The recently started blogs of Paul Pope and Eddie Campbell are enough to make you think they have taken on new careers. Both are prodigious bloggers. Certainly both are among the most well-defined personas in the comics world, although as long-time self-publishing graphic novelists, they share more of a common background than you might think.
Pope has been blogging about all sorts of stuff — Balzac’s views on Rossini’s coffee intake, European cartoonists and his own “disturbing sex dreams”. Today he looked at Alex Toth’s infamous critique of Steve Rude, and mentioned his own correspondence with Toth.
He would redraw my own panel compositions on the backs of the pages to illustrate how he would’ve laid out a particular scene, how it could all be done so much better and more economically. Each bloodied stack of xeroxes was accompanied by a long, urgent handwritten letter saying in substance what he is saying here to Steve– THINK BETTER, WORK HARDER, YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS!
These letters were like rocket fuel, or a telescope. Each time I read and re-read them I kept discovering new dimentions of meaning. Each one came in a plain white envelope with a funny little duck scribbled on the side, usually with a blue felt-tip pen. After about three years of this, Toth abruptly told me at the end of one of his letters, literally, “Okay, kid! I’ve had a bellyful of you! I’ve done all I can. Come back when you have something worth showing me!” And that was it.
I never wrote him or sent him anything again. I know he’s seen my work over the years but as far as his parting words go, nothing I have done has lived up to that challenge.
Campbell’s blog is more discursive, a good yarn spun from the everyday. Lots of groovy pictures like this one of him, a magenta-haireed Melinda Gebbie and some comics writer. The other day he explained how he was drawing FROM HELL while babysitting his young daughter, Hayley, who set up her own drawing table next to his.
The child had shown her talents quite early. During a visit from my old friend Daniel Grey esq. the child sought to emulate the attractive illustrations upon his arms, by copying in blue inks upon her own arms the hearts and roses, the proclamations of love and other mementoes. The wife, on returning from her day of drudgery and finding the two men full of alcoholic beverages, charged the errant husband with having drawn upon the child for his own misguided amusement. “I don’t like you drawing on Hayley while I’m at work!” were the specifics of her accusation. And I narrate this epidsode in order to show the level of ability in the child’s work, that it should have passed so easily for that of the father.
Certainly you could do worse than to make Pope and Campbell regular breakfast companions in the RSS feed of life.