Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Lovely Horrible Stuff

by Eddie Campbell

There's a point in the first half of this rather odd graphic memoir where Eddie Campbell laments the fact that, where he and his wife used to discuss sex over their meals, now they talk about money.  When one is young, money is largely celebrated in its absence, but as one gets older, it raises in its importance.

That's kind of the point of The Lovely Horrible Stuff, which is split into two very different sections.  The first is a personal memoir, with Campbell examining his relationship with his money.  He discusses the amount of time and energy independent artists have to expend to get paid for their labour, and then goes on to talk about how, flush with his share of the spoils from From Hell, he lent money to his father-in-law, who then proceeded to tie the money up in a number of improbably lawsuits against the retirement village to which he'd moved.

Campbell's point here seems to be that money is complicated, and best left to others to manage, but that where money is concerned, no one can be complicated.  Campbell's long-time travel agent had constructed her own little Ponzi scheme, resulting in the Campbell's losing their plane tickets.

In the second part of the book, the Campbells travel to the island of Yap, a small part of Micronesia.  Historically, the people of Yap had placed their wealth in Rai, large stone disks that were carved from limestone on a neighbouring island.  Yapese society developed around the value of these disks, which were rarely moved.  Campbell gives an overview of the economics of the island, and how it was used to prove various points by Western economists over the years, but really, this is a travel memoir that has little more than tangential connections to the first half of the book.  I also found it to be the more enjoyable half.

Campbell's always been an interesting and singular cartoonist.  For most of this book, he mixes photographs with his own drawings, which is a little jarring at times.  This is an interesting read.

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