Press Release: Bonnier Comics Established in Denmark

Following Egmont’s aquisition of Bonnier’s book publishing division (covered by the Metabunker here), big decisions have been made – here’s a fresh statement from Egmont/Bonnier:

“In connection with the sale of Bonnier Books’ Danish publishing company Bonnier Forlagene to Egmont, the comics publication unit of the children’s publisher Carlsen will transfer to Semic International, owned by Bonnier. During their review of the sale, the competition authorities of the European Commission assessed that the group will achieve an over-dominant position on the Danish comics market as both Egmont Serieforlaget and Carlsen operate significant activities in this publishing sector. However, Carlsen’s current publications in the comics area will remain under the auspices of Bonnier. A Danish comics company, Bonnier Comics A/S, will be set up under the general management of Rickard Ekström and Måns Gahrton from the Swedish publishing house Semic International.

Quotes of the Day:

Poor wee artie, he had the misfortune of having the first volume of Maus come out at the same time as that godawful Dark Knight and now he’s got to be stuck to it like a siamese twin. I feel for the guy.
– Eddie Campbell

The book is stupid, and David Michaelis is an idiot.
– Monte Schulz, son of Charles M. Schulz

He’s just a guy who wants to get paid, and he cuts deals for himself that he doesn’t like down the line, and then he gets whiny and cries about it…
– Rob Liefeld on Alan Moore

Hey, Kids! Comics! (The Return of Daniel Clowes)

Clowes Mr. Wonderful

As our Dear Reader may have noticed, Mr. Daniel Clowes has finally made his long-awaited return to comics in The Sunday Magazine of New York Times. With five installments currently on display, it seems somewhat safe to say that Clowes is back as we knew him in 2004, when the last issue of Eightball was published (and yes, the story in there – The Death Ray – was a spectacular masterpiece). The new story’s called Mr. Wonderful, and it’s all here.

And P.S., while you’re in there, do check out the coverage of David Michaelis’ controversial new biography of Charles M. Schulz. It’s right here. It seems like a must-read.

And P.P.S., here’s Bill Watterson’s review of the Schulz-biography. Everyone who subscribes to the motto: “The sorrows of life, the joys of art” seems to like this book a lot.

Hype: Tove Jansson/Moomin Exhibition in Copenhagen

On Friday night, at the so-called ‘Kulturnat,’ the exhibition space Frederiks Bastion, on Christianhavns vold, will open the exhibition “What’s This?”, showing original sketches and drawings for one of Tove Jansson’s classic Moomin stories in strip form The Moomin Trolls and the End of the World (1946/47). If I were in Copenhagen, this would be an absolute must — do go, this is incredible work!

Detail from Jansson’s cover to the Moomin book, Comet in Moominland (1946), on which the strip was based.

BLÆK Sold Out!

blaek_cvr_t.jpgWe have just received notice that the big anthology of Danish comics and related visual art, BLÆK, edited by myself and T. Thorhauge, designed by Frederik Storm and with cover art by Jan Solheim, has sold out from the publisher. From its frenetic creation, including the criticisms of economical mismanagement and political censorship, as well as the concomitant tie-in with the infamous Muhammed cartoon crisis, it was clear that it was going to make waves, and its present, critically-acclaimed and award-winning presence in Danish comics culture speaks for itself. It is, needless to say, a book we are proud of, and continue to stand by 100%.

We hope everyone who read it will continue to check for the artists who contributed — it is, of course, more than anything their book. Thanks to everyone who read and had an opinion on BLÆK!

The Venice Biennial pt. 2 of 2: The International Exhibition and the Arsenale

This is the second and last installment of the Metabunker review of this year’s Venice Biennial. Read the first part, which deals with the national pavilions, here. Also, be sure to check out our extensive photo reportage from the show.

While the national pavilions provide the core of the Biennial, affirming the continued belief in its slightly outmoded but still somehow current modernist conception, the real gauge of a successfully curated show are the large, thematically oriented exhibitions in the corderie (ie. rope-making buildings) at the Arsenal and the already mentioned International exhibition in the Italian pavilion (Italy has not had a solo show for decades, but actually did this year, in a different Italian pavilion situated at the far end of the Arsenal).


The great Titian show in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which will move on to the Accademia in Venice next year, is close to being the best of both worlds. It is based on substantial new research, particularly of technical nature, and it unites a large number of the great masterpieces of the last 25 or so years of Titian’s career for the joy and edification of the visitor. It furthermore presents the entirety of the museum’s own substantial collection of earlier works by the master and his assistants, along with select borrowings that shed light on the development of Titian and his workshop’s art and craft.

Unlike the concurrent exhibition on late Titian in Belluno — which it must have been a rather thankless task to assemble in competition with Vienna — the focus is here very much on Titian’s creative genius, rather than his role as capobottega of an enterprising but entirely subservient workshop. While it does illuminate aspects of his workshop practice, it first and foremost invites the visitor to contemplate Titian’s great synthetic genius as a painter — his grand attempt at a negation through art of the dichotomy of sacred and profane.

Re: Christophe Blain, et. al. II, now with update!

Pepo has responded to my comments on his description of the visual qualities of Christophe Blain’s comics a couple of days ago. He emphasizes that, in comparing Blain with McCay and Herriman, he is not making a straight comparison of quality, but one of kinship. I got that the first time. He goes on to describe a very different comic, Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Dark Knight Strikes Back as another comic that succeeds as a work of art because it offers up a visual vision of strong, compelling originality, implying that that’s what Blain does too.

And that’s where I disagree. Yes, Blain’s work is visually pleasing to look at, it’s impressive. But it is far from as original and as compelling as McCay’s, Herriman’s, or even Miller and Varley’s. As I mentioned earlier, it looks like the work of at least a dozen other cartoonists on the French market (only better than most of them).

The Venice Biennial pt. 1 of 2: The Pavilions

Managed to catch the Venice Biennal on its last legs, when I was in the Serenissima last week. It proved to be an exhilarating surprise. Usually, it is a slog mitigated by perhaps a handful of interesting work and, if you are lucky, a standout or two. Circumnavigating the national pavilions especially tends to be tedious, with individual curators either playing it safe by banking on established names or simply shooting in the dark and serving up uninspiring up-and-comings. Figuring out who is the next hot thing has always been something of a crapshoot, and spotting real quality even harder, so the odds are obviously stacked against the good or interesting outweighing the less so.

Reluctant to draw too rash, generalist conclusions as to the general state of the visual arts now as opposed to then, I can therefore only attribute the relative high quality of the national exhibitions this year to fortuity. It is not like anything was fundamentally different from previous years, just that there were more quality showings in the pavilions. To me there were a couple of real standouts this year, as well as several more notable national exhibitions. I will try to touch upon the ones that made the biggest impressions here, while in the name of relative brevity entirely leaving out all the chaff.