Alec: “The Years Have Pants” (A Life-Sized Omnibus)
Written & Illustrated by Eddie Campbell
Published by Top Shelf
If you’ve not read Eddie Campbell’s Alec stories, this book is perfect for you, as you’ll be almost entirely caught up with just one tome. If you are a reader, you’ll get a new story along with some other odds and ends, and you’ll get most of the Alec tales under a single cover. In a well-designed, sturdy, and quite heavy brick of a book.
Alec, if you’re unaware, is Eddie Campbell. So Alec is, thinly veiled, an autobiographical comic. It’s also the on the short list of contenders for the best autobiographical comic. Actually, you can forget the comic part – it’s among the best autobiographies. No navel-gazing here, reader. Eddie Campbell’s a visionary, and Alec: “The Years Have Pants” (A Life-Sized Omnibus) collects the many facets of his own narrative: youthful adventures in and around the pub, marriage and children, relocating to the opposite side of the planet, anecdotes about the behind-the-scenes comic book business, and Campbell’s own philosophies on creativity, wine tasting and family.
Wryly funny and mischievous, Campbell’s voice leaves you slightly unsure how seriously to consider the basic facts of any particular narrative, but you’ll certainly be entertained. And his intellectual bents and philosophical insights also provide lots of ideas to turn over in your mind when you should probably be sleeping.
The pen and ink artwork captures the most mundane details and the most outlandish daydreams with equal aplomb. The overall effect mixes gritty realism (though not as ink-heavy as From Hell) with sketchy unreality. Straightforward nine-panel grids keep each anecdote clear and precise, allowing even the most virgin comics reader to jump right in, and his hand-lettering, though often sloppy, enhances the personal vision of the world Campbell unfolds to his readers.
Alec: “The Years Have Pants” (A Life-Sized Omnibus) stands tall as one of the most essential comics for any reader’s library. This book is life, in all its sordid, surreal, unlikely, confusing, hilarious and beautiful glory, and nobody’s ever captured it quite as remarkably or believably as Eddie Campbell.