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January 13, 2006



Diary of an author, waiting. Part 1

In the field of the graphic novel a new attitude has grown up over the last twenty-five years. We tend to think now in terms of comics for the bookshelf. At first the artist used the available machinery of the monthly periodicals, serializing his ambitious narrative in parts, with a view to collecting them between two covers later. There are even a few, that I would number among the great graphic novels, that never got assembled together for one reason or another. And due to the vicissitudes of the publishing business, there are even one or two that never got finished.

Eventually the successful author in this field finds himself (or herself of course, but I’m really talking about myself, Eddie Campbell, here) in the position, like successful authors in the realm of the literature generally, of being commissioned to create a work that is all of a piece, to deliver his so called graphic novel all at the same time, without serialisation in parts. Now he finds himself in the unexpected role of the recluse. It’s a new experience for him.

Removed from a regimen of monthly publication and the rigmarole of conducting a readers letters page and other sociable activities, he inhabits his own hollow head, with its reverberating echoes. The emails dry up: somebody offering him the jackrabbit vibrator… can he use more length… minimize his mortgage… somebody in Africa has got six million dollars for him...

The doubts start to arrive. What was he thinking, doing such a complicated book? Why did he go so far out on a limb? He has revealed to much of himself in this one. It’s too much of an open nerve, all this real pain and joy. The Fate of the Artist, indeed. Why didn’t he pick up another superhero job, like his quaint, odd little version of a Batman book of two years ago. That would have been much safer

His editor, Siegel tries to put him at ease by telling him the book looks splendid. What? Siegel has an advance copy? He cajoles and wheedles and coaxes Siegel into sending him the one advance airmail copy.

Now the author is the only person in the world who has one, as the rest will still be some time coming from Hong Kong and even then it won’t be released until April. What if they never arrive? What if they all go down to the bottom of the sea?.

The author gets his book out again. He admires it. Tears of happiness come to his eye. At last his eye falls upon the one typo. He convinces himself he is a crushed failure. This too passes.

Days go by. He admires his book again. The only copy in the world. The author begins to imagine that he has entered into some ‘vanity publishing’ arrangement.


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