Alec: The King Canute Crowd
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.
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.