cover image Alec: The Years Have Pants (A Life-Sized Omnibus)

Alec: The Years Have Pants (A Life-Sized Omnibus)

Eddie Campbell, . . Top Shelf, $49.95 (638pp) ISBN 978-1-60309-047-6

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.)