Kurt Westergaard & The Danish People’s Party

Today, Kurt Westergaard — the (in)famous cartoonist behind the most disputed cartoon/drawing of the 21st Century — delivered a speech at The Danish People’s Party’s annual convention. Westergaard’s appearance was a total surprise; even his bosses at Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten weren’t informed (internal policy at Jyllands-Posten forbid its employees from participating in organized political affairs). According to several reports, Westergaard spoke of freedom of speech and of his experiences as a cartoonist on the run. The delegates and members of the Danish People’s Party cheered for Westergaard, as if he were one of their own. Westergaard himself stated that he “speaks his mind everywhere and anywhere” and added that nobody was going to tell him what to say and what to do.

Personally I don’t believe that Westergaard subscribes to the nationalistic and deeply right-wing views of the Danish People’s Party, but of course there shouldn’t be anything preventing any moderate or left-wing person from speaking at a right-wing Party’s convention. However, I honestly don’t think this was a smart move on Westergaard’s part. I myself work as a cartoonist/illustrator/artist, and speaking as a professional, I think Westergaard’s stunt was utterly disappointing.

Whither Goes the Bridgewater Collection?

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but since I’ve been away and all, I haven’t had the time to process this. It’s a rather major development in the British Museum world that could end up either to the great benefit or even greater detriment to the museum-going public. Basically, the Duke of Sutherland, who owns what is perhaps the most important collection of old masters still in private hands, has decided to sell some of the works in his collection. But before offering them on the open market, he has given the National Gallery of Scotland, where these works have been deposited and on display since 1945, the chance to acquire them at a favourable price.

Picks of the Week

“…you’re apt to find your thoughts returning again and again to a certain dark box in a certain Hilton half a world and three careers away, to the torture and fear and offer of reprieve and a certain Young Voter named John McCain’s refusal to violate a Code. Because there were no techs’ cameras in that box, no aides or consultants, no paradoxes or gray areas; nothing to sell. There was just one guy and whatever in his character sustained him. This is a huge deal. In your mind, that Hoa Lo box becomes sort of a dressing room with a star on the door, the private place behind the stage where one imagines “the real John McCain” still lives. But the paradox here is that this box that makes McCain “real” is: impenetrable. Nobody gets in or out. That’s why, however many behind-the-scenes pencils get put on the case, be apprised that a “profile” of John McCain is going to be just that: one side, exterior, split and diffracted by so many lenses there’s way more than one man to see. Salesman or leader or neither or both: the final paradox — the really tiny central one, way down deep inside all the other boxes and enigmas that layer McCain — is that whether he’s For Real depends now less on what’s in his heart than on what might be in yours. Try to stay awake.”

— David Foster Wallace, on McCain 2000.

The picks of the week from around the web. A little late this time around, due to traveling and such.

  • “The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub”. Remembering David Foster Wallace at his sad death by his own hand on Friday, I’d like to hype this piece from Rolling Stone on the McCain campaign trail in 2000. While perhaps a little overlong, it is not only eloquent, but presents singular moments of empathetic exposition, acute observation and clever analysis. It also depressingly reminds us how McCain 2008 is nothing like its precursor.
  • The Comics Journal enters Deitch World! For what is surely the best issue of the Journal in a long while, Gary Groth talks to the cartooning family of the Deitches: Gene, Kim, Simon and Seth. Only there wasn’t room enough in the magazine to print the entirety of the great interview with Kim, so here’s some more.
  • Berlatsky & Crippen. Two remarkable comics critics expand and join forces. Crippen has signed up with Berlatsky’s blog The Hooded Utilitarian and starts out with his 2007 memoir of fanboydom “True Believer”, while Berlatsky opens his new column at Comixology, A Pundit in Every Panopticon, with an essay on Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ and the transcendence of art. Good stuff.
  • Noboru Ôshiro’s “Train Journey.” Matt Thorn brings us scans of an astonishing work of exploratory sequential art, surely a precursor to Yuichi Yokoyama’s great Travel. Don’t miss it!
  • On the Zapiro Cartoon

    Published last week, the cartoon by Zapiro reproduced above has caused strong controversy in South Africa, indicting as it does not only ANC president Jacob Zuma and his allies, but implicitly the country’s justice system, which in a chillingly poignant twist of events has just thrown out of court on procedural grounds the charges of corruption that have followed Zuma for years.

    Conveniently Zuma, who has on several previous occasions sued Zapiro over his caricatures of him, now emphasises the importance of the freedom of the press, which probably means that the present kerfuffle will blow over, and is probably a good sign that no legal action will be taken, but simultaneously underscores the hypocritical nature of the most powerful man in, and virtually certain coming president of, South Africa.

    Re: The Graphic Novel Tradition

    Following last week’s post on the notion of a ‘graphic novel tradition’ in comics, French comics journalist and connoisseur Xavier Guilbert of the distinguished comics website du9 and I have corresponded on the implications of seeking to take the term seriously as a means of identifying and describing a certain way of thinking about the comics medium and how it has developed historically.

    As these things tend to do, the discussion was ended up a rather sprawling affair touching on aspects of the Franco-Belgian tradition, as well as how the term might be applied to Japanese comics. We hope you’ll enjoy, or at least take away something of interest from this. And, in any case, do let me know what you think about these issues!

    Hype: Mixed Double/JFK

    I dag udkommer en af årets sjoveste danske tegneserier, Mixed Double af Johan F. Krarup. Krarup har i løbet af 2008 markeret sig som den suværent mest produktive danske tegneseriefortæller, i januar med humor-samlingen Brunt (Brun Blomst), i juni den selvbiografiske Pibemanden (Aben Maler) og ‘No Title’ i antologien Son of a Horse vol. 2 (Son of Horse) og nu, med den 88-sider lange Mixed Double, understreger han sin position som en af tidens førende tegneseriefortællere. Metabunkeren tog en lille snak med ham i anledning af dagens udgivelse:

    Johan F. Krarup, fortæl om Mixed Double. Hvad er der på spil?

    Mixed Double handler ikke om tennis, men er en undskyldning for at lave et clash mellem fire ustabile mennesker. Jeg har givet hver af dem et handicap, som jeg udfordrer og undersøger gennem tegneserien. Der er en fx nørdet fingerbølsamler (han kunne også have været tegneseriesamler), der bor hos sin mor og er seksuelt uerfaren. Og så er der lystløgneren, den højtuddannede pige fra ‘den kreative klasse’ med eget galleri og egne komplekser og endelig mund- og fodmaleren, hvis personlighed er ligefrem og kynisk, men som for mig selv er svær at blive klog på.

    Biksen som Bastion

    Tegneserie-, SF- og spilbutikken Fantask overgår til ny ledelse pr. 1. oktober. Det er netop blevet annonceret, at stifterne Rolf Bülow og Søren Pedersen fra den dato trækker sig som ledere og overdrager faklen til Marit Nim, der efterhånden har arbejdet i butikken i 14 år og har administreret spilafdelingen en væsentlig del af den tid.

    Det lyder som en fornem løsning på den helt naturlige situation, at der måtte komme et generationsskifte i denne, en af de ældste og væsentligste institutioner i dansk tegneseriekultur. Rolf og Søren fortsætter i butikken nogen tid endnu og kan nu se frem til at se deres forretning videreført, også når de velfortjent trækker sig tilbage.

    Jeg tænkte jeg ville skrive lidt om, hvor meget Fantask har betydet for mig, og for dansk tegneseriekultur, men har ikke det store at føje til den tekst jeg skrev i anledning af butikkens 30-årsjubilæum tilbage i 2001 (oprindeligt trykt i Rackham #4), så den bringes hermed i ganske let redigeret udgave.

    Tillykke Rolf, Søren og Marit! Alt det bedste i fremtiden.