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ALEC: The Years Have Pants (A Life-Size Omnibus) Paperback – January 18, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Just about the last thing that the comics world needs (apart from more action/horror mashups) is another dry and inspiration-free autobiography—thankfully, Alec shows with thrilling certitude that quotidian observations make just as great comic art as the most action-packed fiction. This monster of a book (billed as the definitive edition) contains a life's worth of Campbell's previously published Alec MacGarry stories. Running from 1981 to the present, these witty and thoughtful pieces (etched with the prolific Campbell's typically scratchy impatience) show Campbell's alter ego progressing from irresponsible Scottish pub crawler to striving graphic novelist to responsible and reasonably successful Aussie father. Along the way we can trace Campbell's rise from penny-pinching obscurity to relative fame, sketching an engaging portrait of the comics community. Though best known for his Alan Moore collaboration From Hell, Campbell shows in his MacGarry stories a breezy comic touch that can still flirt with darker topics of artistic responsibility and mortality without weighing down the narrative. The book can drag in its earlier, more minutely observed pages, but taken as a whole, delivers a life-size work, a great and epic comic documentary novel like no other. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"This impressive collection -- a high-water mark in the graphic novel's short history -- confirms that no one else in the medium combines emotional truth, literary intelligence, and formal daring with such adroitness and elegance." --Booklist (starred review)

"Witty and thoughtful ... a great and epic comic documentary novel like no other." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A profound piece ... Campbell makes it feel like the greatest adventure imaginable." --Alex Pappademas, GQ<br /><br />
"Eddie Campbell's Alec stories were among the first of the modern era of autobiographical comics, and they still rate among the best -- witty, brilliantly illustrated, self-mocking without ever being mopey or pathetic, and most importantly, forever changing style to suit the needs of the story. After many years of sporadic availability, they're finally all available in one volume ... Watching Campbell's storytelling and approach to art progress and evolve as these stories unfold is as close as you can get to watching a real human life change on the page. One of the must-own releases of the year." --The AV Club

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions (January 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603090258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603090254
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 2.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Scott VINE VOICE on April 14, 2015
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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