The week in review
OK, I’ll try again. As should be evident, I’m not finding much time to blog these days, but I refuse to let go entirely, and who knows if times might not turn more propitious, Bunker-wise in the not-too-far future? Also, the National Gallery internet presence, which I’ve previously hinted at, is also still in the works. So, not much to say right now, but I have some links to share!
In-depth interview with Jean-Luc Martinez, the recently appointed director of the Louvre. Excellent, critical interview in which the director at Tribune de l’art takes his time to answer Didier Rykner’s not always easy questions. In three parts: one, two, three.
Pharoahe Monche interviewed. Another in-depth interview, this one with one of the greatest rap lyricists. Candid and insightful.
T.J. Clark on Veronese’s Allegories of Love at the National Galleries. Clark takes a close look on four wonderful pictures that just happen to be on display in one of the great exhibitions of the decade right where I work. Clark does tend to go on a little long, but it is still highly worthwhile to follow his eye.
How Not to Make a Graphic Novel. Fine piece by Sean Michael Robinson on the creative process as it pertains to long-form comics.
Raphael’s Influence on Titian 1508-1520. Kiril Penušliski examines the evidence and adds a few good observations to the evidence. Now, somebody should examine more closely Titian’s influence on Raphael…
Passing the mantle: Thomas Thorhauge and Stine Spedsbjerg at the Danish Comics Council general assembly in March
It happened a few weeks ago, but I figured I should still note it here: we have a new chairman, or rather chairwoman
, of the Danish Comics Council. Elected at the general assembly on 18 March
, Stine Spedsbjerg succeeds my pal Thomas Thorhauge who had decided to step down. Stine is a successful online cartoon diarist
and earns her keep in advertising. She’s enormously enterprising and resourceful — I can’t think of a better person to take over.
The Danish Comics Council was founded in 2009. I was part of the founding group along with a diverse group of comics professionals, and have sat on the board since. Considering that we have had no funding apart from the annual fee paid by members, it’s been a productive five years: we’ve had a hand in the establishment of a state-approved cartoonist’s programme (BA, ‘graphic storytelling’) at the Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark — the first of its kind in Denmark; we’ve managed to place the semi-private Comics Museum archive with a state-recognized institution, the Storm P. Museum in Copenhagen, which secures it for the future in terms of preservation, collection, expansion, research and facilitation; we’ve created an comics award, the Ping, given annually to cartoonists in a number of categories; we’ve undertaken annual registration of all comics published in Denmark, published annually in a small compendium; we’ve arranged two conferences at the University of Copenhagen, one of which helped stimulate the establishment of the Nordic Network for Comics Research (NNCORE): we’ve partnered with the ambitious Danish comics biennial Copenhagen Comics; we’ve brought comics to wide audiences through live cartooning and other activities; and quite a lot more.
While Thomas takes a well-deserved breather (though remaining at the Council’s board), there is plenty for Stine to get up to. The Comics Council is still essentially an unfunded organisation and other affiliated groups such as Copenhagen Comics will also depend on more steady sources of funding to survive — the hope is eventually to secure larger, ongoing partnerships with possible patrons, as well as with the Danish State to help secure an institutional infrastructure for Danish comics in the future. And I know Stine also has ambitions for preaching the comics gospel to a much wider audience than is currently the case.
Here’s to the next half-decade!
Photo: Henrik Conradsen
Paolo Veronese, The Conversion of Mary Magdalene, about 1548, oil on canvas, 117.5 x 163.5 cm. London, The National Gallery.
In a couple of weeks’ time, we’re opening the first major show
of the works of Venetian Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese in decades at the National Gallery. Although it falls within my area of responsibility and will therefore occupy much of my time for the next few months, it’s an exhibition I have had nothing to do with, having started at the gallery only a few months ago. But needless to say one I’m looking forward to immensely: it’s a privilege thus to be dropped into the midst of a great project on an artist of immense generosity.
It’s not just that his pictures pull out all the stops, that his art is a rarely paralleled display of elegance, magnificence, and virtuosity, it’s that there is something profoundly touching about those qualities in his work. He is one of the few artists who really understood the lessons of Raphael. His immaculate sense of composition, his grasp of form, two- as well as three-dimensional, his sensitive use of gesture, and the subtlety of his portrayal of human interaction are all elements in what seems to me a distinctly civilising art, to paraphrase Kenneth Clark’s characterisation of Raphael. Contemplating Veronese is not only a joy, it makes you feel better about life and who we are.
That’s the high register. Keep an eye on the NG website for further thoughts and more concrete analysis during the course of the exhibition. I’ll keep you posted here and on twitter.
“There Are Good Guys and Bad Guys.” Bhob Stewart’s classic essay on/obituary of Wally Wood reprinted at the Comics Journal to mark the passing of its author. RIP. Read it, it is one of the most evocative, personal texts of its kind in comics. Really brings the great, flawed cartoonist to life.
Nikoline Werdelin interviewed. Arguably the greatest living Danish cartoonist, Werdelin has rarely if ever been interviewed about her comics (she has often talked to journalists about other things — life, style, death, and everything in between), so this in-depth, work-oriented interview by Thomas Thorhauge is a major scoop. Unfortunately it is only available in Danish, as is indeed the case with most of her work. English readers can sample her in From Wonderland with Love.
Finally, this uncredited photo, from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, is arresting, sobering, terrible. A reminder that something has to be done there. A no-fly zone blocking the government’s use of their air force remains a good place to start.
Illustration by Trondheim of the Angoulême mascot (designed by him) and Bill Watterson's Calvin
The Comics Journal, I’ve just posted a small article on the recent changes to the Grand Prix awarded at the Angoulême comics festival, this year to Bill Watterson. It is arguably the greatest formal honor bestowed in the comics world, and any change brings with it controversy, of course. I asked the great cartoonist, and member of the Grand Prix awarding body, Lewis Trondheim to help me out a bit. Check it out.
Once again, Paul Gravett has taken a trip around the globe for his annual survey of the best in world comics. And as usual, I’ve contributed a small list of what I consider the best/most notable Danish comics of last year. Read the full list here and here, but just in case, here’s my contribution: Continue reading ‘Danish Comics of the Year 2013′
From Jim Woodring's Fran, a comic Joe McCulloch made me appreciate more, even if the cartoonist's recent work has left me a bit cold
Once again, Ng Suat Tong has posted an overview
of some of the best comics criticism published online in the year gone by over at the Hooded Utilitarian. In previous years, he has gathered differing juries consisting of a fairly wide range of critics, but this year he has dispensed with that in favor of just selecting a bunch of pieces on his own.
And once again, I’m flattered to be included on his list, especially considering just how little I’ve written in the past year. I’ve kept wanting to, but other things just kept getting in the way, and much as I want to say things are going to be different, that probably won’t change much in the coming year. Anyway, it was nice to see my piece on Abel Lanzac (aka. Antonin Baudry) and Christophe Blain’s Quai d’Orsay and Willem’s Degeulasse, written for The Comics Journal last August, mentioned. Especially since so many really excellent pieces (as well as some fairly mediocre one, it has to be said) were included.
Suat’s taking stock, which has now been running for five years, remains a valuable service to the corner of the comics internet interested in serious writing about the art form, and I for one am grateful that he still makes the effort. Also, he continues to write outstanding comics criticism himself: from the last year, I particularly liked his critique of Michael Deforge(‘s critics), his appreciation of The Trigan Empire, his essay on Daniel Clowes’ because of Shia Laboef now rather famous “Justin M. Damiano”, his examination of Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island, and his head-scratching dissection of a particularly lauded xkcd story.
Now, don’t waste more time here — go check out the list.
I Informations bogtillæg fra i fredags stod min anmeldelse af Marcel Ruijters De hellige, udgivet på dansk af forlaget Forlæns, at læse. Du kan se den her.
I fredags publicerede Information en artikel om kvinder i tegneserier i deres specielle bogtillæg sammensat i anledning af Bogforum. Den var skrevet af mig. Desværre havde jeg været så letsinding at sende dem en kladde, der bestod af flere halvfærdige og senere slettede afsnit, som kun til en vis grad hang sammen. Dog nok til at den kunne trykkes.
Ret foruroligende at kunne konstatere, at man er så defekt, når man sidder og arbejder til deadline. Heldigvis er det nu en ny uge, hvilket betyder at bogtilægget er historie og de fleste eksemplarer sandsynligvis er smidt ud (eller snart bliver det) af læserne, og på avisen har de i mellemtiden været så flinke at uploade den rigtige, færdige version af artiklen, som bl.a. indeholder anmeldelser af Margaux Motins Egentlig ville jeg så gerne have vaeret antropolog… (billede ovenfor), Marten Vande Wieles Paris og Aben Malers dagbogsantologi Jeg tegner, når jeg skriver, såvel som korte omtaler af Maren Uthaug og Stine Spedsbergs tegnede blogs.
Primært er artiklen dog et forsøg på meget kursorisk at skitsere en væsentlig udvikling indenfor tegneserien, set med danske øjne — med alt hvad der følger af kønsdiskurs og -kontroverser.
Hele herligheden kan læses her.
Once again, the Danish comics grassroots are banding together to create a large area devoted to comics at the Copenhagen Book Fair, Bogforum. The Danish Comics Council is teaming up with a number of other organisations to bring to the guests lots of comics goodness, including live drawing, interviews, workshops and much more. I’m not yet sure I will be able to attend myself, but I may drop in, and if I do I expect to see you there!
More info (in Danish) here and here. And Malene Hald has an overview of everything comics related (including stuff taking place outside the comics area) at the fair.
Images from the comics area at last year’s Bogforum, including a pap of internationally acclaimed director Bille August reading comics.
I fredagens bogtillæg til dagbladet Information stod min anmeldelse af Jiro Taniguchi og Hiromi Kawakamis Senseis mappe at læse. For jer, der ikke har papirudgaven, kan den også læses på nettet.
Monday morning, one of Denmark’s great all-ages storytellers and underground comics pioneer Rune T. Kidde passed away. At 56, it was a wee bit early to go, but with more than a hundred books to his name, many of them of high quality and some bona fide classics, his legacy won’t pass so easily.
Kidde was one of the pioneers of the new wave that hit Danish comics in the late seventies and early eighties. His comics work was expressive, irreverent and hilarious. He was kind of a Danish Reiser, but also — through his pioneering fanzine publication and editorship — a bit of a Professeur Choron for us. Although he was surrounded by several amazing talents, Kidde stands as more of a unifying personality than most of his colleagues because of his broader tastes, his work as an editor both of fanzines and at mainstream publisher Interpresse, and not the least his musical and literary activities, which only flowered after he had to retire as a cartoonist after losing his eyesight to diabetes in 1990.
Come to think of it, he was — more than anything else — an heir to the great Danish humorist Storm P. Not as consistently witty or funny, but possessed of the same yen for the absurd and the same deep understanding of Danish popular culture and similarly multi-talented. He was highly prolific and a constant, original presence as a musician, spoken word artist, stage writer, audio book reader, and author. Always somewhere just outside the limelight, but unmistakeably there,. A kind of benign Rasputin of alternative and kids’ “pop” culture. He will be missed.
Website blog Lambiek profile short story in English readings obituary (in Danish)
Photo: Linda Johansen.
Just thought I’d collect links to a number of writings on comics I’ve done over the years on comics history and aesthetics, as well as some of the great or otherwise significant works that have shaped it, here and elsewhere. Hopefully it will be interesting or useful to anybody interested in the subject, not the least students that I’ve bored with it in the seminar room. Anyway, here’s an overview: Continue reading ‘On Comics History and the Canon’
Here in the United States we are experts in the knowledge that editorial cartooning is a dying art. In other areas of the world, however, it is an art that people die for.
– Dr. Robert Russell
The week in review
The execution, earlier this year, of cartoonist Akram Raslan is another reminder of the untenable situation in Syria, of the kind we who are especially attuned to cartooning notice. As if we needed it. It is great that the deal to eliminate the country’s chemical weapons so far seems to be going ahead (though, what about the chemical weapons in Egypt and Iran?), and good to see that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this week. But I fail to see how the Assad regime can be regarded as anything but illegitimate by now. I realize the complexity of the situation in the region, how delicate affecting regime change would be, and the power vacuum any removal of the current despot in charge would cause, but how can one seriously contemplate having dealings with these mass murderers in the future? How will the region ever be more stable if they remain in charge? After a while, fear of change just becomes cynicism.
I really shouldn’t be giving it any attention, but the new “Leonardo” find this week is symptomatic of a rising trend toward sensationalist PR stunts in the art world, where often dubious pieces are trotted out as genuine works by one of the great masters. Another example is the recent, silly attempt to upgrade a Velasquez copy at Kingston Lacy. The press clearly laps it up, but in the long run it has to be a problem for anybody taking seriously the study and facilitation of knowledge of art, as well as to the market. And it clearly makes one wary even of more serious proposals, such as that of the new, possible Titian I wrote about the other day.
Speaking of new finds, the sensationalist rollout of the fantastic Van Gogh discovery by the Van Gogh Museum last month is scrutinised and found wanting by Gary Schwartz.
And speaking of Nobel Prizes, the one for literature of course went to Alice Munro, whom I suppose is deserving and all, but when is the committee finally going to give it to Bob Dylan? Bill Wyman made the by now long stated case once again before the prize was announced.
Pusha T’s new album My Name is My Name, seems poised as contender for album of the year if the singles are anything to go by. The Kendrick Lamar-featured “Nosestalgia” is hot, and “Pain”, released this week is Fyah! Also, check David Drake’s pre-release analysis here.
If you read Danish, Louise B. Olsen’s smart and elegant essay on Krazy Kat is a nice way to celebrate the centenary of that greatest of comic strips.
Oh, and this article on how the city of London has become an international tax haven for real estate speculators is just a depressing peek into the workings of global capitalism, not the least to somebody like yours truly who will soon be moving to that city.
Murdered by the Assad regime, like tens of thousands of other innocents.