Archive for the 'letters' Category

Radio Rackham: The Sandman


I denne omgang har vi kigget på en af de store, skelsættende tegneserier, Neil Gaimans og en masse andres The Sandman (1989-96). Vi har inviteret Teddy Kristiansen, der i sin tegnede et af kapitlerne i historien The Kindly Ones og leverede et af sine hovedværker med spin off-historien Sandman Midnight Theatre, forfattet af Gaiman sammen med Matt Wagner. Lærke Fenger fra Faraos Cigarer er også med som passioneret læser af The Sandman. Vi kommer rundt omkring værket fra forskellige vinkler, ikke mindst nogle mere kritiske. Vi diskuterer selvfølgelig også den nye Netflix-serie. Lyt her og læs mere på Nummer9.

Radio Rackham: Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary


I denne episode har vi tegneserieskaber Lars Kramhøft i studiet til en diskussion af Justin Greens selvbiografiske klassiker Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary fra 1972. Green døde tidligere i år, som også er 50-året for tegneseriens udgivelse, så det var tid! Der er tale om et af den amerikanske undergrounds hovedværker og en tegneserie, som søsatte tusind skibe i form at tegneserier, der ufiltreret trak på deres skaberes private og indre, levede liv, hvadenten vi snakker selvbiografi, autofiktion, drømme-tegneserier eller bekendelseslitteratur. Vi får også snakket om en række af de problemer, udfordringer og muligheder disse genrer giver skabere som Lars, der arbejder med dem i dag.

Lyt her og læs mere på Nummer9.

Efter København i Informeren


I dagens udgave af Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af Christian Skovgaards overrumplende tegneserie Efter København, udgivet for nylig af forlaget Forlæns. Hermed et uddrag af anmeldelsen:

…Skovgaards fejende flotte arkitekturvandring gennem den faldne by, fra Vestervold ind over Dronning Louises Bro til Nørreport, Rådhuspladsen og Slotsholmen, efterfulgt af Christianshavn, Islands Brygge og til sidst DR-byen og Ørestad. Han er uddannet grafiker og billedfortæller, men har i mange år arbejdet med arkitektur, blandt andet som modelbygger. Denne baggrund fremstår klart af de skarpt stiliserede gengivelser af byens topografi, gennem hvilke diagonale snit opdeler før og efter katastrofen.

Billederne er tegnet som vektorgrafik og trykt i to pantonefarver, henholdsvis blågrøn og rød samt, når de blandes, en sortviolet tredjefarve. At tegne sådan er afsindigt arbejdskrævende, hvilket forklarer, at bogen har været over ti år undervejs, men det retlinede resultat forløser på bevægende vis Skovgaards kærlighedserklæring til det byggede miljø generelt og København specifikt.

Læs hele anmeldelsen her hvis abo, og lyt til det seneste afsnit af Radio Rackham, om vores sommerlæsning, i hvilket vi også diskuterer bogen.

Radio Rackham: Frækhedens evangelium


I denne episode af Radio Rackham snakker Frederik, Thomas og jeg med Dennis Meyhoff Brink om religionssatirens europæiske historie. Dennis forsvarede sin PhD om emnet ved IKK på Københavns Universitet i efteråret men har længe markeret sig som uhyre velartikuleret specialist på området. Som det naturligt følger med seriøst historisk arbejde, beriger hans indsigter forståelsen af vor tids debatter om religionskritik, ytringsfrihed, Muhammedtegninger, cancel culture og meget andet. Lyt og læs mere på Nummer9.

Radio Rackham: Young Adult


Jeg var fanget i Londons undegrundsbane, så jeg nåede ikke optagelsen, men Thomas og Frederik håndterede selvfølgelig opgaven upåklageligt; de diskuterer Raina Telgemeiers Kvalme, eller på engelsk Guts (2019), der er blevet den storsælgende amerikaners meget forsinkede debut på dansk. Den indskriver sig i den undergenre af børne- og ungelitteraturen, der disse år dominerer markedet: young adult.

Programmet gæstes af børneliteratur-ekspert Kathrine Pachniuk og forfatter Sabine Lemire, hvis prisbelønnede serie med Rasmus Brenghøi Mira bl.a. også får ord med på vejen. Og 9-årige Esther Hedeager Krarup giver et fornemt handlingsresume! Lyt her og læs mere på Nummer9.

Radio Rackham: Fantask 50!


Den her er tæt på hjertet! Vi fejrer Fantasks store jubilæum i vores program. Henry, Frederik, Thomas og jeg er gået all in med en stribe interviews, herunder med stifterne Rolf Bülow og Søren Pedersen samt den nuværende ejer Marit Nim. Dertil kommer (naturligvis) Marvel-Morten Søndergård, webmester Mads Stoumann og ven af familien Lars Boye. Samt kunder!

Det har været både hårdt og virkelig sjovt at lave og endnu engang tage turen ned af Erindringsvej! Og husk, det er i morgen, der er fest i Skt Pedersstræde 18, med fortsættelse på lørdag. Jeg ville ænske jeg kunne sige, at vi ses, men jeg er bortrejst så må nøjes med at drømme mig dertil. Med et livs erfaring som kunde og medarbejder burde det imidlertid ikke være et problem. Længe leve Fantask!

Lyt her og læs mere på Nummer9.

Montana-prisen


Jeg er i år del af juryen bag Montana-prisen, dagbladet Informations litterære pris tildelt nyskabende dansk litteratur fra det forgangne år. Vi otte medlemmer har hver nomineret et værk og nu hvor jeg har læst mig igennem feltet kan jeg kun istemme litteraturredaktør Peter Nielsens beskrivelse af det som et virkelig stærkt felt. Du kan læse om det her.

Jeg selv har, som gruppens tegneserierepræsentant, nomineret Halfdan Piskets Døden — en bog der sagtens kunne være mislykket, det uundgåelige spøgelse, hans forgående store Dansker-trilogi har skabt taget i betragtning, men som for mig virker som en art konsolidering af forfatterskabet, der udkrystaliserer mange det de grundlæggende kvaliteter i Dansker-trilogiens fremstilling af serieskaberens indvandrerfaders liv på en måde, der får dem til at stå klarere. Læs min anmeldelse her, hvis du har abonnement.

Fra i dag og fire uger frem diskuterer vi i fire grupper de otte nominerede værker (se flyer ovenfor). Jeg selv optræder sammen med Bodil Skovgaard Nielsen den 23 februar, hvor vi skal diskutere Døden og den allerede internationalt renommerede Niviaq Korneliussens Blomsterdalen. Vel mødt! Tilmelding her.

Prisvinderen annonceres 3 marts. Mere om det snart.

Fantask no more?


Meget tyder på at Fantask er slut. I fredag i sidste uge sendte Butikkens ejer Marit Nim en besked ud til Butikkens abonnenter om, at de lukker til sommer. Det satte i den grad fællesskabet i affekt — Benjamin Herbst fra Superhelten.dk igangsatte en GoFundMe for at støtte Butikken, i håbet om at det kunne forhindre en lukning. På under 24 timer var indsamlingen oppe på en kvart million, på mindre end en uge nåede vi en halv. Marit annoncerede som reaktion, at Fantask ikke lukker, men nok stadig må flytte fra adressen Skt Pedersstræde 18, hvor Butikken har ligget siden 1971.

Det virker helt sikkert. Fantasks stiftere Rolf Bülow og Søren Pedersen ejer lokalerne, som samtidig udgør deres pension. De har siden de afhændede butikken til Marit sikret, at hun kunne køre den på gode vilkår. At Marit så i sidste uge annoncerer at hun bliver nødt til at lukke, viser tydeligt at det ikke længere kan lade sig gøre uden større forandringer. Vi håber alle på det bedste, da Fantask jo i den grad må karakteriseres som en kulturbærende institution i Danmark — og en der har betydet enormt meget for enormt mange, herunder undertegnede, som endda en overgang arbejdede der.

Selvom det ikke er overraskende, gør det ondt at se Butikken kæntre her i den digitale tidsalder, hvor det i stigende grad er blevet vanskeligt at drive fysisk boghandel. Og det bringer alle minderne frem, i hvert fald hos undertegnede, men tydeligvis også for de tusindvis andre, der har lagt deres hårdt indtjente i hvad der nok snarere er en kærlighedserklæring til Fantask og et rygstød til holdet bag, end det er en realistisk redning. Lad os se, og Godspeed til alle de involverede, før og nu. Continue reading ‘Fantask no more?’

Leine og Mosdal i Information


I fredagens bogtillæg til Information kan man læse min anmeldelse af forfatter Kim Leines tegneseriedebut, Trojka 1: Skarabæens time som han har lavet sammen med den efterhånden garvede og altid interessante Søren Mosdal og som er første bind af en planlagt trilogi. Desværre er resultatet ujævnt og lidt skuffende.

Her er et uddrag:

[Det er] typisk Leine. Han har det med at anbringe sine mandlige hovedroller i ekstreme situationer og dermed tilspidse deres indre konflikt mellem drift og fornuft. I hans romaner forløber det imidlertid mere organisk, med plads til menneskelig uforudsigelighed, mens det her ekspliciteres i forklarende talebobler, nogle af dem alt for lange. Måske er det blot de startvanskeligheder, man kunne forvente i forbindelse med skiftet til et uvant medie, men det synes også at være gået lige lovlig hurtigt.

Umiddelbart skulle man tro, at Mosdal, skaberen af det dragende vikingeepos Fimbulvinter (2014) – der satte den tidlige Grønlandsfarer Erik den Røde under meget lignende pres – ville være den perfekte fortolker af Leines machounivers. Men desværre forvalter tegneren opgaven omtrent ligeså skødesløst som forfatteren.

Læs hele anmeldelsen her (men desværre kun hvis du har betalt).

The Week

From Kevin Huizenga's contribution to Kramers Ergot 7


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.

Read Tim Hensley’s, Ken Parille’s, Dan Clowes’ and Anders Nilsen’s words and visit the comments thread of Joe McCulloch and Chris Mautner’s obituary at the Comics Journal.

  • RIP also to the great Umberto Eco! Since this is already so comics oriented, here’s his famous piece on George Herriman’s Krazy Kat and Charles M. Schulz’ Peanuts.
  • Stupendous Secrecy and Potential Revelation

    “Distant mountains floated in the sky as enchanted cities, and often the whole world would dissolve into a gold, silver, and scarlet land of Dunsanian dreams and adventurous expectancy under the magic of the low midnight sun, On cloudy days we had considerable trouble in flying owning to the tendency of snowy earth and sky to merge into one mystical opalescent void with no visible horizon to mark the junction of the two.”

    My vacation reading has included a selection of Lovecraft stories. I hadn’t read anything by him since my teens/early twenties, when I devoured everything I could get hold of. And I’m now embarrassed to admit that I had subscribed to the commonly held idea that the world building was the thing and that he wasn’t a particularly good writer of prose.

    Upon rereading a good chunk of the latter, I am now ready to jettison that view entirely. There’s a marvelous rythm to his writing, almost as if its written in poetic metre, and although he consistently flaunts conventions about repetition, layering of adjectives, and what might be considered hyperbole, his baroque language is so beautifully wrought, so assertive in its own aesthetic logic, that I now cannot see how one might separate it from his fictional cosmography. His language is the at times monolithic, at times evanescent architecture by which his world achieves its logic.

    “The sailor Larsen was first to spy the jagged line of witch-like cones and pinnacles ahead, and his shouts sent everyone to the windows of the great cabined plane. Despite our speed, they were very slow in gaining prominence; hence we knew that they must be infinitely far off, and visible only because of their abnormal height. Little by little, however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious sense of fantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation. It was as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not help feeling that they were evil things—mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial, and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world.”

    Both quotes are from At the Mountains of Madness (1931). Image by Gutalin.

    The Week

    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.

    Links:

  • 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.
  • On The Mount — An interview with Gary Panter

    Jimbo in Purgatory


    This interview with Gary Panter was conducted over a crackling phone line in New York in the spring of 2004. Panter had recently released his magnum opus Jimbo in Purgatory, a reading via comics of the middle part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Purgatorio , via Boccaccio and a host of other classics of European literature — particularly of the medieval and renaissance eras — dressed in pop culture drag.

    Surely one of the most unusual works of comics of the past couple of decades, it is an incredibly dense and (let’s face it) difficult work. layered as it is in intertextual reference. But it rewards the committed reader, providing an oblique viewpoint upon the classical tradition, and not the least its humanist iteration as born in the late middle ages and developed through the renaissance to shape Western culture as we know it. Although its particulars may largely be forgotten today, Panter insists upon its currency and situates it at the heart of contemporary culture in what is merely the most hubristic manifestation of his ongoing efforts to break down the barriers between so-called high and low culture. By demonstrating that the two were always of a piece, fruitfully synthesized in multifarious ways through the early modern period, and alive and kicking today.

    The interview was originally published in Danish at Rackham back in 2004, and was followed by my review of the book, which we also reprinted here recently. We named Jimbo in Purgatory Book of the Year back then, and the interview and review were at least in part an effort to get behind the scenes a little bit in order to unpack the work for the first-time reader, as well as to provide a little extra for Panter connoisseurs. I hope we succeeded, even if Panter’s subsequent edits never made it to my inbox, leaving a few lacunae in my transcript exposed and unelucidated. A pity, but in a way not inappropriate.

    I’d like to start out by asking you about how the project came about. What prompted you to embark upon Jimbo in Purgatory? Which thoughts and ideas did you bring to it initially?

    Two things happened. The first was that I started reading Finnegans Wake along with the footnotes to it. Secondly, I started thinking about why I had named my first Jimbo collection, the Pantheon book, Jimbo in Paradise. It clearly had to do with Dante, but I’d never actually read Paradise, I hadn’t read the Comedy. The reading of Joyce and the footnotes to it lead me to all this medieval stuff, all this satirical stuff, which really appealed to me, while Dante lead me to Boccaccio… Continue reading ‘On The Mount — An interview with Gary Panter’

    The Week


    The week in review

    Another great drawing by Raphael is coming up for sale. Like the Female Head, which broke all records when it sold for £29 million in 2009, it’s a so-called auxiliary cartoon for his last great, large-scale work, the Transfiguration (begun 1516, finished after the master’s death in 1520) now in the Vatican. Coming from one of the greatest private collections — accessible to the public — of drawings in the world, that of the Duke of Devonshire, it’s a well-known and justifiably famous drawing. It’s kind of sad that the Duke occasionally sells off his drawings in this way, potentially occluding great work such as this from public view.

    It shows the head of one of the apostles, and was probably used as a visual supplement to the drawn cartoon used in the studio to transfer the composition to the panel. Like the Female Head, it shows pounce marks (the little dots along the contours), which one would expect to be evidence that it was transferred off the present sheet, probably to the final panel (coal dust is pounced through little holes, transferring the composition in outline), but the marks do not seem at all to follow the contours of the drawing, which seems to me indication that an outline design was transferred onto the present sheet and then reworked into the drawing we see.

    Not having seen the drawing in the flesh, I’m far from certain about this, and I haven’t consulted the literature either, so I may just be talking nonsense here. I just find the drawing exciting, with its smoky chiaroscuro suggesting strong light falling from the right, picking out the cranial features and accentuating the melancholy aspect of the young man. Lips parsed, tussled hair, young beard, intelligent but passive.

    The drawing’s estimated price of between £10-15 million reflects the kind of drawing we’re dealing with here: a large, highly finished piece by one of the defining artists of the Western tradition — the kind of work that only comes up for sale extremely rarely, despite what the 2009 sale would seem to indicate. One question is whether it’ll reach the same, frankly unbelievable price that sheet fetched. Judging by quality I think it should: it appears to me a more finely rendered and subtly beautiful drawing than the Female Head, which is beautiful but slightly rote by Raphael’s standards. This is the same type of drawing, but shows more invention and, I think, carries a greater emotional charge.

    Anyway, let’s see what happens at the sale. I hope the Getty or some other wealthy public institution steps in.

    Links:

  • Salman Rushdie on the repressive culture of offense and fear. With the release of his memoirs coinciding fortuitously with the tragic international flare-up of unrest related to that idiotic video on the prophet Muhammad, Danish TV programme Deadline broadcast this interview with the author, recorded the week before. Also: read Bill Keller on Rushdie and the controversy.
  • The anniversary of hate at the Hooded Utilitarian continued this week, with some really good pieces, led by Isaac Butler’s savage critique of Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, which also sparked fascinating discussion. Craig Fischer’s piece on David Small’s Stitches was also good. Plus it was nice to see the inimitable Tom Crippen writing again.
  • Henry Sørensen interviewing Morten Søndergård on fifty years of Spider-Man. This now completed extended dialogue is a really great read, but is unfortunately only available in Danish. But do check it out if you can read the language, part one, two, three. Totally unrelated: Xavier Guilbert’s interview with Anders Nilsen is in English, and good!
  • Comics of the Decade: Gary Panter’s Jimbo in Purgatory


    This is part of a Metabunker series celebrating a great decade in comics with Rackham by reprinting select reviews of the decades’ best comics from the Rackham archive, along with a number of new pieces.

    Thus the unfacts, did we posses them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

    – James Joyce

    In the twelfth canto of Purgatorio, the last step on the way before Dante can put behind him the burden of pride and rise up to the second terrace of Mount Purgatory, he stumbles — stooped and strained by sin — on an enormous comic, cut into the rocky pavement.

    The comic tells the story of vanity and presumption from the dawn of time to the Biblical era. He is thus given the opportunity to reacquaint himself with the story of Niobe, Queen of Thebes, whose aggrandizement of her seven children over the goddess Leto’s two, lost them to the arrows of the gods and was transformed into a statue. Or the tale of the weaver Arachne who was punished for besting Pallas Athena with her art had to spend the rest of her life spinning webs as a spider. Or the tale of the Syrian warlord Holophernes who gave himself over to the murderous hands of the avenging Israelite Judith, or – not the least – the story of King Nimrod of Babel left broken on the plain of Shinar, his aspirations struck down in bitter confusion of language.

    Gary Panter’s commentary track in comics, Jimbo in Purgatory, substitutes a diagonally placed tapestry of fifties B-movie posters for Dante’s comic. Standing in for the poet is his recurrent, Candide-like muscle man Jimbo, whose origins trace back to the early seventies, while Dante’s guide on the mountain, the Roman poet Virgil, is replaced by Jimbo’s parole officer, the box-shaped robot Valise. The angel who descends on them from the mountain and tells them about the transience of all life appears here in the form of the robot woman from Fritz Lang’s SF parable Metropolis (1927).

    Panter’s version of the conversation is a fragmented jumble to Dante’s moving reflection on human worth. An exchange of classic nonsense and raunchy limericks stitched to samples from Boccaccio, Chaucer and Milton. The result is a poetic confusion of meaning in which twentieth-century pop artifacts are tried in the court of the classics, read in eclectic zigzag to engage only halfway tongue-in-cheek the questions raised by the source material. Continue reading ‘Comics of the Decade: Gary Panter’s Jimbo in Purgatory’