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ALEC: The Years Have Pants (A Life-Size Omnibus)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2010
Some of his work is truly wonderful, and some is mediocre at best. Beyond that, I won't discuss the material in detail. You wouldn't be considering buying this book if you weren't already a fan of Campbell's work.

I can say it's great to have so much of his material in one place, and even at the hardcover price it is cheaper than buying all of his books separately.

I can also say that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the book itself. For example, it is not cloth bound or fancy, but instead has a very simple, no frills binding. It is simple, but solid, and stands out well among the other books on my shelf.

I was also expecting a book this thick to have thin pages, slightly better than newsprint. Instead, the pages are luxuriantly thick, allowing Campbell's simple artwork to really stand out.

If the folks at Top Shelf happen to read this review, please, please put something like this together for Glenn Dakin's comics as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2010
Taking its cue from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock--"I grow old, I wear the bottom of my trousers rolled"--Alec: "The Years Have Pants" knows we change our pants from time to time, and how we do so details how we make our way through life. It's also the title of the new story that ends this massive compendium collecting Eddie Campbell's (almost complete) catalog of biographical comics works.

Campbell first began drawing his autobiographical comics back in the `70s. To protect the identity of his friends and family, he gave everyone a different name--including himself ("Alec MacGarry"). Alec has stood in for Eddie even since, as Campbell has continued through multiple publishers and multiple venues of his life. All of them (except for The Fate of the Artist, which is still in print from First Second) are found in Alec: "The Years Have Pants".

Today, it's a matter of course to see a comic biography. Comics memoirs are almost a dime a dozen, it seems. But that shouldn't negate the pure joy of experiencing a true master of the form explore the full range of its possibilities, from the mundane to the extraordinary. It's interesting to watch an intelligent, well-thought-out man delve into the ups and downs of his own life with care.

Campbell is a comics veteran, so he peppers his tales with stories of the growth of the industry itself (the mid-`80s burst that sees Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, and others exploding with greatness coincides with the birth of Alec's first child, a nice parallel that Campbell doesn't miss out on).

The bottom line is this: If you want to see what a master of comics memoir does at the top of his form, Alec: "The Years Have Pants" is the book to read. Its 600 pages are a revelation of humanity.

-- John Hogan
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I am a big fan of autobiographical graphic novels. I think they appeal to me because of the way they can personalize an experience with the truth of a diary or journal while still allowing the author to stylize the narrative to present multiple layers of meaning and impression. Excellent examples of this genera include works by Chester Brown, James Kochalka (the “American Elf” series), Derf (“Punk Rock and Trailer Parks” and “My Friend Dahmer”), Harvey Pekar (“American Splendor”), Guy Delisle (“Shenzhen,” “Burma Chronicles,” “Pyongyang” and “Jerusalem”), and Jeffrey Brown. Now I can Eddie Campbell and his terrific “Alec – ‘The Years Have Pants’” to this treasured list.

In “Alec,” Eddie Campbell compiles decades of his autobiographical works in one volume, from his young bachelor days as a Scottish member of the wild King Canute bar crowd in Great Britain, where he scrapes out a meager existence in a manual labor metalworking job. He dates, hones his artistic craft, and begins a journey of self-discovery. We follow him through marriage, children, and the world of self-publishing to see him emerge a mature family man and reasonably-famous artist based in Australia. We even get behind the scenes stories of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and other famous writers and artists he comes in contact with. Through it all Eddie Campbell, through his alter ego Alec MacGarry, shares with us the ups and downs, through good drawings and hurried, the real and the surreal. Most of all, however, we share with him the honesty of life that he unfailingly paints on each page. There is very little self-importance here. We get the randomness and seeming irrelevance of the day-to-day through the colorful yet very real characters that flow through Alec’s life.

I have the hard bound edition from Top Shelf and it is wonderful. The spare, no-nonsense artwork on the cover and spine goes perfectly in tone with the gorgeous black and white drawings inside. The paper is heavy and displays the ink well. We even get bonus material in the back of the book. The whole project is well-realized, done in the right way, and I am glad to display it in my home. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2010
Campbell's finest piece of work is himself. The Alec project which he has been pursuing for three decades is nothing less than the distillation of a life into a work of art. Not just the amazing events or encounters with the luminaries of his world, Campbell has delineated the true glories of a life in all of its glorious mess, a domestic fugue punctuated by bright notes of celebrities drawn into his composition. Never dazzled by another's brilliance but always admiring, he has composed an appreciation of those who have influenced him, those he admires amongst his contemporaries, and the people he loves just because they're there is his world. This is a work utterly bereft of pretension. It is a work of the most utter honesty, an honesty so keenly felt that you feel elated with the author in his joys and wretched when he is miserable. Lyrical, anarchic, beautiful: this is a book that should be read and savoured and reflected upon. This is a rare and magnificent work that deserves your undivided attention.
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on March 1, 2014
My first book of this type I thought graphic novels were always about super heroes, dark villains or other things that don't grip my imagination. Alec is about the human soul and how it developed in this man from a young drifter at the King Canute tavern to a fully involved artist and father. A great sense of play, beautiful intricate illustrations and a whole lot of authentic human emotion. What's not to love?
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on March 20, 2013
There are some books that makes me nervous when they are not accessible on my shelfs. I may not read them often, but - like a dear friend - I need to know they are available if the need for them arrive. The Years Have Pants is one such book. It's funny, with a philosophical bent and gives me hope that life can be better.
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on February 3, 2013
Todo a sido perfecto. Ha llegado antes de lo previsto y en perfectas condiciones. No tengo ninguna queja, muy al contrario.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2011
At nearly 700 pages, you have to be a pretty interesting and unique person to hold a reader's interest in your daily comings and goings. For the most part, I found Campbell's "life-story" only mildly engaging--his artwork, however, I found continually appealing, mainly on account of the variation of his style, not only from comic to comic, but often from panel to panel. His work can have an unfinished febrile sketch quality to it, a polished, "professional" illustration look, and anything and everything in between.

Really, you don't need to read any more of this review. In fact, Im inclined to delete the rest of it, but since I already wrote it, I cant seem to force myself to erase the tracks of my ruminations, if, for no other reason, that it would force me to double-back over the ground which I've already trod with the delete key...and I fear that, having erased those tracks, I may find myself compelled to make them again! You've been warned.

And yet here you still are. Please, don't blame me.

The problem with the autobiographical comic is this: if you resemble a normal human being, your story isnt that much different--or more interesting--than anyone else's. Why does a reader need to be bothered about your friends, your lovers, your quotidian life dramas when he or she has their own to absorb their attention? I mean, you have to be pretty darn bored with your own life to be interested in the minutiae of some stranger's boring life. And if you find parallels between your boring life and their boring life does that really make it any more interesting? Is it distracting and/or comforting to find other people's lives as pointless and boring as yours? Arent you now really just doubly bored? Why, I'm bored just having had to write the above few sentences. Aren't you bored having read them? Would you be interested in seeing drawings of me having written them? Or getting up, as I did in the middle of writing this review, to fix myself a hot chocolate? Are you interested in seeing a comic of me going to the supermarket as I'm going to have to do in a few minutes to pick up some more yogurt for dinner? Would you be interested in seeing a drawing of me talking on the phone to my mother?

Now if, let's say, Aleister Crowley or William Burroughs or Charles Manson, to name a few, were to write an autobiographical comic, *that* would be interesting. People who's lives and perceptions are really wacked out, they would make interesting subjects for autobiographical comics. But the sort of "warts-and-all" autobiographical comic where only a few carefully chosen warts are shown, only so many so as not to altogether disgust and alienate the reader while surreptitiously garnering his or her sympathy, such as "Alec" and it's legion of imitators are wont to do, too often seems an exercise in self-justification.

From what I understand, "Alec", like Pekar's "American Splendor" is considered to be one of the great monoliths of autobiographical comics and, as such, it deserves a place of honor in the history of the genre. But so many have come down the pike since then that "Alec" is somewhat diluted by all its subsequent imitators. Cant we say "enough already"? Can't we say that unless you're a real unadulterated unapologetic jerk and willing to expose yourself at your inhuman human worst don't bother writing an autobiographical comic?

But back, if only momentarily, to "Alec." Where this collection is strongest is where Campbell moves beyond strictly autobiographical themes, like when he deals with the challenges of pursuing the artistic life or when he tries to draw the history of humor. Or when he deals with his fear of mortality or his nagging, and apparently well-founded, suspicion that he drinks too much. When he waxes, in other words, philosophical.

All in all, in spite of all my caveats, its a good book. You can tell, I hope, that I respect it and it's author. It's also a heavy book. My arm must have grown about three extra inches lugging it around over the last two weeks. It must weigh about 65 pounds, even in paperback! If you buy it, may I also suggest you purchase a little hand-pulled wagon to carry it around on your travels? Or a llama. Or, better yet, both.
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2 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2011
Whilst there is very nearly nothing in the writing of this book; it must be added that the pict's aren't up to much either. The only purpose these sketchy messes could possibly serve is to imply that the writer's on drugs (which he isn't).

But it's also worth noting that it's not so bad it's good, either -- even if in parts it seems to be trying to be, as it ceilings out at a post-modern level, taking (and "quoting") the over-trodden jaded path to 'cool', as though you won't notice (because he's in print and you're just a reader) that the exact same thing and nothing more has been being done for so long it's not funny!
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