Hype: Chris Ware Conversations


The latest volume in University of Mississippi Press’ series compiling interviews with individual cartoonists features Chris Ware. It is edited by Jean Braithwaite, characteristically beautifully covered by Ware himself, and includes a compelling selection of very different interviews spanning the cartoonist’s career — including rarely-seen ones made very early on in his career as well as a couple of brand new ones with Ware and one with his wife Marnie.

The book also contains my 2010 conversation (see here and here) with Ware from the Copenhagen comics festival Komiks.dk (which has since changed its name to Copenhagen Comics and whose most recent edition is coming up next month). I am proud in general to be in this series for the second time (the first was the Chester Brown volume; see also here) and in this particular, skilfully edited volume in particular. Do check it out.

Happy New Year


A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall.

1 Love.

Celebrating Paul Joannides

It was a great pleasure, in the run-up to Christmas, to announce the publication of the latest issue of the art history anthology Artibus et Historiae, which is a special issue dedicated to Professor Paul Joannides, formerly of the University of Cambridge, now Emeritus.

I was once of the guest editors of this projects, working with a group of Paul’s former students and friends to put together a publication that we thought he would enjoy, a Festschrift to mark his retirement a couple years ago, but beyond that of course his significance as a scholar and teacher in his field. It was all kept a secret and took about two years. We’re proud of the publication and happy in this way to honour a great teacher, mentor and person.

The list of contributors includes many of Paul’s friends and colleagues, some who have known him for most of their lives and some who only got to know him in recent years, as his last students. The list of contents can be perused through the link above.

I managed to contribute an article myself. Here’s the abstract: Continue reading ‘Celebrating Paul Joannides’

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the National Gallery

This is the kind of thing that helps me cope. Apologies for any awkwardness!

What I’ve been up to


It seems increasingly meaningless these days, right? Yet, these are some of the things I’ve been up to over the last month or so.

ITEM at Apollo Magazine online a few weeks ago, I wrote an appreciation of the great Harewood Titian drawing (above), which is currently under temporary export bar and risks leaving the UK for an overseas home if a matching offer isn’t met before 20 December.

ITEM In the latest National Gallery Technical Bulletin (vol. 37), Chris Fischer, Rachel Billinge and I analyse new technical evidence concerning Fra Bartolommeo’s Virgin Adoring the Child with St Joseph in the National Gallery’s collection. Newly recorded infrared reflectograms reveal underdrawing that straddles the gap between his disciplined Florentine training and the flowering lyrical undercurrent in his work that was stimulated so decisively by his visit to Venice in 1508. We also publish a series of replicas/copies of the composition, including the one in Brescia and a previously unknown one in a private collection, both probably made in his San Marco workshop. The issue also contains articles on Dutch seventeenth-century flower painting, Daubigny and Van Gogh. Consult at your art library or wait till the content is made available online.

ITEM The latest volume of Studi Tizianeschi (no. IX) contains my review of Tom Nichols’ flawed but occasionally stimulating book Titian and the End of the Venetian Renaissance. But don’t get it for that — the issue contains Paul Joannides’ and Jane Turner’s long-awaited and magisterial examination of Titian’s and his workshop’s many versions of the quintessential Venus and Adonis composition, a material that would pose a heroic challenge to any Titian connoisseur. There are other interesting articles on Titian-related matters too, naturally. Again, check it out at your library or order here.


ITEM a couple of my comics reviews have been published in Information (in Danish). Firstly, it concerns the Danish omnibus-like edition of Simon Hanselman’s bleakly funny and deranged comics about Megg, Mogg and Owl (above). It predates last year’s Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam, but pretty much every strip he made prior to that is in it. Next up is Drømme i tynd luft (‘Dreams in Thin Air’), a comics documentary on the formation of the first Tibetan national football team told by the Danish idealist who helped it happen, Michael Magnus Nybrandt and illustrated by the talented Thomas Engelbrecht Mikkelsen. It’s a fascinating story, but the comic lacks dramatic and psychological interest, despite a few inspired passages. Anyway, even if you don’t read Danish, you may be able soon to see for yourself, as several international editions are in the works.

ITEM Oh, and I’m back writing story notes in the Fantagraphics Carl Barks series, which is of course fantastic fun. In the latest book, I wrote about the so-called ‘Donald Duck Rants about Ants’ — a true horror comedy steeped in 1950s paranoia as only Barks can do it. But, you know, get it — and the series — for the comics.

US Voters, please do us all a favor


Don’t let this jerk, or any Republican, take anything today. Our future depends on it.

VOTE.

Danske avantgarde-tegneserier i Information

Fra Allan Haverholms When the Last Story Is Told


Efter længere tids fravær er jeg i dag tilbage i Informations bogtillæg med en anmeldese af en række tegneserieudgivelser af den mere utvetydigt litterært/kunstnerisk orienterede art: Signe Parkins & Drawings, Michelangelo Setola og Edo Chieregatos Snuder på lastbiler, Rikke Villadsen og Bjørn Rasmussens første to bind i deres serie Ni piger, og Allan Haverholms When the Last Story Is Told. Læs den her, nu hvis du har abonnement, om nogle uger, hvis ikke. Eller køb avisen på papir!

Og lige en påmindelse: overskrift, underrubrik og billedtekster er stort set aldrig mine på disse artikler. Ikke at jeg nødvendigvis er utilfreds, men sådan fungerer det.

PAW 50!

Paw Mathiasen skoler rosset i boghåndværk, Angoulême 2007 (forstør for yderligere indsigt)


“Glæden ved tegneserier indgår i den store livscyklus. ‘Nuff said!” Sådan sagde Paw Mathiasen i et interview for ti år siden, på et tidspunkt hvor man kan sige at han var steget ind sin fase 3 — den hvor han virkelig begyndte at gøre sig gældende som fuldtidsforlægger med bredt udsyn og en ambition om arbejdet med tegneserier som levevej. De to tidligere faser i denne forsimpling af Paws fine, fornemme og facetterede karriere i dansk tegneserie er naturligvis Fanzine-perioden, hvor en ellers hensynende grund blev gødet med Fat Comic og anden aktivisme, og så Fahrenheit-perioden op gennem halvfemserne og et stykke ind i nullerne, hvor Paw nærmest ene mand sørgede for, at der stadig blev udgivet danske tegneserier hinsides den meget snævre mainstream og samtidig stille, roligt og også lidt rodet introducerede danske læsere for den store udvikling, der var ved at tage fart i udlandet.

Fahrenheit er ganske enkelt den væsentligste danske tegneserieantologi de sidste tre årtier. Det samme gælder forlaget Fahrenheit på dets område. Man kan muligvis til tider have savnet en redaktionel linje, men det er nok samtidig en af hemmelighederne bag forlagets sejlivethed og brede betydning. Det ganske enkelt svært at forestille sig den opblomstring af dansk tegneserie og dansk tegneseriekultur, vi ser i dag uden. Paw har holdt faklen højt i op mod fyrre år og står fortsat som en konstant, varm og progressiv kraft et sted i kulturens hjerte. Fra Godfather til gryende Grand Old Man, med familie i nuet og en fortid at kigge stolt tilbage på. Cyklens fase fire—fremtiden—venter.

Tak og tillykke Paw!

UPDATE: Der er en stor fødselsdagsgave til Paw fra venner og kolleger på Nummer9.

Back at Roskilde


I spent parts of the last few days at the Roskilde Festival covering its hip hop programme for the Danish hip hop website Rapspot. I unfortunately missed most of the two first days, but managed to catch some great music on Friday and Saturday. At this stage of post-Brexit chaos, it was particularly great to see some of London’s finest uniting us in mosh. Fantastic.

If you read Danish, my coverage is here, here, and here. Astrid Maria B. Rasmussen, who took the above photo of Stormzy, has posted several great photo galleries from the festival here, here, here, and here (graffiti).

PING happened last night


Yes, the Ping awards, and I was there. In part because I still sit on the jury for this set of Danish comics award (named after the great Storm P.; more info here), and in part because I had the honour of presenting the lifetime achievement Ping to editor extraordinaire and comics writer Henning Kure for forty years of seminal work in Danish comics (great write-up in Danish by Henry Sørensen here). Alas, he couldn’t be there to accept the award, which was a real bummer. But anyway, it was a great evening, which saw one of Denmark’s greatest cartoonist, Peter Kielland, take the award for Best Danish comic and my buddy Thomas Thorhauge the one for Best editorial cartoonist (an award I had no influence on, nota bene!). Here’s the full list of awardees:

Best Danish Comic: Peter Kielland, Hr. Gris My review (in Danish)

Best International Comic in Danish translation: Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, Den her sommer (This One Summer)

Best International Comic: Adrian Tomine, Killing and Dying

Best Comic for Young Readers: Thomas Wellmann, Pimo og Rex 1: Den magiske muse

Best Danish Online Comic: Søren Mosdal, Nastrand – Beach of the Dead

Best Danish Debut: Karoline Stjernfelt, Kongen (I morgen bliver bedre 1) My review (in Danish)

Best Editorial Cartoonist: Thomas Thorhauge

The Lifetime Achievement Award: Henning Kure

Mary Wept at the Comics Journal


My by this point extremely irregular column on European comics at The Comics Journal is making a bit of a departure today, presenting a critical assessment of the very Canadian and thus non-European master cartoonist Chester Brown’s new book of Biblical exegesis Mary Wept over the Feet of Jesus. In some ways an addendum to his last, fascinating and conflicted confessional, Paying for It, in some an extension of his nineties Gospel adaptations, and in others his to date perhaps deepest descent into hermetic eccentricity, it is worth a read.

I actually think that Brown is one of the single cartoonists about whom I’ve written the most. A lot of it is accessible right here at this site.

I morgen bliver bedre i Information


Min anmeldelse af Karoline Stjernfelts albumdebut I morgen bliver bedre bind 1 bragtes en anelse forsinket i lørdagens Informer. Læs den her (hvis du har abonnement…). Nåja, og så bør du absolut læse Henry Sørensens langt mere udførlige anmeldelse på Nummer9, samt hans interview med skaberen.

How Did We End Up Here?

In their first issue following the terrorist bombings in Brussels, Charlie Hebdo published a leading article, signed editor-in-chief Riss, which displays some of the worst tendencies of the magazine (English version here). In it, Riss seems to hold accountable all Muslims for the actions of terrorists, skewing dangerously close to the kind of rhetoric employed by fascists. To regular readers, however, it seems clear that what he is doing is criticising the reluctance among Muslims to question aspects of their faith, parts of their holy scripture, that motivate jihadist violence. He specifically mentions the scholar and commentator Tariq Ramadan, with whom the magazine has a bit of an ongoing feud, as somebody influential who glosses over these issues in his efforts to teach non-Muslims about Islam. Riss’ other main target are multiculturalist non-Muslims who similarly prefer not to debate these issues and call out people who do as ‘islamophobes.’

The thing is, there are points to be made here: surveys made among Western Muslims indicate how widespread casual anti-semitism and homophobia are, how paternalistic attitudes toward women can be, and demonstrate surprisingly little discomfort with such passages of scripture as those that condemn to death apostates and women guilty of adultery. Obviously, surveys are not the whole truth, and I assume that most Western Muslims actually have a much more nuanced approach to life than statistics may lead one to think, but it does seem that there is remarkably little open debate about such issues among Muslims. This despite the fact that some of these attitudes and doctrine are anathema to a society built on the rights of the individual and constitute part of the foundations of jihadist terrorism. Similarly, left-wing and multiculturalist efforts to downplay them or place the blame for jihadist terrorism quasi-exclusively with Western foreign and integration policy (important as those factors are) are not doing anybody any favours either, least of all Muslim dissidents.

Unfortunately, very little of this comes across in Riss’ sloppy and sensationalist op-ed. It’s as if he is talking in the same blunt register as he does in his political cartoons, but without the humour. His defense of secularism–in itself essential to our societal model–is shrill and paranoiac. In the English translation of the piece, he (or perhaps his translator) even likens the purported conspiracy of silence described to terrorism. Strangely, and perhaps somewhat reassuringly, this passage is absent from the French original. The absurd claim that a Muslim baker who does not serve pork is somehow infringing our rights to eat what we like and thereby is complicit in terrorism, however, is present in both and is an execrable example that threatens to remove all sense from his argument–confirming the fundamentally unjust caricature of Charlie as a bigoted, hateful publication.

Of course, the editorial was written by someone who has been on the receiving end of jihadist Kalashnikovs. I expect this makes him see certain things more clearly than I, but it is also well known that anger does not make for great politics.