficult it is to fly above the nets of "language, nationality, religion," for instance, and Kerouac's Dean Moriarty exemplifies the dangers inherent in the quest for freedom. (Warren Ellis has a sharp commentary on some of the connections between On the Road and Canute.)

Ellis' article takes a different approach to Fischer's. It's a review of sorts, disguised as memoir. While browsing around in a comic book shop, Ellis' friend hands him a copy of the collected Alec comics, and off Ellis goes, remembering his initial impressions of the book, as well as his feelings about it's updated form and content.

An excerpt:
These are the stories of Eddie's life in the Southend area, drinking at the King Canute. Eddie is Alec McGarry. Danny Grey's real name is Bob Grey. It's autobiographical fiction with the names changed, which seems to allow Eddie an essential distance to do it right. And it skirts all the usual pitfalls of autobio fiction. It shows life being lived. This may have to be explained to mavens of American autobio comics. This is not the same as Chester Brown beating off, or Julie Doucet being pathetic, or the awful spectacle of Harvey Pekar just doing nothing worth looking at for years on end. And it's not the same as Dennis Eichhorn's autobio stuff, which was genuinely interesting and engaging but never really used the medium very well. This is one of the great instinctual masters of the medium taking everyday life and showing it being lived, showing people achieving and losing and changing and loving and hating, making the living of life glorious and riveting - life as we remember it when we look back on it.

This is the article you'll want to read if you've never read Alec: The King Canute Crowd. If'n you have read it, then this is the article that you should make your friends read in order to get them reading it as well.

Wow. Two great pieces about one great comic. What a wonderful way to spend a lunch break.