Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Eddie Campbell: Dave Sim, Self-Publishing & Surviving

The Lovely Horrible Stuff (Top Shelf, 2012)
by Eddie Campbell
EDDIE CAMPBELL:
(from the interview at Inkstuds Radio, 23 October 2012)
...My generation are becoming cranky, impossible people - Dave Sim, Alan Moore - it's just an inevitability, as you get older you get out of sorts with the world...

...comics-people are funny. I'm following this argument that Dave Sim's having over there at The Comics Journal, there’s this kind of completist attitude in the comics community. Everybody always wants to start from the beginning. If they can't get issue one, they’re not interested. You can always sell a bundle of issue one, but you never sell an issue two. Nobody wants it...

...I always tried to avoid that trap of the long series. It seems insane to me to attempt a work that's 6,000 pages - how long is Cerebus? 6,000 pages? What's he thinking in this day and age, in this age of the short attention span. It seems to be suicide to create something that only makes sense if you've read the previous 5,000 pages, don't you think?...

...I think he's done books which are among the best books of the graphic novel years. I think Jaka's Story is a wonderful book. It was the actually the first Cerebus book that I read from beginning to end, and I didn't feel that I needed to know anything that went before it, I was happy... in fact I find it very difficult to read the stuff that went before that. I think if he's reprinting it, he should start with that. Put that out as a self-contained, single thing, and then maybe the F Scott Fitzgerald one [Going Home] as well...

...It was the best thing I ever did. I've always been thankful that [Dave Sim] talked me in to [self-publishing]. It was hugely successful for me. It was a great idea. I just needed the courage to step over the threshold into it. I had a great 7 or 8 years where it was the most successful period of my entire career. The only reason I got out of that was because we've arrived at a stage in 2002 where you couldn't really depend on the direct market anymore, or exclusively, to be successful anymore. By being successful, I mean making enough to keep going. My measure of success is - I don't ask much of the world - I would just like to make enough to keep going. That would be my measure of success. I realise others set the bar much higher than that. They would like enough money to buy a house or a car or whatever. I would just like to have enough to keep going and do another book. That would be success for me. For 7 or 8 years I was successful beyond my dreams, especially when we put the From Hell book out at the end of 1999. But there came a point a couple of years later that it was now necessary to deal with the book store distribution to stay afloat and that is much, much more complicated. You need twice as much knowledge to float in that field as I find that you do in the direct market...

...surviving in the business... It's insane! It's insane trying to publish comic books year after year. What you need to know is just insane... I had to get out of the publishing game. It's not that I couldn't handle it, it’s just that I didn't see what was coming. I found myself stepping in these bear traps. I felt that if I was paying attention I would have seen them in the path ahead and I didn't. I thought it was best that I get back to just making the books and let somebody else - you know, Chris Staros [Top Shelf] - worry about the traps and the pitfalls... and the weather!... and all the things that change from week to week you need to be thinking about a lot to survive...

Eddie Campbell is best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore on the epic graphic novel From Hell; his irreverent and wine-soaked series Bacchus, which revives the Greek gods in a sprawling, unpredictable, entertaining thousand-page epic; and the autobiographical series Alec, which has earned him the reputation as one of the great raconteurs in the medium of comics.

1 comment:

Mateor said...

Going Home is tip-top. I was honestly surprised at Kim for taking such a hard-line stance. Once he made it clear he wanted all or nothing, that topic became a farce.

Going Home and Form and Void would have made a great collection. But I am happy with my phone books, personally. I would have loved to see the work thrust into some new hands, though...

Point is, Eddie is right on. Going Home was just about pefect. I have a 3 by 6 ft stretched canvas with F.Stop sitting on the rum barrel hanging in my kitchen.