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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a keeper!
Eddie Campbell has been producing graphic novels for 25 years--for adults. At first glance, you see a wide variety of art styles used to tell a story.

In The Fate of the Artist, the author conducts an investigation into his own sudden disappearance. He puts words in the mouth of friends and even his dog, using photos, comics, illustrations and yellowed...
Published on May 23, 2006 by Armchair Interviews

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Art for the Artist
THE FATE OF THE ARTIST might be marvelously significant for Eddie Campbell or for anyone sufficiently obsessed with his work, but it doesn't do much of anything at all for the casual literary consumer. The art is intriguing, and the form is DEFINITELY worth a second (and even third) glancing, but Campbell doesn't seem to have even attempted to broach anything insightful...
Published 20 months ago by Brandon


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a keeper!, May 23, 2006
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This review is from: The Fate of the Artist (Paperback)
Eddie Campbell has been producing graphic novels for 25 years--for adults. At first glance, you see a wide variety of art styles used to tell a story.

In The Fate of the Artist, the author conducts an investigation into his own sudden disappearance. He puts words in the mouth of friends and even his dog, using photos, comics, illustrations and yellowed newspaper comics.

Quirky. Very quirky, but very interesting format and diverse styles that appealed to the closet artist in me.

I was laughing out loud on page 1, giggled through most of the book because of the fun uses of unique ways to fill a page with everything needed to tell a darn good story--including typeface oddities, cartoon characters, etc.

For example: The artist disappeared and left a drawing--not a note. The investigating detective said, "Not much of a drawing if he makes his living as an artist," to which the reply, "What are you? A detective or a critic?"

Another place one character said: I found myself stepping backward down the ladder of opportunity.

This is a book I'll carry with me for when I am waiting, and especially when I need a good laugh and something to think about other than "why am I waiting here?"

Armchair Interviews says: The Fate of the Artist feels like a keeper, like something one would collect for its humor, message, beauty and uniqueness--so don't ask to borrow it. Adult fun without adult responsibilities.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Smartest Man in Comics, May 18, 2007
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This review is from: The Fate of the Artist (Paperback)
A pleasure to read. This book is a very clever and very funny piece of autobiography and formal (as in "form over function" not "fancy") experimentation.

I was dubious about Campbell going color, especially since he seems to favor a washed-out "dirty paintbox" palette. The excerpts I saw on the web were underwhelming, but it looks great on the page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant, idiosyncratic work by Eddie Campbell, February 18, 2012
This review is from: The Fate of the Artist (Paperback)
-----------------------------------------------------
The Fate Of The Artist"
Written & Illustrated by Eddie Campbell
(First Second, 2006)
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This is another brilliant, idiosyncratic work by Eddie Campbell, the genre-busting Scottish/Australian cartoonist responsible for such works as "Alec," "Bacchus" and "From Hell." In this sweet, short volume, Campbell creates a made-up mystery about his own disappearance, which intertwines with cockeyed reflections on art, myth and creativity. He explores the autodidactic intellectualism that fueled earlier works, and brings in a more overtly autobiographical element - as always, Campbell comes off as the sort of guy you'd like to hang out with at the pub: he talks your ear off, but always has something interesting to say. Recommended! (DJ Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain book reviews)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Evolution of the Artist, February 22, 2007
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Campbell's previous Alec endeavors- I won't dare to broach any term classifying medium, involve Eddie Campbell first and foremost, and his supporting cast second. It's the nature of autobiography to focus chiefly on the individual writing it, and the supporting cast only in relation to the main character. Fate of the Artist, though, doesn't involve Eddie Campbell's presence at all. The character focus of the book, salvageable as it is, showcases his family life, and the quirky domestic tension that living with an artist produces.

Surprisingly, amidst all the experimental storytelling Campbell uses, Fate of the Artist is a funny book before it approaches any of the "collective human wisdom" literature enriches that Campbell cherishes in a comics journal interview. The titular protagonist arranges his CD's neurotically in chronological order, after replacing the standard CD labels with his own uniform slips of paper scrawling geometric location and composer only. And even then, he compulsively checks to ensure the order is maintained when rushing around his house looking for his passport. Needless to say, the effect of the artist's idiosyncrasies weighs heavily on the family.

This is best seen in the fumetti section showcasing Eddie Campbell's actual daughter, Hayley (those artists, always coming up with crazy spellings of normal names) Campbell, as seen in the legal indicia. The tone towards the artist in the interview, however, is not mere toleration of his neurosis, but love despite. Even though Hayley's eyes constantly shift, and her posture alternates between apathetic and interested, she bemusedly tells the story of how her crayon drawings as a kid were used to evoke God, as well as Campbell's workspace being the unused end of the dining room table. She reminds me of one of the iconic characters mentioned in the beginning, the spunky Lolita, in her escaped freedom from an oppressive domestic situation, at least as superficially as Campbell himself reminds me of Svengali, and I'm assuming as much as Mrs. Malaprop would remind someone of Alec's wife.

Of course, what good would the autobiography of an artist be without samples of his art? Campbell provides this in newspaper strips illuminating various aspects of his fictional autobiographical life: his family situation in "Honeybee," his daughter's implied rebellion in "Angry Cook," and his sense of humor in "Theatricals." They jut in the plotline often as a reminder of the artist's work, but aren't very good by themselves. The humor isn't humorous, and the emotions much better explored in the graphic novel, a representative of the artist's life. But the strip's evocation of a time and place at the expense of honest emotional exploration seems to be the point in a main character who despises his art and his life.

The interlude, then, makes a lot of sense. A ghost cartoonist covers Alec's missing days and weeks with strips, and the result is art that isn't terribly different from what's gone on before. The only striking difference is the presence of a new strip, "Monty the Dog," that suffers the same non-humor of the other strips. More subtly, though, the "Theatricals" strip concerns a teenage problem, whereas before Alec highlights the ridiculousness of his life around him. The "Honeybee" strip shows the lead characters outside, interacting and commenting on other people whereas Alec concerned the strip mostly with the annoyances of domestic life. "Angry Cook" even has a new (to the reader) roommate compounding her problems instead of her appliances causing problems, although there's still the trouble of spaghetti. There's no obtrusive point the interlude struggles to convey, but the subtle subversion of the strip is a remarkable feat for Campbell.

The next odd piece of the work's multi-media puzzle is the text narrating the plot. Campbell begins each page using an item, be it bottle, nut, or artificially heightened high heel shoe. Here, he's explicitly using his everyday items to make his art instead of the tacit utilization he subjects us to in any other part.

The prose is, for the most part, first person from the point of view of the detectives searching for the artist lost in other people's works, and works to maintain the playful atmosphere in which Campbell relishes. However, the prose is never given large enough room to develop, and acts mostly as a transporter of the project to its more exotic locales, the loveliest of which is Campbell's comics, drafted with a beautiful disregard for detail and solid lines, but capturing the curves of people and locations perfectly. This is also, besides the cause for many deliciously well researched historical digressions, the location of many hilarious family stories, although many of the latter are caused by the former.

Campbell has a preoccupation with other artists. An undercurrent running throughout the work, the historical digressions begin to reveal where Campbell disappeared to. The lucky devil, he's been inside art, ensconced! Unfortunately, he's been trolling in his own work; surely a poor place for one to find anything of value, and his prison is his retelling of his own life, not even someone else's life story. The escape happened the morning after he awakes "with the disquieting feeling that all ahs gone wrong." He begins to despise his art and self, almost interchangeable in this case, and so he fashions this graphic novel.

All of this culminates in the author's genuine appearance in the work, and he still isn't himself, acting out O. Henry's short story Confession of a Humorist. The story portrays a humorist that begins mining his life for his art and both begin to suffer, so he decides to stop being a humorist. The vintage has all been squeezed out, anyways. Campbell playing the lead part could lead to a reading of the book as a rueful excommunication from art, as but in the historical digressions, people act out parts they aren't entirely suited for as well, from some guy off the street being H. H. Fowler to Siegrist playing Eddie Campbell. People in the story play as many parts as Campbell changes styles, making any character in the book a possible victim of being lost in another character's work, and Campbell discovers the key to art by experiencing O. Henry's short story by showing his intimate relation to the titular humorist. Campbell literally places himself in art to find meaning in it instead of placing himself in art to create meaning, and the incensed soliloquy performed by Siegrist before this story's retelling reveals Campbell's metamorphosis that occurred during the project: he's picked up and thrown by undiluted artistic expression, a children's crayon drawing, or God, whichever euphemism you prefer, and hurled towards the vision of life as paper-clipped together watercolors, and Campbell wants his readers to accomplish the same feat of interpreting meaning from a chaotic jumble.

Look at the cover again, propping Campbell up with his differing styles, then look at the back cover. This Alec isn't real at all, but only a wooden construct, reducing everything to an exposed magic trick, the wizard is shown behind the face, and this is the real accomplishment of the work: to reveal the differences between his fictional character and himself, and what has happened to him because of autobiographical expression, but not through any author-character exposition but in even more art.

The fate of the artist (and how could such a title not inspire such exhorting generalizations) is to discover how wrong-headed something they've been doing is. This makes Eddie Campbell's next project, an adaptation of a screenplay The Black Diamond Detective, a fitting evolution for the artist, where an entire project is tried on for size instead of mere mediums.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Art for the Artist, February 1, 2013
By 
Brandon (TWIN LAKES, WI, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fate of the Artist (Paperback)
THE FATE OF THE ARTIST might be marvelously significant for Eddie Campbell or for anyone sufficiently obsessed with his work, but it doesn't do much of anything at all for the casual literary consumer. The art is intriguing, and the form is DEFINITELY worth a second (and even third) glancing, but Campbell doesn't seem to have even attempted to broach anything insightful or entertaining in this piece. THE FATE OF THE ARTIST strikes me strongly as art that was made for its artist not its audience.
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The Fate of the Artist
The Fate of the Artist by Eddie Campbell (Paperback - May 2, 2006)
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