Eddie Campbell's new book is divided into two parts. The first is mostly autobiographical and deals with Campbell's relationship with money - "The Lovely Horrible Stuff" - and how it dictates a lot of his life from relationships with his kids, wife, and father-in-law (whose own wheelings and dealings are discussed at length), to his professional life in comics and TV work. Campbell makes the distinction that though he is careful with money, he is not interested in it nor its highly complex structures in finance and accounting, choosing instead art and dreaming over the filthy lucre every time.
This first section was interesting in part, I found out that in order to be hired to work for DC and Batman that you needed to be your own company or else you wouldn't be paid, and found out that Campbell is apparently something of a media figure in Australia. However, it felt a bit sour to read about Campbell talking about his father-in-law's financial problems and how they trickled over to his own, but Campbell is perceptive enough to see how the situation turns him from happy-go-lucky artist to bitter old man muttering about money just like his in-law.
The second section deals with the island of Yap in Micronesia and the Yapese system of money which involves enormous stone disks with a hole in the centre. This was their currency and Campbell goes to great length in documenting their economic system, their culture and history. To be brutally honest, I didn't give a fig about the Yapese. They're a tiny island nation who bartered with large pieces of stone and that's it. I didn't care about which chief made which stone disk or which Western explorers showed up, it was just so tedious to read.
Their inclusion is of course to make the point that their stone disks are as silly a currency as shiny gold in the West or the belief that a piece of paper is worth whatever the number printed on it. I get it, the concept of money is stupid but we need something otherwise society wouldn't function. But money can be art as seen by the stone disks which Campbell says could be viewed as sculptures as the merging of art and money in one. But it's still really dull to read.
It's an uneven book with the first part being more interesting than the faux-anthropological second part, though I can't say the book as a whole was particularly fun or engrossing. Fans of Campbell's work will no doubt enjoy this but I don't see it appealing to a broader audience - it certainly didn't grab me.