Alec: The King Canute Crowd

This first collection of Eddie Campbell’s life stories established his reputation as a dean of autobiographical comics.

“Alec” is Campbell’s version of himself, an artist working a job at a metal-stamping plant he’s overeducated for. He and Danny go to the pub frequently to drink and talk. Each see something in the other they don’t have in themselves: Danny’s the “man of action” while Alec is hesitant and reflective.

Alec: The King Canute Crowd cover
The King Canute Crowd
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The nine-panel grid doesn’t get in the way of the individual pen-and-ink panels, leading to a constant art flow that supports the story structure of “and then this happened”. For all that the subjects are similar — sitting, talking, drinking — the images are individual, perfect snapshots of moments in time, smoothed clean by memory.

It’s the simple life circa late 1970s, where the men are in their mid-20s and the most complicated things happening are the social arrangements, as the men ponder sex and chase girls. Friendship is the common thread, holding together through fights and run-ins with officials, at least for a time. They’ve got no ambition beyond enjoying life.

It’s the kind of world that doesn’t really exist, but for all that life isn’t like this, it’s still true to the emotions either felt or wished for.

More information on Eddie Campbell can be found at Wikipedia or at this index of his comic work. This book is currently available through Top Shelf Productions. Plus, Warren Ellis says, “You need this book.”

6 Responses to “Alec: The King Canute Crowd”

  1. John Platt Says:

    All of Eddie Campbell’s “Alec” books are must-reading.

  2. Johanna Says:

    You guessed my theme for this week!

  3. Max Says:

    I picked this up in Chicago at the Top Shelf booth (5 bucks!) and have been working my way through it slowly. The “and then this happened” storytelling (perfect description for it, btw) begs for me to rush through it, so I’ve only been reading a few pages at a time so I don’t skip over anything.

    This is the first of the Alec books I’ve ever read and I’m loving every moment of it thus far.

  4. Johanna Says:

    What a great deal! You have a lot more patience than I do, to restrict yourself that way. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  5. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] In comparison to Alec: The King Canute Crowd or Alec: Three Piece Suit, After the Snooter is a more modern work, more in keeping with the Eddie Campbell of today instead of decades ago. […]

  6. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] The first section of Alec: Three Piece Suit, Graffiti Kitchen, follows after Alec: The King Canute Crowd. It’s a love story that Campbell calls “the best of all my books, long or short.” It’s certainly the best sampler — if you don’t like this, you won’t appreciate his other books either. […]




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