Tag Archive for 'Thomas Thorhauge'

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

The Week

Paolo Veronese, The Conversion of Mary Magdalene, about 1548, oil on canvas, 117.5 x 163.5 cm. London, The National Gallery.


In a couple of weeks’ time, we’re opening the first major show of the works of Venetian Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese in decades at the National Gallery. Although it falls within my area of responsibility and will therefore occupy much of my time for the next few months, it’s an exhibition I have had nothing to do with, having started at the gallery only a few months ago. But needless to say one I’m looking forward to immensely: it’s a privilege thus to be dropped into the midst of a great project on an artist of immense generosity.

It’s not just that his pictures pull out all the stops, that his art is a rarely paralleled display of elegance, magnificence, and virtuosity, it’s that there is something profoundly touching about those qualities in his work. He is one of the few artists who really understood the lessons of Raphael. His immaculate sense of composition, his grasp of form, two- as well as three-dimensional, his sensitive use of gesture, and the subtlety of his portrayal of human interaction are all elements in what seems to me a distinctly civilising art, to paraphrase Kenneth Clark’s characterisation of Raphael. Contemplating Veronese is not only a joy, it makes you feel better about life and who we are.

That’s the high register. Keep an eye on the NG website for further thoughts and more concrete analysis during the course of the exhibition. I’ll keep you posted here and on twitter.

Links:

  • “There Are Good Guys and Bad Guys.” Bhob Stewart’s classic essay on/obituary of Wally Wood reprinted at the Comics Journal to mark the passing of its author. RIP. Read it, it is one of the most evocative, personal texts of its kind in comics. Really brings the great, flawed cartoonist to life.
  • Nikoline Werdelin interviewed. Arguably the greatest living Danish cartoonist, Werdelin has rarely if ever been interviewed about her comics (she has often talked to journalists about other things — life, style, death, and everything in between), so this in-depth, work-oriented interview by Thomas Thorhauge is a major scoop. Unfortunately it is only available in Danish, as is indeed the case with most of her work. English readers can sample her in From Wonderland with Love.
  • Finally, this uncredited photo, from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, is arresting, sobering, terrible. A reminder that something has to be done there. A no-fly zone blocking the government’s use of their air force remains a good place to start.
  • Flix: The Comics Museum at Storm P.


    As recently noted in this space, the holdings of the Danish Comics Museum, collected over three decades by its founder Anders Hjorth-Jørgensen, have now entered the Storm P. Museum in Copenhagen. In short, this means that its future is secured at a State-approved institution with everything that implies in terms of conservation, development and research. A milestone event in Danish comics and one we in the Danish Comics Council, who have helped midwife the process, are happy to see come to fruition.

    These photos provide at panorama of the guests at last night’s reception, pretty much a who’s who of a certain set of generations in Danish comics. Many of the creators, editors, publishers, and retailers of the seventies and eighties, contemporaries of Hjorth-Jørgensen, showed up to celebrate. It was great to see them all. A the mic, Iben Overgaard, director of the Storm P. Museum, initiated the proceedings, and she was followed by Thomas Thorhauge, chairman of the Danish Comics Council, and Hjorth-Jørgensen himself, both of whose speeches are excerpted in the videos below. Continue reading ‘Flix: The Comics Museum at Storm P.’

    Comics at the Copenhagen Book Fair

    Kinda unrelated: yrs. truly interviewing Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, and Charles Burns along with Paul Gravett, at Komiks.dk 2010. Photo by Frederik Høyer-Chr.


    This weekend sees the Copenhagen Book Fair, or Bogforum — the book event of the year in Denmark. This year, the fair has moved to Bella Center in Amager to accommodate the crowds. Let’s hope people who have gotten used to the proximity afforded by the traditional venue, Forum, at border of Frederiksberg.

    Comics have always been represented at the fair in some measure, but this year sees an unprecedented amplification of their presence, in that the Danish comics grass roots organizations have been given a large area in which to set up for free. The Danish Comics Council and the festival organisers in Copenhagen Comics have teamed up with The Association of Danish Comics Creators, the Ping Awards, the Blågård library, and the Goethe Institute to create a nexus of all Danish comics realities at the fair.

    We provide extensive programming consisting of live drawing by a range of Danish artists throughout the whole event, as well as interviews with creators, workshops for children, a relaxing reading area, and other surprise goodies. To see the whole programme, please visit the website of the Danish Comics Council, and please drop by — we’ll be in area e-006.

    Thomas Thorhauge on Jørgen Leth in True Story


    Also, Thomas Thorhauge, chairman of the Danish Comics Council and sometime Bunker contributor will be participating in the general programming, being interviewed by the great Jørgen Leth — writer, critic and filmmaker (The Five Obstructions) — at 3.40 pm on Friday ‘under the clock’ in area C2-023. They will be talking about his newspaper strip on film, True Story, which was collected in book form last year as Det sidste ord. Not to be missed.

    With writer Benni Bødker, Thorhauge is also participating in an interview on the recently published YA book Djævlens øjne, which he illustrated. That’s Saturday at 3pm at the childrens’ stage, after which the two of them will be signing their book in area C3-038. Check out the whole programme here.

    I hope to see you there!

    The Week


    The week in review

    Whew! What a week. It seems the great things that have been brewing in Danish comics for the last few years are finally starting to make waves, what with a year of excellent and innovative homegrown comics, the resurrected Ping Awards, plans proceeding for an official educational track for comics makers at the fine Animation Workshop in Viborg, and the ambitious further development of the comics festival Komiks.dk, which has now changed its name to Copenhagen Comics and will once again be held in Øksnehallen, Copenhagen, in 2013 — bigger and better than ever, if the current signs are to be believed.

    It’s all still baby steps of course, and there’s a long way to go before we can talk about genuine consolidation in terms of financial security or cultural clout. As things are, much of all this is run on a volunteer basis and a shoestring budget and it remains hard to muster the support, public or private, for comics accorded to other art forms in the country.

    Still, the will seems to be there and good comics continue to be made. The photo above is from the release on Thursday of sometime Bunker denizen and my long-time collaborator (and Danish Comics Council chairman, and Ping director) Thomas Thorhauge’s latest comic, Det sidste ord (‘The Last Word’). The book compiles a series of strips done for the film section of the daily Politiken from 2009-2010, adding two longer, similar strips from elsewhere as well as a brand new one.

    The concept is one that harks back to “M”, his contribution to BLÆK, an anthology we edited together in 2006 — a comic reprinted in English in the Fantagraphics/Aben Maler production From Wonderland with Love. Thomas takes authentic quotes from figures of interest and illustrates them in comics form. In the case of the Politiken strips, the focus is a diverse range of personalities from cinema. (One, on Godard, is republished in English here).

    In the newspaper, they were primarily fun, satirical mini-portraits of the celebrities involved, but taken together they become much more than that — Thomas has been sensitive to certain types of quotes, dealing with issues of vanity, desire, aging, legacy, and death, and has crafted from them an acutely personal statement on life, all the while producing a very funny book. A direct jump from his last book’s youthful aspirations to something anticipating mid-life reflection. Give it a (second) look.

    Photo by Frederik Høyer-Christensen. The entire set is here.

    This week’s links:

  • Obama on Iran. The American President talks to Jeffrey Goldberg in anticipation of his meeting today with the Israeli Prime Minster and his address at AIPAC.
  • Carl Th. Dreyer on his métier. Recorded at the Copenhagen cinemathèque in 1968, Dreyer answers questions from film students a few weeks before his death. Fantastic, although sadly not subtitled in English (yet?). (Thanks @monggaard!)
  • Matt Seneca on Guido Crepax. A passionate examination of the comics of the Italian master. Replete with rather shaky assertions, but great on observation.