What more appropriate comic could I have been writing about on the day of that bogus, horrifying presidential auguration? That’s right, the Norwegian artist Pushwagner’s Dystopian 1970s masterwork Soft City, now out in a handsome American edition from the New York Review. Go, read, at The Comics Journal.
Archive for the 'commentary and criticism' Category
This is the kind of thing that helps me cope. Apologies for any awkwardness!
“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.
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.
The week in review.
This week saw the passing of several notable people in letters. The one that hit closest to home here was the way too early departure of Alvin Buenaventura, one of the great artisans in comics publishing. I didn’t know Buenaventura and only barely met him, once, when he was in Angoulême with cartoonist and editor extraordinaire Sammy Harkham in 2009 to promote their giant undertaking Kramers Ergot 7. But he was one of those publishers one feels one knows through the facture of their books. And whatever else I thought of Kramers 7, it was a triumph of book production and a truly admirable publication in both its ambition and generosity.
Generosity was, I gather from the many touching words from people that knew him, a defining trait in Buenaventura, which is no surprise, because that is exactly the impression one gets from his publications, from the lo-fi texturing and sharp printing of Souther Salazar’s overlooked Destined for Dizziness to the accurate, always vivid reproduction of radically different source material, often from one page to the next, in the monumental Kramers 7. Buenaventura set an example to aspire towards. RIP.