Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Lovely Horrible Stuff

Top Shelf Month continues, today with a look at a work from a prominent, prolific comics creator.

The Lovely Horrible Stuff is an interesting work from Eddie Campbell, a Scotsman who now lives in Australia. Over the years he has written and drawn a disparate array of comics, creative, autobiographical, and fantastical, and also received numerous awards and nominations. He may be best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore on the Jack the Ripper tale From Hell, his semi-autobiographical Alec comics, and following the adventures of the god Bacchus in the modern day in Deadface. In recent years, he has also written and drawn more thoughtful works such as The Fate of the Artist as well as historical fiction like The Black Diamond Detective Agency and The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard. He blogs about comics, life, and his work here.

In this book Campbell tackles the topic of money in two ways. The first half is a personal history of finance, weaving together family lore, tales of marriage and in-laws, along with accounts of the recent international financial tribulations and real estate woes that end up as legal battles. The second half of the book is more a travelogue, detailing a trip he and his wife made to Yap Island, a small, tropical Pacific locale where the inhabitants have a large, spherical stone currency named rai. Throughout both sections we are privy to charming and eclectic flourishes, including William Shakespeare writing comically verbose collections letters, carousing Polish tourists, and the exaggerated adventures of the Irish Capt. David O'Keefe.

This book was a cerebral pleasure, with a great amount of thought going into the illustrations, a combination of photographs, painting, digital writing, and linework, as well as the multiple approaches to pondering the uses and effects of money, both real and imagined, on people's lives. Reviews I have seen online are largely positive. Marci Swank offered her opinion, "The illustrations highlight the great comic drawing skills Campbell has, which help to depict the meaning behind the words, as well as adding humor to the story." James Smart summed it up as "a quirky, vibrant graphic novel." Kirkus Reviews' Jenna Crispin offered a more measured review, saying about the book, "It has immense charm, but it’s a little thin."

There is a preview and much more information available here from the publisher.

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