‘The Naked Artist’ and Other Comic Book Legends
In The Naked Artist: Comic Book Legends, Bryan Talbot bravely goes where no one has dared go before: on the record, telling the embarrassing tales of legendarily bad behavior on the part of comic creators that have previously gone untold outside of convention bars.
Talbot shares these stories in his own voice, in the conversational fashion that they are told (and told, and retold) among comics pros, being continually burnished until some of them have taken on the quality of urban myths.
And, yes, in many, many cases, he names names.
To his credit, Talbot isn’t too proud to tell tales on himself, and one of the classics included here involves a faux pas of epic proportions which he perpetrated at an important dinner with Neil Gaiman and then-President of DC Comics, Jenette Khan. I found myself alternately wincing and laughing at that one, and many of the other stories had me laughing so hard I was literally gasping for breath. With several of the stories I couldn’t resist reading them aloud to my wife, who tended to respond in disbelief, saying, “Oh. My. God.”
Of note is that these stories are related in prose, though there are spot illustrations provided by Hunt Emerson. Take it from me though, don’t let the fact that these tales aren’t told in comics form stop you from picking up on what is an instant-classic work in the field.
Also worthy of note is that if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t cotton to ribald tales, this probably isn’t the book for you. Or, as Talbot himself bluntly puts it in his dedication, “for those of a sensitive disposition, and to those who are easily offended, just bugger off.”
If you’re a fan of Talbot’s work and you missed it on the first go-round, be sure to check out my interview with the man himself which was conducted surrounding the release of his latest graphic novel, Alice in Sunderland.