The Nordic Network for Comics Studies (NNCORE) has been going strong for a year now. The inaugural conference in Odense last year brought lots of promise, bringing together dozens of scholars with an interest in comics. Many of these are now working in individual groups, some of which have held smaller seminar and colloquia over the past year, but next year’s the big one: a large-scale Nordic conference on comics to be held in Helsinki, on May 23-25. Everybody is invited, not the least you, especially if you have a paper to give. Read the call for papers here and here.
The conference marks the end of the network’s start-up period and of its initial funding obtained from the Danish Research Council. It will be an opportunity for the members to take stock and plan its future, as well as to open up further the field of comics studies in the Nordic countries. I hope you can make it!
The Week in Review
What a week. Starting with Fantask’s fortieth anniversary celebration last weekend and ending with my participation at NNCORE’s foundational meeting with a short Berlin jaunt to see the astonishing Renaissance portraits and Hokusai shows there. I hope to return a bit to the portraits (though I can’t promise anything), but just wanted to say a few words about Hokusai here.
A huge retrospective covering the artist’s eighty-plus year career, the show really brought home just how prodigious an artist he was. He must have been drawing all the time. The kind of artist whose ambition is to understand no less than everything about the world through drawing, like Leonardo or Dürer. From the proliferating analytical notations in his manga and other instructional booklets to the elegant summaries of his brush paintings, his is a recording of human experience as such. Not the idea of it, and not really with an attempt to comment, but rather a continuous ambition to formulate a vision that suspends it within a order that grasps it all without reducing it to style. In a sense, what all cartooning should aspire toward.
Questlove’s Top 10 Life-Shaping Musical Moments. As always writing with passion and insight the Roots backbone takes us down memory lane through the songs that shaped his life and work.
Ben Katchor on picture stories. The great New York cartoonist does something similar, if less personal, for comics here. A fine thinker about comics, his recommendations contain plenty of nutrient for your dome.
Eddie Campbell on Simon and Kirby’s romance comics. The same goes for this, which serves as a reminder just how much of his career Kirby spent creating reality-based comics, and how important the romance genre used to be for comics.
British comics scholars Laurence Grove and Ann Miller at the meeting.
These last three days saw the foundational meeting of the Nordic Comics Research Network (NNCORE)
at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.
Initiated by lecturer at the Department of History, Culture and Society Anne Magnussen, and funded by a grant from the Danish Research Council, the network seeks to develop relations between comics scholars in the Nordic countries. It is overseen by an advisory board comprising some of the foremost international comics scholars today and at present has a membership of a few dozen.
The meeting was characterized by optimism and friendliness and bodes well for the future of comics research in the region. Get in touch if you’re interested!