I was in the final stages of serious deadline fever for Laika when The Independent on Sunday, a national UK newspaper, called. They were doing a comics special and all their usual features were to be illustrated by cartoonists instead of the usual photography. They needed a quick turnaround, but it wasn't like I had any spare time anyway so we agreed I'd do the job in one day. I was assigned 'Food and Drink' and accompanied an esteemed chef, Skye Gyngell and her food buyer Wendy down to a cookery school in Sussex where they cooked with one of their culinary heroines, the legendary Rose Gray. I filled a sketchbook and when I got home, scanned the best drawings and coloured them for the feature.
In a way, I fulfilled the same role a photographer usually would, but I didn't have time to distill the resulting images into a coherent story of any sort. It was a different sort of illustration and approach from the kind I usually take, but fun to do. Plus I got to eat some amazing food. Here, then, are some drawings from that day...
Apparently the trailer is slow to load, a little too bulky. We're working on that.
COMING THIS SPRING: one of the most beautiful graphic novels in existence. One of the most romantic. And one of the funniest.
Did anyone notice that PW Comics Week in their end-of-the-year staff picks totally snubbed the French? No mention of Deogratias? No mention of Joann Sfar or Lewis Trondheim, even in the extensive "honorable mentions"? Did Bill O'Reilly get to them?
Anyway, THIS ONE -- there's no way they can ignore.
Lauren Wohl, who is one of First Second's publishers as well as the marketing goddess, just sent the following lovely Sardine moment:
Sitting in the Orlando airport, waiting to meet a colleague, surrounded by families carrying oversized stuffed Plutos, sporting Mickey backpacks, and wearing Minnie tee-shirts... I have half an hour, a cup of Starbucks, and two copies of SARDINE IN OUTER SPACE in my bag. A French family sits down on the well-worn (okay, fraying) chairs near me. Dad (who speaks English), Mom, 12-year-old son, and 9-year-old son. The younger boy is reading a Garfield comic book.
I take out a copy of SARDINE and start reading. Dad's eyes light up. "Joann Sfar?" he asks me.
"Oui." I nod. And then, to be sure he doesn't think I can actually speak any more French than that, " Yes. I work for the publisher of these books in the United States."
"Sfar is brilliant," Dad tells me. "Very famous.'
The yougest son is listening intently, and hasn't taken his eyes off the book in my hands. I close it and give it to him. He does not wait even a moment before he opens it.
"It's in English," I tell him
His turn to nod.
"Do you read English?"
He is already reading. But slowly. It's maybe ten minutes before he turns the page. It's another ten minutes before he looks up.
He offers me his Garfield comic. A trade. I tell him no. "Keep Sardine. A gift. No need to give me Garfield."
But he insists. I accept his terms. And leave one happy young fellow to enjoy meeting Sardine and adventuring with her as he flies home, and she keeps the world safe.
(Sardine 3 comes out Spring 07)
CAMPBELL: There must have been a terrific demand for Kampung Boy over the years. I wonder if you can tell us how many copies of it have sold all together since it was first published in 1979?
LAT: I can’t tell you off hand the total number....it had gone through the 11th reprint a couple of years ago..
CAMPBELL: They made an animated series of the Kampung Boy for television a few years ago. Can you tell us a little about that. Did it live up to your expectations?
LAT: In the 1990’s Malaysia launched its own satellite TV station ....and I wanted to get in touch with the most important audience of all--- the toddlers. Measat (Malaysia East Asia Satellite TV) offered me to do this made-for-TV Kampung Boy animated series that would appeal to the pre-school and primary school kids. I came out with story ideas....to develop them we worked in a big team. So it was the work of a very big production team.
CAMPBELL: My favorite of all your books is without a doubt Town Boy, the follow up to Kampung Boy. It was a book about your teenage years, very funny but also so poignant in places, in its accounts of first girl friends and partings from boyhood pals. I wonder if you are more fond of this work which sits a little in the shadow of the more famous Kampung Boy?
LAT: Town Boy was about growing up as a teenager in Ipoh (where I have come back to... in my semi-retirement days)...The teenager discovered new very exciting things....I learned a second language...and I understood what was said and sung on the radio....I Wanna Hold Your Hand...I heard this Western girl singing “I Will Follow Him”....how cheeky...and I wondered how a girl could go a post office to mail a parcel to answer the call of her boyfriend who said please “Send Me The Pillow That You Dreamed On”...
I made new pals and they were Chinese, Indians and Eurasians...we’d meet at our rendezvous - either the Rex or Lido cinema....We saw the cheap matinee re-run movie about David Niven going around the world...his assistant (Passepartout) rode a very funny bicycle with one huge wheel...we laughed...my young brother Rahman and I laughed so hard till there were tears in our eyes....I was very happy because I still had some coins in my trouser pocket and later we’d play one song at the juke box...the song was about a new dance called the Mash Potato...the name of the singer was quite easy to remember....D D Sharp...And I had money given by my mom to buy my drawing papers, dipping pens and black ink...
I’d pay mom her money back because the sixties also saw me drawing for the entertainment magazines and newspapers...I made a lot of pocket money from cartoons in the newspapers on monthly basis...I was 17...Beatles were singing Hey Jude...Cowboy movies were getting sophisticated...They even had Burt Bacharach writing the score...Town Boy were the days before I moved to the capital city to venture into life as an adult....and later a professional doodler . Yipee!
CAMPBELL: I noticed you returned to the subject of the Kampung in 1993 with Kampung Boy Yesterday and Today. The modern sequences were done in lovely watercolours. I wonder what you think of the technological advances in publishing since ’93, with computers and all. I see they’ve made a font out of your hand-lettering for instance. And do you send your art to the paper or book publisher now on disc or even email? I wonder what the boy in the Kampung would have thought if he could have foreseen it all?
LAT: Anybody would end up writing like me if they’re writing in a hurry.....I don’t do much coloring any more...if I do I’d use water-color or felt-tipped marker pens...I only use the computer to look at my e-mail....My wife Faezah helps me scan my drawings and e-mail them to the newspaper office in far-off Kuala Lumpur.
Hey, hey, hey... It just appeared somehow in the hours of the night: click above for the brand new BLACK DIAMOND DETECTIVE AGENCY trailer... Yes, that's right. From the look of this, you might think Campbell has gone Hollywood for this next project, but that would be underestimating the author of FATE OF THE ARTIST, wouldn't it?
Those who know Eddie Campbell at all already suspect all this may not be as it seems...