Yesterday, I wrote: “The most depressing thing about the silly kerfuffle over this week’s funny, if not particularly great New Yorker cover by Bary Blitt is the Obama campaign’s stuffy and thoroughly humourless reaction to it.” Since I don’t live in America and am thus blissfully unaware of the day-to-day stupidity of the media there, allow me to post a correction in the form of the above clip from The Daily Show with John Stewart. Hilarious and chilling all at once, like most great satire.
Golden Age comic book artist and long-time illustrator Creig Flessel — probably best known for his work on the original (and coolest!) version of the character Sandman — has just passed away at the age of 96. From what little I’ve seen of his work, I much prefer his rough, simple early comics work. There’s a rustic, gruff quality to his hatching and a certain fevered grimness that makes his covers as well as his pages stand out. He later developed a rather classical, rather conventional illustrative style that I’m less into, but an interesting, somewhat overlooked artist of the Golden Age. Here’s his wiki; Mark Evanier has the full obit.
Detail from the cover of Detective Comics #12 (1938), acquired from this gallery.
The picks of the week from around the web, a wee bit late this time around.
By Henry Sørensen
According to legend, Bob Dylan once chanced upon Leonard Cohen and praised him for his song “Hallelujah”. “Well, it oughta be good“, Cohen replied, “it took me 15 years to finish“. The always courteous Cohen then returned the praise by congratulating Dylan for his song “Every Grain of Sand”. “Thanks“, Dylan said smugly, “I wrote it in 15 minutes“.
Whether true or not, the story speaks volumes of the differences in both modus operandi and self-esteem between two of the greatest singer-songwriters of the past fifty years. And while the highly prolific Dylan embarked on his self-proclaimed never-ending tour many years ago – and may indeed be “going down that dirt road until his eyes begin to bleed” – the more seclusive Cohen simultaneously shied away from all public appearances, adding just three records of new material in the past twenty years to an already modest discography.
“The last time I stood on a stage was 14 years ago“, the 73-year-old Leonard Cohen told an enthusiastic audience last Saturday at Rosenborg Castle in the centre of Copenhagen, “I was just a 60 year old kid with a crazy dream!”
When the Wu-Tang Clan dropped the album 8 Diagrams last year, it seemed like something of a miracle, since the crew has been steadily disintegrating over creative and financial differences — a lot of them aired in in public — over the last few years. Now they’re on tour. All of them! But judging from last night’s show in London, they’re still far from the tightly knit unit they were in the mid-90s. Although they put on an energetic show, the cracks seemed to be showing.
When last week they played in Copenhagen, the reports from fans were poor to middling — basically they brought their well-known, little rehearsed, anarchic 10-odd dudes yelling on stage-approach to performing, which is good and well when it works, but less so when half of them aren’t up for it. The London show had one major advantage on the Copenhagen one, though: Method Man. Last week, he cancelled at the last minute, but here he was very much present, acting the natural centre of the proceedings and really giving it his all. Clear on the mic, charismatic and seemingly happy to be on stage, he made the concert.
Right, so nothing’s been happening in this space for ages. Sorry about that — been busy being home, and writing up Roskilde at that other site. I thought, however, that since the hangover has kind of passed and sleep has been caught up on, but a tinge of that signature elation still remains, I’d blog a little about this year’s festival before we move on.
All right, back from Roskilde, about which more soon. In the meantime, Chris Mautner has convened a new critics’ roundtable over at Blog@Newsarama, this time dealing with the problems of conflicts of interest arising from friendships and acquaintances between critics and artists in the comics subculture. Inspired by this post by Tim Hodler, Mautner asked a number of critics to express their take on this issue. Here’s my contribution:
I definitely recognize Tim’s sentiments, and have often had the same thoughts. The comics subculture, as mentioned, is such a small pond that a conflict of interest will invariably manifest itself for any given critic. In Denmark, where the community is tiny by comparison with the US, this problem is naturally compounded, and I’ve certainly had my share of problems in that particular context. And, in any case, critics of other areas of cultural production experience much the same thing, even if their particular field is a much larger one, such as contemporary fiction or rock music.
Right, so I haven’t updated this thing since Thursday. I’ve been busy here, back in Denmark. And now it’s business as usual as I head towards the dirt fields of Roskilde. Last year was the deluge, but this year is promising to be sunny all the way, so there’s that — also, I will as always be writing criticism for Rapspot.dk, so those of you who read Danish can follow my itinerary over there. Next week I’ll be back in England, on the grind, and activity on here will probably ramp up as a result. Got a lot of interesting material in the pipeline, so stay tuned…
Photo: Bo Pee.
“I see Benjamins and a billion other big head people/ I’m a natural born hustler, Marcy Projects motherfucker/ Turned professional journalist reportin, live from the gutter/ My girl, carry boxcutters, rubbers, shoot up with undercovers screamin’/ FUCK THE WORLD, why, cause, don’t nobody love us/ Shawn Carter, Sean Bell, what’s the difference? Do tell/ 50 shots or 50 mill’, ain’t no difference go to hell/ So, BRRRAK, lick a shot for, BRRRACK Obama, change gon’ come-ah/ I’mma buy the whole hood llamas on me/Roc nation army, million strong and the mantra’s gon’ be/It is whatever it’s gon’ be, on three/ Shawn, in the Hum V, y’all can call it cold warm/Declarin, I’m free, bumpin ‘Pac and the Outlawz/ I’m flyer than all outdoors, I ball out pours/ I buy, champagne companies, I’m past buyin out bars/ But I do that, I’m so past, G5’s and G4’s/ But I flew, back, back and forth like Aaliyah (rest in peace to ya)/ Takes a nation of millions to hold us back/ But when your boy reach a billion it’s a wrap (off of RAP?) YEAH!”
— Jay-Z freestyle over “A Milli”
The picks of the week from around the web.
The New Republic: Postcards from Nowhere, Jed Pearl. A trenchant modernist criticism of postmodernist artists Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Olafur Eliasson amongst others, as well as the exhibition spaces that host them. There’s a lot to disagree with here, but Pearl’s argument is both impassioned and intelligent and well worth a read. Thanks, Dirk.