Taking its cue from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—“I grow old, I wear the bottom of my trousers rolled”—Alec: “The Years Have Pants” knows we change our pants from time to time, and how we do so details how we make our way through life. It’s also the title of the new story that ends this massive compendium collecting Eddie Campbell’s (almost complete) catalog of biographical comics works.
Campbell first began drawing his autobiographical comics back in the ‘70s. To protect the identity of his friends and family, he gave everyone a different name—including himself (“Alec MacGarry”). Alec has stood in for Eddie even since, as Campbell has continued through multiple publishers and multiple venues of his life. All of them (except for The Fate of the Artist, which is still in print from First Second) are found in Alec: “The Years Have Pants”.
Today, it’s a matter of course to see a comic biography. Comics memoirs are almost a dime a dozen, it seems. But that shouldn’t negate the pure joy of experiencing a true master of the form explore the full range of its possibilities, from the mundane to the extraordinary. It’s interesting to watch an intelligent, well-thought-out man delve into the ups and downs of his own life with care.
Campbell is a comics veteran, so he peppers his tales with stories of the growth of the industry itself (the mid-‘80s burst that sees Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, and others exploding with greatness coincides with the birth of Alec’s first child, a nice parallel that Campbell doesn’t miss out on).
The bottom line is this: If you want to see what a master of comics memoir does at the top of his form, Alec: “The Years Have Pants” is the book to read. Its 600 pages are a revelation of humanity.
Reviewed by John Hogan on July 2, 2012
Alec: "The Years Have Pants"