Tag Archive for 'The Comics Journal'

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Institution and Individual – French Satire at the Comics Journal


A new instalment on my lamentably irregular column on European comics, “Common Currency” is up over at The Comics Journal. It examines the winners in the two major categories at this year’s Angoulême festival — Abel Lanzac and Christophe Blain’s Quai d’Orsay vol. 2 and the work of Grand Prix awardee Willem, exemplified in his latest book Degeulasse. It is an attempt to tease out some of the tendencies in French satire, from the proudly idealistic to the coarsely individualistic. Go, read.

Remembering Kim Thompson

Photo taken by the author at SPX in 2004


I was incredibly saddened to learn of Fantagraphis co-publisher Kim Thompson’s death last week. At age 56 it is early to go and my deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. He shall be sorely missed, not the least within the field of comics where he made his mark.

Although I’ve written a proper obituary in Danish over at Nummer9, so much has been written about him online in English over the weekend that I won’t bore you with a translated version and instead merely refer you to the obituary up at the website of the magazine he helped shape, The Comics Journal, as well as to Tom Spurgeon’s helpful collection of links and selected works. Here are a few short personal reminiscences instead:

I didn’t know Kim well, but met him three or four times over the last ten to twelve years. I guess our common Danish heritage had some say, if nothing else in the projects we ended up collaborating on. In any case, it was a joy to hear him speak the language in his melodious, nineteen-fifties accent, preserved since his childhood as if in amber. Anyway, we collaborated on a few bits and pieces. He accepted (and even translated!) my first interview — with David B. — for The Comics Journal #275 back in 2005 and two years ago he accepted for publication at Fantagraphics the Nordic anthology I was editing, Kolor Klimax.

The book was financed by the Finnish Comics Society, but Kim’s swift acceptance of the project was a deciding factor in its success. I of course sent him samples of the content in advance, but he clearly trusted that I would put together a book that met his standards and not only took it on, but didn’t interfere with its production. The descriptions I’m now reading all over about his hands-off editorial style therefore ring true. It seems to me that his quality control lay in the initial selection of projects to take on — something he was clearly skilled at — after which he let people do their own thing, getting involved only in the copy editing, for which he had a unfailing eye. One thing he reminded me of with Kolor Klimax was the difference between English and continental European separation of numbers: the former employs full stops whereas the latter uses commas. Confusing the two is a common error with Nordic people otherwise proficient in English, he wrote to me.

We discussed a number of other projects, including ones on two of his favorite artists: Storm P. and Franquin. Whether these will ever see the light of day is now doubtful, of course. I would assume better chances for the former, however. Franquin, as Kim would often point out, simply does not seem to click with American readers, much to his bafflement. As things happened, our last ‘collaboration’, was on the Tardi feature in the latest Comics Journal (#302), for which I was given space to write about the masterwork 120 Rue de la Gare as a kind of coda to his career-spanning, revelatory and very human interview with Tardi. It was an honor, just as it has been a honor to know, however superficially, this kind, intelligent and hard-working man whose spark was a vital one in comics.

Dongery at The Comics Journal


Today at The Comics Journal the latest installment of my column on European comics, “Common Currency”, features the Norwegian cartoonists’ collective Dongery, specifically the monumental compilation of a decade and a half’s worth of fanzines, published last year. Hop on over there for a primer on some of the freshest stuff in comics right now.

Common Currency launches!


Today sees the publication of the inaugural article in my regular column on European comics for The Comics Journal, entitled Common Currency. It focuses on Fabrice Neaud’s recent turn toward genre comics, with the series Nu-Men, after two decades of uncompromising autobiography had brought him to an impasse. Go check it out here.

1nce Again: Angoulême

Signing in the L'Association stand, open again this year!


I spent last weekend at Angoulême and as usual I covered the festival for The Comics Journal. Here are my post for Friday and Saturday, dealing with the two astonishing shows (co-)curated by festival president Art Spiegelman, and here are my thoughts on the festival as a whole.

I travelled to Angoulême with representatives of the Danish comics site Nummer9 as well as the Danish Comics Council. We all took photos, and a selection of them are online in the Metabunker photo archive.

Speaking of archives, here are links to the full Rackham/Metabunker/Comics Journal coverage, carried out by Thomas Thorhauge and myself since 2001.

On Fantagraphics’ Carl Barks


Over at The Comics Journal my review of Fantagraphics inaugural volume of their edition of the complete Carl Barks Disney comics is now online. What do you think about the choices made for this edition?

The Angoulême Archive


We’re getting to that time of year when us Northern European comics fans head south to sample the first taste of spring in comics at the Angoulême festival. As in previous years, I will be covering the event for The Comics Journal, so peep their site for updates come Thursday and through the weekend.

I’ve been covering the festival off and on since 2001 for different media, and much of this coverage is online. Unfortunately, most of it remains consigned to more or less inoperative domains, such as my old mag Rackham and the “Classic” TCJ site that fell through the cracks when the new, much improved version went operative. I’ve therefore decided to assemble links to our (mine and Thomas Thorhauge’s) complete online coverage here, and — as you may have noticed from glancing at the flow of the blog today — even to import to the Bunker all of my TCJ coverage, just to have it accessible closer to home.

Here’s the timeline:

2001-2006 (Rackham):
The Complete Rackham coverage (in Danish)

2007 (The Metabunker):
The Metabunker coverage

2008 (The Metabunker):
On the Bunker’s non-presence at Angoulême 2008
The French “Comics Mafia” and other Follies
Shaun Tan Wins Book of the Year at Angoulême
Dupuy & Berberian — Grand Prix d’Angoulême
A Cornucopia of Cliché – review of Shaun Tan’s Book of the Year Winner The Arrival

2009 (The Metabunker):
The Metabunker coverage
Take Two: An Interview with Ruppert/Mulot

2010 (crossposted between TCJ.com and The Metabunker):
Angoulême
Angoulême 2010: Friday
Angoulême 2010: Saturday
Angoulême 2010: Aftermath
Angoulême 2010: The Flix!
“Everything I do, I do at an increasing risk” — An interview with Fabrice Neaud

2011 (TCJ.com, with additions at The Metabunker):
Angoulême 2011 at The Comics Journal.
Angoulême 2011: Friday
Angoulême 2011: Saturday
Angoulême 2011: Art Spiegelman Grand Prix
Angoulême 2011: Aftermath
Angoulême 2011: Flix!

Time Machine Go.

Take Two — An Interview with Ruppert/Mulot

From Sol Carrelus


The cartooning duo Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot are amongst the most remarkable emerging talents on the Francophone comics scene. A two-headed cartoon beast, theirs is an organic collaboration, melding writing and drawing. Their comics are possessed of a strong experimental formalism — elaborate analytical constructions, in which characters move and interact for our entertainment, as if in a petri dish. Continue reading ‘Take Two — An Interview with Ruppert/Mulot’

In the Mix (MoCCA 2011)

Jon Gorga and Palle Schmidt dipping underground at Bergen Street


So, still reeling a bit from the move and all the new stuff that’s happening elsewhere, but I did get the time to drop in for the MoCCA Arts Festival at the Armory last Saturday.

I particularly enjoyed it as an opportunity immediately to get acquainted with the New York comics scene and meet in person a number of people whose work I’ve been appreciating, and some of whom I’ve been corresponding with, over the last half decade or more. Continue reading ‘In the Mix (MoCCA 2011)’

Fabrice Neaud interview at The Comics Journal


I conducted an interview with the great Fabrice Neaud back in 2009, on the occasion of the publication of his ‘augmented’ version of his masterpiece Journal III. A candid conversation on art, life and the risks incurred in their intersection. It’s now up over at The Comics Journal.

Picks of the Week

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Better late than never: the new Comics Journal is off to a strong start, with plenty of interesting material posted in its first weeks. My favorites have been the first instalment of Ryan Holmberg’s history of alternative comics in Japan, Jeet Heer’s notes on racism in comics, Ken Parille’s reading of a story by Moto Hagio (smartly contested by Noah Berlatsky at HU), and Patrick Rosenkrantz’ history of autiobiographical comics.
  • No one does the comics numbers like du9′s Xavier Guilbert. And his annual analysis of the French-language comics market for the year 2010, published in January — his most detailed yet — is now available in English.
  • I also found this piece on an alleged American-run wartime concentration camp in Chonquing intriguing. The writer, Xujun Eberlein, admirably attempts to untangle decades of Chinese propaganda to figure out what actually went on there and to what extent Americans were involved in massacres against Chinese communists carried out in the area.
  • Above: Youth Magazine (May 24, 1970), cover drawing by Chiba Tetsuya, design by Yokoo Tadanori. From Holmberg’s article, linked above.