World's Largest Comic Book Comes to Shantallow Library
Joe Campbell's Distant Fields set to be unveiled in Derry~Londonderry on May 23
It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane – it’s the world’s largest comic book, and it’s about to go on show in Derry~Londonderry's Shantallow Library as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations. Produced by artist Joe Campbell, the comic is entitled Distant Fields, and is 42 feet long and five and a half feet high.
Distant Fields will be on display at Shantallow Library for ten days, from May 23 – 31, part of the 2013 Earhart Festival. Campbell is a recipient of a UK City of Culture individual artists’ award, and Distant Fields is his first offering under that scheme.
'It’s a difficult work to describe,' says Campbell. 'You really have to see it. I took a 12-page short story and enlarged each page up to about six or seven times the actual height of a standard comic book page. Each of the pages is free-standing, and when laid end-to-end they form a 42ft long art installation. The idea is you walk slowly along the line of pages reading the story as you go.'
Distant Fields is a ghost story set in Derry~Londonderry and France. It tells the story of two brothers from Derry~Londonderry who were lost at the Somme in July 1916.
'I think people like scary tales,' adds Campbell. 'It may come from having to find ways to pass the long winter northern nights or having to be constantly huddled around a fireside. I’m not sure, but I know most people enjoy being a bit scared now and again.
'I also wanted the city to feature in a comic book. I’ve nearly always set my stories in Derry, right back as far as the late 1980s. It runs counter to the usual comic book setting of New York or some imagined American setting, and it seems to work just as well. The city’s sitting there, a ready-made model for backgrounds.'
The story touches on Derry~Londonderry’s involvement in the First World War, when over 1,000 men from the city lost their lives. Campbell hopes that Distant Fields will act as a jumping off point for people to learn more about that period.
Campbell is an artist who has lived and worked in Derry all his life. He is a graduate of the Open University and is currently working as a comic book artist with a number of graphic novel publications to his credit including The Amelia Earhart Story, written by Felicity McCall and published by Uproar Comics.
His most recent graphic novel, Missing: Have You Seen the Invisible Man?, has just been published by Accent UK and has received strong reviews in both the UK and the US.
Distant Fields will be launched at 12pm on May 23 at Shantallow Library in Derry~Londonderry.