Monday, 7 October 2013

Limited Edition Beer Steins

Cerebus #224 (November 1997)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from a conversation with Alan Moore in Dialogue From Hell, Cerebus #217, April 1997)
...When I visited that Scots bastard Eddie Campbell (it really does take one to know one), we were both into our cups one afternoon and he started in on your scripts. You know, he would just get Anne to go through them and underline what had to be in the panel and bollocks to all your windy exposition. Having read a number of your scripts, I pointed out that you were always very good about letting the artist know that a lot of the description was for your benefit and could be used or not used as it suited him or her (hi, Melinda). Well, Eddie was having none of it and goes into his studio and roots out one of your scripts and begins a dramatic reading of one of your lengthier descriptions. Or undramatic reading, rather, by way of emphasising his own point. So, Eddie’s sitting in the kitchen droning your description, and I’m sitting on the postage-stamp-sized back porch (Campbell Enter-prises being a smoke-free environment) facing into the kitchen. Now, having just read a hundred or so pages of From Hell in photocopy form, I am as immersed in 1888 London as I’m ever likely to be, anyway, and I start disappearing mentally and psychically into your description. With Eddie droning and droning it begins to envelop me like an incantation, and I begin rocking back and forth on the white plastic kitchen chair I’m sitting on, thoroughly inside of your word-rhythms and invocations, simultaneously resentful of the sneer on the old Campbell mug and anticipating the good-natured or not-so-good-natured (both of us being Scots bastards) row that is imminent as a result of our divergent reactions. Something had to give, and it turned out to be the chair I was sitting on. One leg snaps off pitching me over backwards and hurling one of Eddie’s prized, limited-edition Guinness glass steins out of my hand - the stein bounces neatly down a half-dozen stairs before smashing into a million fragments. Of course, I’m apologising all over the place, and Eddie is crestfallen. They don’t make the glass steins anymore, do I have any idea how many Guinness he had to drink to get each one of them (as if THAT was some torturous ordeal for him), etc., etc. He had had six of them (six being the number of the Lovers in the tarot —and what else, metaphorically speaking, is the even-handed balance of a writer and artist than a literary/artistic love affair?), and now he had five (the number of the Hierophant, interpreter of arcane wisdom, which in its negative aspect is epitomised by the imposition of said interpretation without the accompanying wisdom). Served him right, I actually thought. Served him bloody well right...


Tony Dunlop said...

Two thoughts:
1. It's pages like this one that remind me how brilliant the layouts, lettering, etc. could be after Issue 200. Just gob-smacking stuff.
2. After a while I stopped reading the text that came after the story (like, after it started being at least as many pages as the story itself) so I had never read this particular anecdote. Thanks!

Jeff Seiler said...

Oh, man, Tony, do yourself a favor and go back and reread all of that Dialogue From Hell. Almost as fascinating as the seven-part essay, "Islam, My Islam". And, yes, you're quite right about the layout and lettering going all "off the reservation", post-200.