Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Hype: Bunker Associates at CPH:DOX


Next week it’s time for this year’s CPH:DOX — the great international documentary festival held annually in Copenhagen. It’s always worth checking out the programme, and I urge you especially to consider two of the films being screened there, if nothing else because I can vouch for some of the people involved.

Firstly, director Ada Bligaard Søby will see her latest film, Complaints Choir opening there (more info here and here, plus I’ve written a little about her work here). I’ve been following Ada’s work for years now, and it seems only to be getting better with each new film, borne as it is by a distinct auteurial voice and a sensitive approach both to direction and editing.

Also, my pal Klaus Heinecke, has worked as editor on Turf War in No Man’s Land, directed by Suvi Andrea Helminen, which will be screened twice. Klaus usually picks quality projects, and it looks promising to me. The trailer’s posted above.

So check out the festival, and if you’re not in Copenhagen — keep an eye out for international releases of these films.

On the Mickey Mouse Plot

Today’s arrest of two men suspected of planning to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and Jyllands-Posten editor Flemming Rose, and to bomb the newspaper’s headquarters — apparently dubbed the ‘Mickey Mouse plot’ by their peers — all for the publication of those twelve dumb cartoons is a disquieting reminder that the madness continues.

It is also interesting to see how free speech fatigue is creeping in. In contrast to the last time a murder plot against Westergaard was apparently uncovered, in Februrary 2008, the major Danish newspapers have agreed not to republish any of the cartoons. This, naturally, is immediately being framed as a free-speech issue, which I guess is understandable with Yale University Press’ recent academic censorship in mind, but also somewhat tiring.

In February 2008 seemingly everyone in Denmark, including the Metabunker (although we quickly recanted), published the Bomb in the Turban, more as an act of solidarity with the beleaguered cartoonist than as documentation. This happened immediately, before anyone could be sure that there was anything to the plot alleged by PET, the Danish intelligence services (come to think of it, it seems we still cannot be sure to what extent the three men arrested posed a threat to Westergaard, since PET has kept pretty mum about the whole affair). In other words an understandable and to an extent sympathetic, if rash reaction.

The decision not to republish this time around is also understandable, even commendable, and should not be compared with YUP’s shameful decision. The cartoons have already been published ad nauseam and there seems little point in continuing to do so every time the case takes a new, exasperating development. Responsible free speech is also knowing when to speak.

Women in Comics in Cambridge

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This past Sunday saw a conference on Women in Comics at Murray Edwards College here in Cambridge. Organised jointly by the college and the particularly strong contingent of comics scholars at the University of Glasgow, it presented a full day’s programming of papers and artists’ talks to go along with an already planned exhibition by organiser and artist Sarah Lightman.

The main draw, certainly, were the artists’ talks. Melinda Gebbie spoke passionately about her career in comics and her work on Lost Girls in particular. Continue reading ‘Women in Comics in Cambridge’

Hype: I seriernas värld, Malmö

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If you anywhere near, do check out the extensive programme of the just opened, month-long comics festival I seriernas värld (‘In the World of Comics’) taking place in Malmö, Sweden until 22 November. It comprises many events, exhibitions, workshops and the like. Much more information here.

Illo by Johanna Kristiansson.

Picks of the Week

“Another gunman in the passenger seat turned and stared at us as he gripped his Kalashnikov rifle. No one spoke. I glanced at the bleak landscape outside — reddish soil and black boulders as far as the eye could see — and feared we would be dead within minutes.”

– David Rohde

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • New York Times. This week’s Pulitzer bid comes from David Rohde, whose five-part account of seven months spent as a hostage of the Taliban is gripping, necessary reading.
  • The latest in cartoon-fed free speech discourse. This seems a pretty solid, trenchant piece on the recent Yale controversy, which reveals interesting details that were previously unknown to me, while this is a rather disturbing notice of recent US legislation in the area that drowned somewhat in the newsfeed din this week. (Thanks Tom, Dirk).
  • Comics criticism. This great piece from Jog on the 70s exploitation flick of Mr. Natural and the Freak Brothers is top notch, and this blast from the past from Gary Groth is definitely worth (re-)reading, while our Danish readers should not miss Benni Bødker’s excellent review of Asterios Polyp.
  • Finally, I found this personal reminiscence from Ernie Colón on recently deceased cartoonist veteran George Tuska very touching.
  • Dave Gibbons til Komiks.dk

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    Ja, så har de gode folk bag komiks.dk afsløret endnu en udenlandsk gæst til næste års festival (21-23 maj, 2010), og det er ingen ringere end Dave Gibbons, der animerede klassiske 2000AD-strips som “Rogue Trooper” og fik Watchmen helt op at ringe med sine fuldkomment kongeniale tegninger og siden har stået for solide mainstreamtegneserier af forskellige slags. En mand med indsigt og stærkt fortællerinstinkt — det kan kun blive godt!

    Pressemeddelelsen kan læses her. Check dette korte Bunker-indslag om Watchmen, og husk at trekløveret Ware, Clowes og Burns også kommer til festivalen.

    Hype: Tegneseriesalon i Literaturhaus

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    Har allerede reklameret for arrangementet, men synes lige jeg ville smide den officielle flyer op.

    Hype: Thorhauge om Hergé

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    Check Thorhauges anmeldelse af Philippe Goddins Hergés liv og værk bind 2 ovre hos Politiken. Og samtidig kan I læse Bunkerens anmeldelse af Goddins store Hergé-biografi lige her.

    Biksen som Bastion

    Biksen som Bastion

    Om butikken Fantask og dens placering i det danske kulturbillede.

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    Picks of the Week

    Obama’s career up to now, lucky as it was, had been wanting in singular achievements for which he alone was responsible. His experience seems not to have taught him the law of natural selection in politics by which majorities are put together out of remainders. Any act that achieves something concrete will leave small multitudes of the disappointed keening but unheard. There are hurt feelings in politics, which only time can cure if anything can. This is a truth now staring at Barack Obama, on several different fronts, but he does not accept it easily. His way of thinking is close to the spirit of that Enlightenment reasonableness which supposes a right course of action can never be described so as to be understood and not assented to.

    – David Bromwich

    The picks of the week from around the web.

    Backlash week here at the Bunker.

  • London Review of Books: “Obama’s Delusion”. David Bromwich presents a thoroughly pessimistic assessment of the Obama adminstration’s performance so far. An interesting analysis of how centrist politics function in the warped context current political discourse, which points out a number of depressing compromises Obama has had to make to keep it together.
  • Wall Street Journal: “Media Moguls and Creative Destruction”. Former WSJ publisher and Dow-Jones VP L. Gordon Crovitz on how digital is changing the game for media. Nothing terribly new, but interesting to see a major media player describe how everything he knew to be true maybe isn’t anymore.
  • The Daily Telegraph: “It couldn’t get worse for Damien Hirst”, Mark Hudson reviews the reviews of the current Hirst paintings show at the Wallace Collection and cautiously predicts a change in the public attitude to celebrity art. Some of the points may be overstated slightly, but it’s nevertheless an well-conceived critique.
  • The Groovy Age of Horror: Interview with Benjamin Marra. Following up on aspects of the New Action Panel at SPX, Marra elaborates upon his notion of comics as low art in an essentialist mission statement that should ruffle some feathers. There’s hell of a lot to disagree with in what he says, but it’s an interesting development in the ongoing art-comics backlash.
  • George Tuska RIP

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    The great American journeyman comic book artist George Tuska has passed away at the age of 93. Tom Spurgeon’s obit is your one-stop for info (update: Mark Evanier now has a fine piece up too), but I just wanted to pay my respects here.

    I always associated Tuska’s style with toughness. There was a visceral quality to his draughtsmanship. His work spans almost the entire history of the comic book and there’s tons I have never seen, but some of my favorite stuff by him are the Captain America stories where he worked over Kirby layout (Tales of Suspense #70-74, 1965-66) — the King’s raw power and fluid storytelling rendered in long, resilient brushstrokes. A strange, rough break with the beautiful work by Kirby and Giacoia/Ayers that dominated that great run of comics, but still memorable. His subsequent work on Iron Man (#5-25, 1968-70) was also a high point, even if somewhat knocked off Gene Colan’s great example; strangely frenetic storytelling (nothing ever seems to be entirely at rest in those drawings) given an elegant less-is-more counterpoint by the inks of the great Johnny Craig.

    Rest in Peace.

    …Oh, another thing. Continue reading ‘George Tuska RIP’

    The Fingerprint of a Master?

    museo-ideale-leonardo-cp-53.jpgJust a short update on that gorgeous drawing, which is gaining recognition as a Leonardo at the moment, and which I wrote about briefly earlier this year. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse once again to run a picture here.

    Apparently, a forensic art analyst, Peter Paul Biro, has now found a fingerprint on it that he says corresponds with prints found on Leonardo’s unfinished Saint Jerome in the Vatican.

    I don’t know. There are still too many mysteries attached to this sheet for me to quite buy it: unusual support (vellum), unusual technique (coloured chalks), no provenance, and even the slightly too spectacular prettiness. But many people who know much more about Leonardo than I, including Martin Kemp who’s quoted in the article, seem to concur, and it is an extraordinarily fine-looking work.

    Picks of the Week

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    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Commonweal: “Culture and Barbarism”. Terry Eagleton offers a compelling analysis of today’s fault lines between secularism and religion, which he analyses in terms of a dialectic of civilization and culture. A thoughtful corrective to the new atheists and an unsettling entreaty for us to confront the worst in ourselves. Not new, but if you haven’t read it and are interested in the issues, it’s highly recommended (thanks, Noah!).
  • The New Yorker: “The Cost Conundrum” Again, this is not new, but the article has been an important reference point for the Obama administration’s efforts to argue the case for universal health care, and is pretty horrific reading. Slightly related, my new favorite conservative columnist, Ross Douthat on Obama’s somewhat ill-advised Nobel Prize.
  • The Independent: “Gore Vidal’s United States of Fury”. Highly entertaining profile/interview, by Johann Hari, with a great iconoclast, who amongst other things explains why he has no faith in the Obama administration, and once again adresses his beast of a mother.
  • Steranko: “The Block”. A gorgeous rarity, this didactic self-help comic from 1971 showcases Steranko’s chops in rendering the kind of gritty urban environment he would invariably insert into his mainstream comics. And once again, it becomes evident how much Frank Miller cribbed from this guy (thanks, Henry!).
  • Dansk Tegneserieråds Nyhedsbrev Oktober 2009

    Ja, så er der nyt fra Dansk Tegneserieråd. Vi udsendte i fredags vores seneste nyhedsbrev, hvor vi løfter sløret for hvad vi har foretaget os over sommeren.

    Der begynder at ske ting og sager, ikke mindst i forhold til etableringen af en dansk tegneserieuddannelse, og vi har som det fremgår også et arrangement på programmet: Tegneseriesalon i Literaturhaus, København, d. 15 november kl. 20.00, der med titlen “Tegneserien Anno 2009″ tager temperaturen på mediet lige nu. Udover en præsentation af Rådets arbejde, har vi inviteret en bred vifte af danske tegneseriekritikere til en diskussion af mediets tilstand og muligheder. Det drejer sig om Christopher Arzrouni, Hans Bjerregaard, Kristian Lindberg, Christian Monggaard, Jakob Stegelmann, Henry Sørensen og Søren Vinterberg, med ordstyrer Thomas Thorhauge. Sæt endelig kryds i kalenderen.

    Nå her er selve nyhedsbrevet: Continue reading ‘Dansk Tegneserieråds Nyhedsbrev Oktober 2009′

    Mr. Magic RIP


    This morning, Mr. Magic will be buried in Brooklyn. He died last week of a heart attack, at age 53. Pretty much the inventor of hip hop radio, John Rivas got his start on the airwaves with the “Disco Showcase” on New York’s WHBI in 1979, hosting under the moniker Mr. Magic. In 1982 he launched the now legendary show “Rap Attack” on WBLS along with DJs Marley Marl — who would himself become a legend as the producer and helmsman of the Juice Crew — and Fly Ty. The show ran from 1982-1984, and subsequently moved around, touching down at both WHBI and WDAS. It ended sometime in the late 80s.

    “Rap Attack” was the first spot on commercial radio where you could listen to hip hop and Magic launched many a career playing the demos of up and comers, some of whom would go on to great things. He quickly became associated with the Queens-based Juice Crew, which comprised such legends as MC Shan, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Craig G, Roxanne Shanté, and Master Ace. Several of these would become signature artists of 80s hip hop and remain amongst the genre’s greatest. Continue reading ‘Mr. Magic RIP’