BETTER BY HALF
Alright, let me get this out of the way first. This graphic novel actually consists of two distinct stories related tenuously to writer/artist Eddie Campbell’s over-arching theme of MONEY (i.e. The Lovely Horrible Stuff in question). Now, the second story concerns the island of YAP and the significance of its currency Rai to its populace. To be honest, it reads like a research paper and unless you are really interested in the subject matter, is going to bore the pants off you.
Thankfully, the first story concerning Campbell’s financial troubles with his father-in-law is probably worth the price of admission on its own. The first story recalls Campbell’s autobiographical style (remember Alec from the 80s?) and simply put, it’s an account of Campbell’s bitter experience with money and how it affects his personal life.
The tale starts out with Campbell setting out the perennial dilemma that freelance artists face in getting paid for work. In between the various horror stories, Campbell details a surreal pub with famous artists and writers and even meets Shakespeare – who gives him quotes from his plays concerning debt collection! Quite droll.
As Campbell delves deeper into this issue, he also includes historical info about money, (e.g. Goanna image on Oz dollar) as well as anecdotes on prostitutes getting deductions for condoms.
There is a brilliant contrast between Campbell (dressed in business attire) and Accountant (in casual wear) as Campbell explores the possibilities of incorporating a company – so that Campbell could do a Batman story. Complications that an artist should not have to worry about. Issues with his daughter (Erin) about contributing to the household expenses also come into play which leads to a hilarious scene of Campbell tying up the car to prevent Erin from using it!
Finally, there is a rather depressing narrative of how Campbell was almost brought to financial ruin thanks to his father-in-law’s dispute with Australian Tax Authorities and how in order to prevent such a disaster, he had to effectively cut off all ties with his father-in-law.
All of which make for intriguing reading. And apart from minor gripe of that pointless second story, this graphic novel is a enjoyable and funny examination into The Lovely Horrible Stuff – MONEY!
Published by Top Shelf Productions