cover image The Second Fake Death of Eddie Campbell & The Fate of the Artist

The Second Fake Death of Eddie Campbell & The Fate of the Artist

Eddie Campbell. Top Shelf, $29.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-60309-524-2

Eisner winner Campbell (From Hell) pairs a meditative graphic novella on authenticity with a reissue of his metafictional memoir, The Fate of the Artist, in this quixotic double feature. In the original The Fate of the Artist, the artist has disappeared, leaving his friends and family to piece together his fate through six interconnected story fragments. In the sequel, his protagonist navigates the strange new world of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Eddie Campbell, are you home?” asks Campbell’s wife, novelist Audrey Niffenegger, as they stroll down the sidewalk in their snow-covered Chicago neighborhood early during Covid. Her seemingly innocuous question has no easy answer. This Eddie, who’s wearing a face mask, seems to Niffenegger to be an imposter, a suspicion she reveals to a hard-boiled detective named Royler Boom, who agrees to take the case. “The virus, you see, introduced a culture of masks and social distancing that brought its own brand of skullduggery,” suggests Campbell in his foreword. Is this merely a figurative identity crisis, or is Eddie literally someone else? The artist wrestles with his place in the world, and even his very sense of self, as forced isolation leads the introspective cartoonist into an experimental phase. Through a collage of early 1900s–style illustrations, blunt political cartoons, subtle slice-of-life moments, gallows humor, and a surreal crime story, Campbell wrestles with his own existential crisis as he attempts to uncover the truth behind his apparent doppelgänger. It’s an indelible pseudo-autobiography from a true master of comics storytelling. (July)