John Campbell introduces us to his idea of Michael Keaton

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When local artist John Campbell was featured in Culture Vultures last month he was credited as the creator of the webcomic Pictures for Sad Children, of which I am a longtime on-the-record fan. However, on Monday a message turned up in PfSC's slot in my RSS reader saying that Campbell was turning the Pictures site into an archive, and has already spent the past few months working on the project that will replace it.

Michaelkeaton.net is a combination of comics and "found video"—which he claims "walks a thin intellectual property line probably"—that Campbell is using to tell a heavily fictionalized account of actor Michael Keaton's life story. Some of the biographical elements are true: Michael Keaton's real name actually is Michael Douglas, and he really did work on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Other parts, like Keaton coming up with his nom de cinema after being knocked unconscious by the other actor named Michael Douglas, are part of the strange, hallucinatory story that Campbell's in the process of creating.

The comic elements have much of the same flavor as Pictures for Sad Children, but the new project's surreal qualities, and the fact that you never know what the next link you click will lead to, also remind me of pioneering Web-based abstract art pieces like Superbad. Campbell's been a rewarding artist to follow so far, and this dreamlike exploration of celebrity and existential psychology is already a fascinating trip.

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