The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell

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The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The book to make you ricker in details about money in Eddie Campbell's life and elsewhere, in expensive-looking multimedia cartoon form.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: July 2012
Publisher: Knockabout/Top Shelf Productions
ISBN: 9781603091527

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Money, in amongst all the cliched things it does, makes for peciluar detail for a graphic novelist like Eddie Campbell to include in a book about it. He has to make himself a company to qualify for creating a Batman strip to earn it, and has to pay $4 to buy $1 to draw (- then claim the tax back on the purchase to save himself some of it). It causes friction when his daughter earns too much, and when his wife's dad spends too much in a legal pursuit to have more. In the second half of this book it causes a journalistic piece of non-fiction as he takes a look at Pacific islanders who used man-sized stone discs as currency.

The style of the first half will be familiar to anyone having read his Alec books. His scratchy lettering above pictures in a plain 3x3 grid is enlivened by the way he can dash from fact to fiction to fantasy and back again, all on one page. I noted bits of this that could have come from the pages of Alec: The Years Have Pants, as it borrows his personal mythology and terminology, but I guess it is self-contained and is only awkward inasmuch as his handwritten lettering and seemingly quickly-drawn, sketchy illustrations are.

However there is one big difference between this and Alec, in that we have here got full colour. This allows for his artwork to overlay photographs, and incorporate much more detail and even more vigour than usual. This comes to the fore when part two shows us the awkwardly-reached island of Yap and the stone coins there. Black and white would just not do the real world reportage justice.

I sense too an improvement over Alec, despite it being a mere continuation at times. This comes down to the subject matter being more concise than Campbell's own life and loves and work, and the end product perhaps intended to be a book more cohesive than the at-times random 'write about everything and see if any of it'll stick' approach of before. Let's face it, money is more precious to us than autobiography, and the contents of this match that. Yes, it is flighty, self-interested and singular, and no it fails to edify with as much clarity as the cover blurb suggests, but the multi-media artwork appeals, and a more coherent Campbell is a better Campbell. So yes, money should change hands for this.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

For more Pacific travelogues in graphic novel form, we enjoy Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. Very different books about money and its making and spending can be had with our Category:Business and Finance section.

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Buy The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell at


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