Cartoon Crisis: Murder Plot Against Danish Cartoonist

This morning, three people with Muslim background were arrested by Danish Police, suspected of conspiring to kill Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, one of the 12 cartoonists that portrayed the prophet Mohammed in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

Among the suspects are both Danish as well as non-Danish citizens. The group has been under surveillance by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service for months.

Jyllands-Posten‘s editor-in-chief, Carsten Juste, has made following statement:

Deeply worried, the management at Jyllands-Posten has for several months followed the discrete efforts by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service to protect Kurt Westergaard from concrete murder threats. The arrests Tuesday morning have hopefully thwarted the murder plans. We sympathize with Kurt Westergaard and his family who are forced to live under unacceptable pressure. It is appalling that a man who to the best of his ability goes about his work, and carries it out in accordance with Danish law, the Danish media ethics and Danish media tradition is rewarded by demonization and threatened on his life. We are grateful to the Danish authorities for protecting our colleague competently and professionally.”

The cartoonist himself, Kurt Westergaard (age 73), adds:

Of course I fear for my life when the Danish Security and Intelligence Service informs me of concrete plans by specific people to kill me. But I’ve turned fear into anger and resentment. It am angry that a perfectly normal, everyday activity, which I have done by the thousand, is being abused to set off such madness. I’ve attended to my work and I still do. For how long I am to live under police protection I cannot possibly know, but I think the consequences of the insane response to my cartoon will last for the rest of my life. It is sad indeed, but it has become a fact of my life.

Illustration: The most famous and emblematic Mohammed-cartoon was drawn by Kurt Westergaard. Mr. Westergaard wanted to point out how the Prophet is exploited to legitimize terrorism, but obviously many have seen the cartoon as a depiction of the Prophet himself as a terrorist.

New York Times: 3 Arrested in Plot to Kill Cartoonist

Steve Gerber 1947-2008

Mainstream comics auteur Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown, passed away Sunday night. Tom Spurgeon has as fine an obituary as you’re going to find up, providing an appreciation of key works and a career overview. Mark Evanier delivers the more personal perspective and friends and fans congregate at Gerber’s site. Also, this essay on his genre-challenging run on Marvel’s The Defenders is worth reading.

Rest in Peace.

Image from Omega the Unknown by Gerber, Mary Skrenes and Jim Mooney.

A Cornucopia of Cliché

The Arrival by Shaun Tan is the most overrated comic of the past year. Published more or less simultaneously in several languages, it seems to have received unanimously positive, bordering on rave, criticism since it came out — from the mainstream press as well as the comics cognoscenti. To cap things off, it was awarded the Book of the Year-award at Angoulême. Yet, it is little more than a big fat sap sandwich.

Its shortcomings are nothing new. Rather, they seem almost endemic to the modernist tradition of the socially engaged, silent picture-narrative that it naturally fits into. The mostly woodcut stories of artists like Lynd Ward, Otto Nückel and Eric Drooker that with a few outstanding exceptions — Frans Masereel, Palle Nielsen — equate the stark contrast of their graphic medium with their ethos and thrive on the bathetic.


Malou Aamund
Ifølge Nyhedsavisen sang Dansk Folkepartis ledelse i eftermiddags højt af glæde over nyheden om Malou Aamunds skift fra Ny Alliance til Venstre. Dansk Folkeparti er naturligvis dagens vinderparti, nu er VKO-flertallet genoprettet, og (resterne af) Ny Alliance sat helt uden for indflydelse. Metabunkeren tager et kig på nogle af taberne i det ubønhørlige brutale game, der hedder dansk politik – og lad os starte med den lette ende:

Mikael Bertelsen
Ja, Mikael Bertelsen, den charmerende ankermand i DR2s fremragende kulturtalkshow Den 11. time. Hvad i alverden har han med den politiske situation i Danmark at gøre? Not much, men han er tilfældigvis gift med dagens hovedperson, Malou Aamund : der blev valgt ind i Folketinget på paroler a la “Tanken om at sidde fire år til med en VKO-regering, der på så mange områder er ude af trit med, hvad befolkningen gerne vil, og hvad samfundet har brug for, er ikke til at holde ud“. Selvsamme kvinde, der nu har foræret nøglen til den parlamentariske magt i Danmark til Pia Kjærsgaard. Jo, men det er da vel ikke Bertelsens ansvar? Muligvis ikke, men det bliver svært at se Bertelsens rare ansigt i tv fremover uden at tænke: “Okay, det er ham, der sad med hænderne i skødet, da hans kone sørgede for at Danmark atter blev et blokpolitisk land“. Strengt? Jamen, sådan er det.

Picks of the Week

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Frank Rich: “The Billary Road to Republican Victory”. The New York Times‘ great op-ed columnist looks ahead at what a Hillary Clinton ticket for the presidency might mean for the presidential elections. An interesting corrective to the otherwise commonplace view that Hillary is the stronger candidate for the Democratic party.
  • Rolling Stone: “The Death of High Fidelity”. Great article about the challenges posed to high-fidelity sound recording by the new digital formats.
  • That insane Tom Cruise indoctrination video. If you haven’t yet seen this thing, hop to it! Tom Cruise in all his glory. A great character study.
  • A Healthy Serving of Comics History

    eccoci.jpgComics writer and historian Alfredo Castelli has a late Christmas present for us all — the entirety (704 pages!) of his annotated bibliography on the early American newspaper strip, Eccoci ancora qui (“Here We Are Again”) is now available online in PDF format! Meticulously researched and chock-full of rarely-seen images, this is a must for everyone interested in the period, even if you don’t read Italian.