How Hard Can it Be? III

Time for another of these snarky posts on the exasperating shortcomings of our fellow man (see previous installments). The trend for tracing photographs has never been more widespread in American comics, and while I don’t agree with Frank Santoro’s recent, refreshing but rather hardline dismissal of the technique, it has been responsible for some pretty damn dull-looking and stiff comics.

Tony Harris is a case in point: I like his work OK, and what little I’ve read of his series with writer Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina, has been enjoyable, but his characters continue to appear as if they were action figures posed in all their PVC glory, while his background drawings frequently look a tad too much like solarized scans of photographs. Slightly exasperating when you consider that his chops are actually decent enough. Give the lightbox a rest, will ya?

Picks of the Week

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Jeet Heer on Batman’s gayness. I time for the European release of Dark Knight this week, let me link to Jeet’s fine survey of the gay subtext in Batman comics. An interesting and fun read.
  • David Bordwell. A detailed examination of the alternate cuts of several of Wong-Kar Wai’s films. Fascinating.
  • Bill Kartalopoulos: Gary Panter. More Gary Panter hype here at the Bunker! Live interview with the artist on Karatalopoulos’ new blog (go, bookmark).
  • Berlingske. (for our Danish readers): An examination of vinyl collection in this day when digital formats have become dominant. As all us vinyl enthusiasts have long predicted, the format has retained its appeal, as opposed to the CD, which has proven much more transient.
  • Hype: Pushwagner i Morgenbladet

    Til vore norske læsere vil jeg lige benytte lejligheden til at hype både mig selv og — især — den bog, jeg i har anmeldt i denne uges udgave af Morgenbladet: Pushwagners Soft City (kræver desværre abonnement at læse). Serien, der er fra starten af 70erne udgør på det nærmeste et blåtryk for den nu så feterede, men i mange år marginaliserede kunstner. Det er noget af en tour-de-force af en tegneserie, klart forud for sin tid. Og den både indre og ydre nødvendighed man fornemmer løfter den over de hippie-klicheer om det mekaniserede vestlige samfund den lægger for dagen. Et flot og konsekvent værk, der har informeret Pushwagners senere produktion, ikke mindst serien En dag i Familien Manns liv, der ret beset er en mere elaboreret udgave af samme vision.

    For de — nok primært ikke-norske — læsere, der ikke ved hvem Pushwagner er, eller bare ønsker at vide mere, check især denne artikel og kig også forbi denne gamle Pushwagner-side.

    Tour de France: Beautiful Carlito!

    Today’s stage sure delivered, even though one had to wait patiently for the action: “Too much sense, and too little madness“, as Jørgen Leth remarked when the peloton reached the top of Col de Galibier. But when the leading pack reached the foot of Alpe d’Huez, Carlos Sastre attacked — Denis Menchov reacted quickly, but then Sastre attacked again, and rode all the way to the top of his career. Again, his team played their role in full, impressive force, and again, young Andy Schleck proved to be the strongest and most exciting rider of the day. Watch that kid.

    But today surely belongs to the most sympathetic rider in Tour de France, Carlos Sastre. Last year, we also cheered for beautiful Carlito, but this time he actually won. Cadel Evans will most likely win Tour de France, in the unadmirable, defensive style of Miguel Indurain, but Carlos Sastre is undeniably the spiritual winner of this year’s Tour. As Jørgen Leth would put it:

    Tour de France: “Kill ‘Em All”

    Everyone’s got major expectations for today’s stage in the majestic Tour de France. So far the race has been pretty darn good, but at this very moment, the riders are on their way over three (yes three!) mountain tops — Col du Galibier (2645m), Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m) and finally the legendary Alpe d’Huez (2105m).

    This year, the race has been very open, and thus very, very entertaining. Right now, five riders in the GC (General Classification) are battling for final victory, but since a time trial remains (Saturday), the climbers are forced to attack favorites Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov today, because the latter are “complete riders”, accordingly expected to take several minutes from the climbers in the time trial. Danish Team CSC/Saxo Bank’s Fränk Schleck (of Luxembourg) has got the maillot jaune, but is no time trial specialist (and neither is his captain Carlos Sastre). Led by former Tour winner Bjarne Riis, they are probably planning something big today — something, that no matter how clever and strategic, can be reduced to team mate Jens Voight’s laconic remark from yesterday: “Kill ‘ em all“.

    As a special service to our Danish readers, pay attention to, where legendary legend Jørgen Leth (see portrait above) comments on the entire stage LIVE on the web. It’s right now!

    Suffering, glory, tragedy, victory. This one’s got it all. If you don’t want to see it all, just go for the final hour on Alpe d’Huez. Drama guarenteed.

    Hype: White Noise Drawn Together

    If you’re in Copenhagen, you should definitely consider going to this show at V1 Gallery which opens on Friday and runs until August 2. For those of you interested in cartooning, I should point out that it includes work from such current luminaries as the freshly inventive Marc Bell, the compellingly suggestive Jenni Rope, Rocky artist Martin Kellerman and Denmark’s freshest cartoonist, Jakob Martin Strid. Go.

    “Threat or Menace? Stinky or Poopy?”

    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.

    Creig Flessel RIP

    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.

    Picks of the Week


    The picks of the week from around the web, a wee bit late this time around.

  • The New Yorker Obama cover. 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. Read Maureen Dowd’s sharp commentary here, check out what cartoonist extraordinaire Steve Bell thinks here and read what a bunch of other cartoonists and comics alumni think over at the Comics Reporter.
  • A Milli. I’ve been talking a good deal about Bangladesh’s “A Milli” beat for Lil Wayne in here, but please indulge me. At the link learn just who it is that says “A MilliA MilliA MilliA MilliA MilliA MilliA MilliA MilliA Milli…” — be prepared for a surprise and dig how crazily that sample is flipped.
  • RozzTox meets Kipple. Read this short, funny 1980 interview with Philip K. Dick, conducted by the inimitable Gary Panter and his wife Nicole. Thanks to the good folks at ComicsComics for the heads up.