Alec McGarry is Campbell himself - the little bit of fictional distance that allows him perspective on his own life. And this is the story of Eddie Campbell's journey from the self-published mini-comics scene in 1980s London to the hard crash of the "new comics" in the early 1990s. It's also the story of him meeting, marrying, and moving to Australia with his wife. And the battle of attempting to show her bum to the bus that passes their window every day without having his own pale Scottish arse revealed to the innocent passengers instead.
If you're new to the graphic novel, chances are that much of HOW TO BE AN ARTIST will pass you by. I think Eddie's experiences as a struggling creator are universal, but someone who knows of Alan Moore, Hugo Pratt and the general arc of the graphic novel over the last twenty years will relish the insider's perspective. In any case, Eddie Campbell has his powers about him here, skilfully weaving the personal and the documentary into a warm, funny and perceptive work. For the interested, there is also Eddie's personal list of the four dozen works he believes best deserve the term "graphic novel".
Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in Nature, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh. He's on the web at warrenellis.com and diepunyhumans.com.