Picks of the Week

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The picks of the week from around the web.

Lots this week:

  • New York Times: “The Trolls Among Us.” Great article on professional internet trolls. Whither Stewart Brand?
  • KRS-One & DJ Revolution: “The DJ”. Legendary MC Kris Parker is sounding better than he has in a long time on this sequel to his classic track “The MC”, breaking down the characteristics of a real DJ.
  • Watchmen Roundtable. One of the great early interviews with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons on their masterpiece Watchmen, which originally ran in Fantasy Advertiser #100 (1988). Essential reading for fans of the comic. Also, by all means, do check out this clip of Moore talking about his favourite superhero. UPDATE: Also, check out this fine interview with Moore on the craft of writing comics, originally published in 2002.
  • Love & Rockets! Live audio from the spotlight panels on master cartoonists Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez on this year’s San Diego Comicon.
  • Jeet Heer: “Solzhenitsyn as a Soviet Writer.” A concise critical assessment of the literary achievement of one of the most influential authors of the 20th Century on the occasion of his passing last week.
  • Ludacris “Politics 2008”. In case you missed it, Luda’s rather silly, but funny Obama rap that had the conservative pundits up in arms and got the presumptive nominee’s campaign scrambling to dissociate last week.
  • Vanity Fair: “Believe me, it’s torture.” Christopher Hitchens gets waterboarded.
  • Jack Kamen RIP

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    Classic EC Comics artist Jack Kamen has just passed away at the age of 88. Although always understandably regarded as the weakest of the EC Artists, he was the most subversive in some ways. His wholesome illustrative style, and perennially healthy looking, mannequin-like characters doing nasty things to each other, in themselves act out a scathing satire of the values that would eventually land EC and the comics industry as such in hot water from concerned parents and censorious authorities.

    Plus, those stories are really funny, following as they do the formulaic accelerated three-step logic of shortform pulp plots: “Oh Maureen, I love you”, “I love you too, Brad, but Dick will never give me the divorce”, “Let’s kill him!”. Also, his art was a perfect, subtly disturbing fit for the didactic but still rather interesting strips in the post-Comics Code title Psychoanalysis, not so much for the landscapes of the subconscious, surely influenced by such imagery as Salvador Dalì’s designs for Hitchock’s similarly hammy therapy thriller Spellbound (1945), but rather for their frank straightness. Whiteman on the couch.

    Tom Spurgeon’s obit.

    From Stage to Panels

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    Andy Konky Kru has posted the entirety of Joseph Franz von Goez’ 1783 comic Leonardo und Blandine over on his indispensible site for pre-modern and early modern comics, Bugpowder. And It’s a treat: while by no means great art, its tight sequencing, relying on histrionic moment-to-moment renderings of the characters’ love and grief, is fascinatingly exacting. Telling the tragic, Decameron-inspired story of two star-crossed lovers over 160 panels, it is highly melodramatic and not a little grim.

    Gul Journalistik

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    Det er ikke kun i USA at anden om R. F. Outcaults stribe om Den gule dreng, fonografen og papegøjen (25. oktober, 1896) som Den Første Tegneserie lever i bedste velgående. Også her i Dammen viser det gule mærke sig at være svært at ryste af sig. Senest har møgungen fra Hogan’s Alley stukket kæften frem i hele to relativt højt profilerede tegneseriehistoriske indsatser i de danske aviser. Tegneseriens nestor i dagspressen, Søren Vinterberg, har over de seneste uger entusiastisk delt sine yndlingstegneserier med Politikens læsere, og den mangeårige og vidende tegneserieskribent Inger Holst formidler i denne uges Weekendavis aspekter af den fascinerende historie om tegneseriehetzen i 50ernes Danmark.

    Jeg vil ikke kaste mig ud i en længere kritik af deres tekster, der er velskrevne og værd at læse for alle interesserede, om end i hvert fald Vinterbergs indslag bør læses med forbehold for faktuelle fejl. Nej, det jeg blot ville pointere er, at de hhv. beskriver The Yellow Kid som “den første fortsatte massemedie-tegneserie med teksten indarbejdet som grafisk element i billedet” og “den allerførste seriefigur”, og ikke nok med det — de afslører begge, at de ved bedre ved at henvise til tegneserier af tidligere årgange, som f. eks. schweiziske Rodolphe Töpffers tegneseriealbums fra 1830erne og 40erne (Vinterberg her, Holst her), tegneserier der stort set besidder alle de karakteristika mediet siden er blevet defineret ved.

    Hammershøi’s House of Secrets

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    Been away from the screen for a couple of days, so no Picks this week. There’s stuff coming soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d just take the opportunity to recommend the major retrospective of Danish painter Wilhelm (Hammershøi’s 1864-1916) work at the Royal Academy in London (till September 7, after that Tokyo), the first such showing of his work in the UK. It’s a great show, even for someone quite familiar with the artist’s work such as myself; it contains a lot of paintings from private and international collections, providing a great, little-seen supplement to the masterpieces on loan from the major Danish collections.

    Hype: True Colours @ CPH Shortfilm

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    This week, Wednesday and Thursday will see the festival Copenhagen Shortfilm 08 in Ørstedsparken, Copenhagen. Haven’t been to the festival before and I only know one of the films being shown, but that one film is definitely worth seeing. True Colours paints a both touching and intense portrait of a man with too much emotion. It is directed by Barney Elliott, edited by — conflict of interest! — my man Klaus Heinecke, and features a commanding performance by Neil Maskell. It’s on Wednesday 30 at 22.45. Go see it.