04/26/2018

Caleb Orecchio here filling in for Sam, and I’ve just read Prime Cuts #1!

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Eddie Campbell

I am always interested in expanding the breadth of my comics knowledge, and was happy when Frank loaned me the first two issues of the Fantagraphics anthology, Prime Cuts. Published at the height of comics’ new respectable reputation in 1987. A nice black and white magazine featuring various comics work of the time from cutting edge cartoonists like Eddie Campbell, underground veterans like R. and Aline Crumb, and reprints of Cliff Sterrett sunday pages; and many many more. The mag even featured prose fiction, plus a great (as always) spirited editorial by Gary Groth in the first issue.

The first two issues are solid, but definitely reflect the times and the growing pains of independent comics. A lot of stories are clunkers and seem so stiff and outdated to my millennial eyes, though they don’t take away from the great work. My favorite comic in the first issue has to be Eddie Campbell’s strip “Blues Blues Blues.”

Eddie Campbell

Campbell’s work really sings and emits much more electricity than the its neighbors. The strip is dated “’83” and it’s hard to tell if this was when the comic was made or when it takes place or both. Either way, the strip feels pertinent. Though I hate to use this cliché when describing art, “Blues Blues Blues” is kind of sexy. Sexy in the way one would describe Mean Streets or Reservoir Dogs at the time those movies were released if you liked them (and people tended to either love or hate them). There’s a freshness to the comic that you can’t help but be attracted to.

Eddie Campbell

The story emphasizes the recklessness of youth. The constant drinking and smoking and mingling and sulking and loving and losing that young people simultaneously rue and romanticize as they experience them. This idea is illustrated through a collage-y, unruled series of images supplemented by Campbell’s lyrical writing along the left side (Campbell is secretly one of comics’ best writers of words). Compound that with the signature loose-yet-perfect drawing, and you got yourself a classic.

It feels like a diary or private confessional or memories jotted down in a notebook. I felt like I was hanging out with Campbell and George and all the other lads and lasses, smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor and splashing in the water. His hangover is my hangover. It’s excellent. Unfettered thoughts and embarrassing stories. Real intimate like a folk set in 1955 at Café Wha? or something  “They don’t make ’em like they used to,” as the saying goes. I am simply smitten.

Eddie Campbell

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Joanie and Jordie – 4-26-2018 – by Caleb Orecchio

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