Friday this week finally sees the kickoff of what promises to be the best comics festival ever in Denmark. For the fourth time round, the Copenhagen comics biennial, Komiks.dk, offers a programme that seeks to span the breadth of the comics medium and features a fantastic lineup of international guests. In step with their mounting ambitions, the festival organisers have brought the event to a bigger and better venue than previous years — Øksnehallen, in the heart of Vesterbro and close to the city centre.

And the programme is a significant improvement on that of earlier years. The headliner arguably is the great American triumvirate of Chris Ware, Dan Clowes and Charles Burns, rivalled only by the trio of true brits Dave Gibbons, Kevin O’Neill and Frank Quitely. Add to this a host of other cartoonists, including a couple of interesting younger German artists, Line Hoven and Arne Bellstorf, and all the way from Japan, Keitarō Arima. The venerable French-Belgian mainstream is held down by Jean van Hamme and Bernar Yslaire, while the virtuosic Dutch chameleon Daan Jippes will be reppin’ both that tradition, and the many others he has tried his hand during the course of a long career.

Komiks.dk is the major event in Danish comics and it always brings with it a host of new releases. This year, we will for example see the long-awaited Danish publication of Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan from Aben Maler, as well as Burns’ Black Hole from Fahrenheit. Aben Maler also has Clowes’ brand new book, Wilson, on offer, and both publishers are serving up a number of remarkable new Danish releases.

I myself will be taking part in a number of activities. Firstly, I’m involved in the planning of an academic conference, entitled Contemporary Comics, at the University of Copenhagen, which you will already have heard about if you’re a regular reader here. The main organiser is Rikke Platz Cortsen, Ph. D. student at the Department of Art and Cultural Studies and we’re very proud of the programme we’ve put together, which you can check out on the official website, and not the least of its centrepieces, a keynote address by Canadian comics scholar and Jacques Samson and an on-stage conversation between Paul Gravett and Chris Ware.

This all takes place on Friday and would be the perfect way to warm up for the festival proper — so if you’re around, do turn up (pre-booking is not required). That same night is the festival’s launch party at Øksnehallen, where the official Komiks.dk awards, selected by a jury (which includes yours truly), will be handed out. The festival proper runs through Saturday and Sunday and the full programme can be downloaded here.

By now it is, of course, totally apparent, that this is far from an unbiased presentation, so I will take the opportunity to hype especially the activities of the Bunker’s denizens over the weekend:

11.30-12-30 (Area D):
Yours truly in conversation with Chris Ware.

14.30-16.00 (Area D): Me again, this time with Paul Gravett, as moderators of a panel on art comics and the graphic novel featuring Charles Burns, Dan Clowes and Chris Ware.

15.30-16.30 (Area A): The Arbiters of Taste — Thorhauge moderates a panel of distinguished Danish cultural critics, who will review a number of selected publications live.

15.00-16.00 (Area A):
Danish comics publishing now. Thorhauge moderates a large panel of representatives from nearly every Danish comics publisher.

16.00-17.00 (Area C): Live analysis of comics. Jacques Samson and a panel of comics scholars will analyse and discuss a number of comics pages and sequences live. Moderated by either myself or Rikke Cortsen.

In addition to this, I of course recommend author/critic Benni Bødker’s conversation with Charles Burns on Sunday (Area D) at 15.00-16.00, and Mr. Aben Maler, Steffen Maarup’s ditto with Dan Clowes — same day, same space — at 16.30-17.30. And there’s of course a lot of other interesting events, so check out the full programme.

Oh, and Thorhauge has an exhibition of his current newspaper strip for Politiken, True Story, up in the exhibition area.

See you there?

Pictured above is the poster Chris Ware has made for the festival and an image of it in situ on a wall in Copenhagen, courtesy the Thor Hawk.