Tag Archive for 'Danish Comics Council'

The New Chairman

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

Comics at the Copenhagen Book Fair


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.

Live from the Ping Awards


You may remember me writing about the Ping Awards in this space. But briefly: the Ping Awards are awards given annually to comics in Denmark at an annual gala show. There was an older award of the same name, a reference to one of the great Danish cartoonist Storm P.’s (1882-1949) most famous characters, but the present incarnation was founded in 2012 by the comics website Nummer9 in collaboration with the Danish Comics Council, the international comics festival Copenhagen Comics, and the comics magazine Strip!

Works are nominated in six categories by comics critics from Nummer9 and Strip! and the winners are selected by a jury comprising representatives from each of the founding bodies, as well as a number of independent critics, writers, artists and comics professionals. You can read much more on the Ping website, albeit only in Danish. (Sorry).

Anyway, this year’s Ping Awards were given out at a show at Lille Vega held in conjunction with Copenhagen Comics on 1 June in Lille Vega Copenhagen. It featured appearances from such international luminaries as Jaime Hernandez and Jill Thompson, as well as hilarious acceptance letters from awards winners Chris Ware and David Mazzucchelli. A sampling of the event has now been made available by the Ping team in the video above. Enjoy, and get in touch if you would like to know more about the Ping Awards.

Danish Comics Go Museum!

Holger Philipsen wishes Storm P. a happy sixtieth in 1942


Denmark has a new museum for comics! Well, sort of, and as good as. As of today it is official: the collections of the long dormant Danish Comics Museum have now found a permanent home at the Storm P. Museum in Copenhagen. This means that the latter, a long-standing and well-respected museum dedicated to the greatest Danish cartoonist (1882-1949), now expands its scope to encompass comics as a medium and art form, with ambitions to maintain, expand and conduct research.

The man of the hour is Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen, whom one might call the Bill Blackbeard of Danish comics. Educated as a librarian, he was inspired early on in his career systematically to collect Danish comics publications, eventually amassing an expansive collection covering the century-long history of Danish comics, with a nearly complete collection of all comics published in Denmark since 1950. This collection formed the basis of the Danish Comics Museum, which Hjorth-Jørgensen opened in Gørlev, in Western Sealand, in 1993. The museum however closed its doors in 2001, living on in different makeshift incarnations, first at the nearby library, since at Kalundborg Museum, as well as a rich online resource on Danish comics.

As of now, the museum is no more. The collection has been transferred to the Storm P. Museum within which it will be titled the Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen Collection. The Storm P. Museum, under the leadership of director Iben Overgaard, has agreed to maintain and continue to build the collection, as well as make it available to scholars and the public at large. This is a major event in Danish comics, securing for posteriority this important piece of Danish cultural history, while further consolidating the Storm P. Museum as a central institution for Danish comics and cartooning.

The idea to thus secure the Hjorth-Jørgensen collection originated with the Danish Comics Council, with art historian Louise C. Larsen, journalist Søren Vinterberg, and yours truly midwifing the negotiations between the director of the Storm P. Museum and Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen. We are overjoyed with the agreement they reached. A great day for comics in Denmark.

Oh right, here I am talking about the news on Danish radio. And if you’re in town, do show up at the museum on 7 February at 5pm for the official reception, featuring live cartooning and much more.

Educating Comics Creators


It’s been several years coming, it has taken a lot of hard work, but now it is here: the first professional educational track for comics creators in Denmark. Today, The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark, announced their new four-year bachelor in graphic storytelling. And thus, a new chapter in Danish comics history seems to begin.

I believe this may well be a watershed for comics in Denmark. In our neighbouring country, Sweden, they have had two such programmes for over a decade and it has made a huge difference to local comics production, both in terms of quality and quantity. Although other factors have contributed, people in the know attribute the relative health of Swedish comics in large part to the schools in Stockholm and Malmö. So the potential here in Denmark seems evident.

For more than a decade, the Animation Workshop has been educating animators at a high level. It is an institution that enjoys great respect internationally, not the least because of its excellent guest lecturer/master class system. It is a primarily craft-oriented school, but the comics track is expressly defined as both market-oriented and auteur-driven. The idea is to educate cartoonists to develop their vision in comics form for application across as variety of media and platforms.

Director Morten Thorning and his team has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to have the programme approved by all the relevant instances. And we in the Danish Comics Council — particularly chairman Thomas Thorhauge along with Allan Haverholm, Lars Horneman, Kim Hagen, and Cav Bøgelund — have been along for the ride as consultants, instigators, and fellow advocates. Fruit of our labours and all that.

To read more about the new programme, please visit the website of The Animation Workshop. Non-Danes are more than welcome! And if you’re not already a member of The Danish Comics Council, please consider joining. Your membership makes a big difference to our work.

Illustration by Thomas Thorhauge.

Ping Resurrected!

Ping, by Storm P.

In collaboration with the Danish Comics Council the festival Komiks.dk and the Storm P. Museum, the Danish comics site Nummer9 is now resurrecting the Danish comics award, The Ping, named after the great cartoonist Storm P.’s famous sidekick character.

The Ping in its original iteration was awarded between 1986 and 1996 and was given to an individual for his or her contribution to Danish comics. The new Ping is rather different — it’s a set of awards given in multiple categories, much like the Eisners in the US or the Fauves in Angoulême, France. Nominees in six categories have been selected by the staff of Nummer9 with their votes tallied by Nummer9 editor-in-chief Erik Barkman, Comics Council president Thomas Thorhauge, and myself who therefore couldn’t nominate works ourselves. The winners will be selected by a jury, the members of which will be announced on 1 February and will be presented at an awards ceremony in Lille Vega, Copenhagen 28 February.

Among the nominees are some of the remarkable Danish comics published this past year, several of which are of such high quality that one might hope for international editions in the near future. You will also find nominated in two different categories a number of the best non-Danish comics of 2011. The full list can be seen here.

We’re very happy to announce the inauguration of Ping Resurrected, which would not have happened without the hard work of the great, hard-working organizing committee. Read more about them here. And do show up for the show — it’s going to be a great party!