UK Comics Wiki

Alec: The King Canute Crowd (2000)

Alec is a series of semi-autobiographical comics by Eddie Campbell, published in a variety of venues from the late 1980s to the present. They follow Alec MacGarry, a stand-in for the author, throughout his life, from the pub crowd he hangs out with in his youth to life as a family man and successful artist living in Australia.

The early installments were published in short-run photocopied pamphlet form and sold at marts and by mail order. Alec strips featured in Escape from 1983. Escape published three slim volumes collecting these strips: Alec (1984), Alec: Love and Beerglasses (1985) and Alec: Doggie in the Window (1986). All three were collected, along with an unpublished fourth volume, as The Complete Alec by Acme Press in 1990.

Four further installments followed from American publishers: The Dead Muse (1990) and Little Italy (1991) from Fantagraphics Books, Grafitti Kitchen (1993) from Tundra Publishing, and The Dance of Lifey Death (1994) from Dark Horse Comics, before Campbell, now living in Australia, turned to self-publishing. He republished The Complete Alec, with a few alterations as Alec: The King Canute Crowd in 2000, and collected Little Italy, Grafitti Kitchen and The Dance of Lifey Death as Alec: Three Piece Suit (2001). In 2000 he published Alec: How to be an Artist, a history of comics in the 1980s, and Campbell's place in them, in the ironic guise of a "how to" manual. After the Snooter followed in 2002, depicting the author in middle age, in which the "Alec MacGarry" stand-in was quietly dropped and Campbell appeared under his own name.

The Fate of the Artist (First Second Books, 2006), a metafictional narrative in which the author's family investigate his disappearance, is perhaps not part of the Alec series. In any case, it is not included in Alec: The Years Have Pants, a hardback collection of The King Canute Crowd, Grafitti Kitchen, How to be an Artist, Little Italy, The Dead Muse, The Dance of Lifey Death, After the Snooter and some new material, published by Top Shelf in 2009.