Archive for the 'articles and essays' Category

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Comic Transformations – Töpffer and the Reinvention of Comics in the First Half of the 19th Century

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To mark the recent release of David Kunzle’s long-awaited collection of Swiss comics pioneer Rodolphe Töpffer’s comics work, as well as his monograph on Töpffer the cartoonist (read our review here), the Metabunker hereby presents the following introduction to the comics of Töpffer. It should be noted that the text is a slightly edited version of an essay I wrote as part of a class on the history of the print at the CUNY Graduate Center, Fall of 2004. It was supervised by Prof. Patricia Mainardi, who by the way recently wrote this informative article on the development of comics in the 19th Century.

Enjoy!
Continue reading ‘Comic Transformations – Töpffer and the Reinvention of Comics in the First Half of the 19th Century’

The Child and the Giant – On Alex Toth and David Mazzucchelli

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Amongst the handful of significant cartoonists that worked for Warren Publishing during the 70s, Alex Toth stands out. He created some of his best comics for the publisher, despite often working from mediocre scripts. As a rule, the best of them are the ones he did in collaboration with Archie Goodwin, but there are other notable gems in the oeuvre. One of them is the story ”Daddy and The Pie” from Eerie #64 (1975), drawn on the basis of a well-written if somewhat banal script by Bill DuBay.

The 8-page comic tells the story of a farmer’s family that one night recovers a gigantic alien, who has crash-landed his spaceship in one of their fields, and helps his recovery. A friendship develops between them and their Earth-struck guest, whom they name ’Pie.’ The neighbours, however, are not happy about the stranger’s presence, which creates rising tension in the community and culminates with Pie sacrificing himself to save the life of his host, the farmer. The narrator of the story is the farmer’s son, a little boy who finds inspiration in the examples of his father and the stranger. Continue reading ‘The Child and the Giant – On Alex Toth and David Mazzucchelli’

Natasja 1974-2007

little_t.jpgToday brought incredibly sad news. Danish dancehall queen Natasja Saad has died in a car crash in Jamaica.

A fixture in Danish hip hop, reggae and dancehall since the late eighties, when she performed on stage for the first time, she had both an astonishing talent and true star quality. I first saw her on stage in 1989, opening for Ice-T and the Rhyme Syndicate at the now long gone, classic venue Saga in Copenhagen. Perky and energetic, she already had her tight ragga flow and distinctive rascally delivery down, totally outshining the older MC, J-Sun, whom she was sharing the stage with. In the following years she was ubiquitous on the Copenhagen hip hop scene, performing with Karen Mukupa (and, at the beginning also MC Emcee) as the group No Name Requested as well as delivering numerous guest shots at other people’s shows and recordings. Her tenacity, vigour and sheer talent on stage was impressive and though I didn’t always dig her music, she remains one of the artists from that period I respect the most. Continue reading ‘Natasja 1974-2007′

Raphael’s Portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici: A Case of Visual vs. Documentary Evidence

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The portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici, Duke of Urbino (1492-1519), coming up for sale at Christie’s on the 5th of July is an interesting case study in the perpetual problem in art history of reconciling visual and textual evidence. I have just visited Christie’s in London and examined the painting. It is obviously a severely damaged, extensively restored painting, but it is still quite beautiful. To me it looks like it was substantially painted by Raphael himself, but things are unfortunately not so easy. Continue reading ‘Raphael’s Portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici: A Case of Visual vs. Documentary Evidence’

Hype: Kosmorama #239: Animationsfilm


Danmarks ældste og bedste filmtidsskrift Kosmorama er ude NU, med et stort temanummer om animationsfilm. Bladet – eller retteligt: bogen – er spækket med spændende og indsigtsfulde artikler om det gamle og det nye, om det kendte og det obskøne, det fede og det, der bare er forgæves. Sidstnævnte tager denne skribent sig bramfrit af i publikationens afsluttende indslag, hvor tegnefilmen som udtryksform slæbes gennem mudderet – strengt men retfærdigt. Klik her, og læs første halvdel af svadaen ganske gratis. Kosmorama forhandles bl.a. af Filminstituttet, og kan købes i Cinematekets boghandel.

Tak i øvrigt til redaktionen, som var så letsindig at give mig lov til at supplere mit essay med ovenstående, barnlige skribleri (her gengivet let modificeret).
Continue reading ‘Hype: Kosmorama #239: Animationsfilm’

Scribblings of the Comics Fawn

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All right, so I finally read Joann Sfar’s latest sketchbook comic, Greffier, which collects his comics form transcripts of the Charlie Hebdo trial at the Parisian Correctional Court earlier in the year (February 7-8, to be exact). This was the trial in which three Muslim organizations, the French Union of Islamic Organisations (UOIF), the International Islamic League, and the Great Mosque of Paris, sued the venerable weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for defamation of a religious group by having published the infamous Danish Muhammed cartoons, as well as adding to the mix a cover by Cabu showing the Prophet, in January 2006. Charlie Hebdo, whose lawyers asserted their right to publish the cartoons under the principles of free speech, was — thankfully — acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Sfar writes in his introduction to the volume: “I’m neither a journalist, nor an editorial cartoonist. I wanted to take notes as a comics author. To document the entirety of the debate. Not just the essential parts”. He wants to convey the entire experience of a courtroom trial. Unfortunately, he fails quite egregiously at this. Continue reading ‘Scribblings of the Comics Fawn’

Hvad er en tegneserie? (betaversion)

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Det følgende er ikke en formfuldendt artikel, men en let redigeret tekst hentet ud af en debat i Rackhams nu lukkede forum fra december 2002. Den omhandler det kronisk genkommende og ganske umulige problem at definere hvad en tegneserie er. Der tages forbehold for uklarhed, uvished og umulighed… og groteske mængder tankestreger. Continue reading ‘Hvad er en tegneserie? (betaversion)’

Hogarth’s Chicken Fat

marriage_front.jpgLast week, I finally got the time to check the Hogarth show at the Tate. A very egalitarian and attractive retrospective of his career and oeuvre with equal attention paid to the bourgeois and the burlesque, the benevolent and the biting. Almost all of his most important work is assembled there, and it is a unique treat. One of the things I most enjoyed was observing and enjoying the richness of his visual ideas – the enormous amounts of ‘chicken fat,’ to use that maddest of Mad-artists Will Elder’s apt term, lining his pictures. Continue reading ‘Hogarth’s Chicken Fat’

Prototype or Parallel?

michelangelo_titian_madonnas_t.jpgOne of the discontents of art historical connoisseurship is how we, the practitioners, have been trained to hunt for the prototype of any given invention. We are so used to seeing precedents everywhere, even when dealing with some of the most original and inventive artists ever, that we sometimes forget how unpredictable art, and creativity, can be. If an earlier likeness of a given detail in a work of art can be identified, it seems the latter has to derive from it. This sometimes results in daring feats of historical contortionism on the part of scholars trying to establish how the artist can have seen and copied, or at least internalised, the prototype. As if coincidence is impossible and he could not have come up with it himself. Continue reading ‘Prototype or Parallel?’

Rindom Redux: Barks i 70erne

djaevelens_tand.jpghugtand.jpgI forbindelse med mine undersøgelser af danske udgivelser af Carl Barks’ Anders And, dengang bølgerne gik højt i forhold til den stadigvæk skandaløst ringe tilrettelagte Carl Barks Samlede Værker (CBSV) fra Egmont, fik jeg bekræftet hvad jeg havde hørt: at de danske oversættelser af historierne fra førsteudgaverne i Anders And-bladet mellem 1946 og sen-60erne, udført af den skattede Sonja Rindom, blev justeret på ganske markant vis i løbet af 70erne, i forbindelse med genoptrykningen af dem i Anders And & Co. og måske også med deres udgivelse i den enestående grimt tilrettelagte, men i det mindste folkelige samleudgave i albumformat, serien ”Bedste Historier om Anders And” (BHAA).

Det der med det samme slog mig var, at oversættelserne ofte var bedre efter denne justering. Ofte, men ikke altid, vil jeg straks tilføje. Der er også er den del eksempler på unødvendige ændringer og til tider endda forringelser. Justeringerne repræsenterer gennemgående en mere fri fortolkning af originalteksten end den i førsteudgaven, hvilket fra en puristisk synsvinkel er problematisk, men rent faktisk ofte rammer historiens nerve bedre end den mere tekstnære tilgang, førsteudgaven bød på. Continue reading ‘Rindom Redux: Barks i 70erne’

The Saved

ng_st_petermartyr.jpgI recently read two very moving books, both classics of World War II-literature. One was Italian chemist Primo Levi’s relentlessly frank first-person account of life in the camps, If This Is A Man (aka. Survival in Auschwitz, 1947), the other was the collected letters and diary entries of young Danish seaman and resistance fighter Kim Malthe-Bruun, Kim (1945). Read together, they chart different parts to survival and salvation and suggest why the two should not be confounded. Continue reading ‘The Saved’