The Child and the Giant – On Alex Toth and David Mazzucchelli

Amongst the handful of significant cartoonists that worked for Warren Publishing during the 70s, Alex Toth stands out. He created some of his best comics for the publisher, despite often working from mediocre scripts. As a rule, the best of them are the ones he did in collaboration with Archie Goodwin, but there are other notable gems in the oeuvre. One of them is the story “Daddy and The Pie” from Eerie #64 (1975), drawn on the basis of a well-written if somewhat banal script by Bill DuBay.

The 8-page comic tells the story of a farmer’s family that one night recovers a gigantic alien, who has crash-landed his spaceship in one of their fields, and helps his recovery. A friendship develops between them and their Earth-struck guest, whom they name ‘Pie.’ The neighbours, however, are not happy about the stranger’s presence, which creates rising tension in the community and culminates with Pie sacrificing himself to save the life of his host, the farmer. The narrator of the story is the farmer’s son, a little boy who finds inspiration in the examples of his father and the stranger.

Tour de France: Rasmussen’s Reign

As the first mountain stage in Tour de France turned out slightly disappointing, this one was, well, as promised, an ab-so-lu-te blast. Great Dane Michael Rasmussen (of Dutch Team Rabobank) tore the peloton apart, won the stage riding halfway the route virtually without help (as his only ally, T-Mobile captain Michael Rogers unfortunately hit a roadside barrier and pulled out of the race shortly after). Good Lord, what a stunning ride, a phenomenal achievement! Rasmussen not only won the stage, but the maillot jaune and the polka-dot mountain jersey as well.

Tour de France: The Thin Air is Coming

Enter the Alps! It has been a crazy week for the riders in the world’s greatest cycling race. Although the maillot jaune has been in Fabian Cancellara’s possession since the Prolouge, the Tour has been surprisingly eventful so far, which is both good and bad. Good, obviously, due to the entertainment value of the race – bad, because some of these events included the brutal crashes of Team Astana-chiefs Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden, which just might put an end to the podium dreams for these two riders, who otherwise happened to be among the top favourites for the GC (general classification). Sure, it’s somehow exciting in a strange, sadistic manner to watch a rider giving it all that he’s got, with deep contusions on both knees, a bleeding elbow and abrasions on hip and buttocks. But then again: if that sight means the exit of Vinokourov, well… not good at all.

Tour de France: Fausto Coppi and ‘La Bomba’ – Updated

Jorgen Leth Tour
If you haven’t got any real plans for the summer, here’s your deal: Le Tour is the thing! Even though the first two stages were more exciting than expected, Tour de France is of course at its best when it reaches the Alps (14th to the 17th of July, Sunday being a resting day) and the Pyrenees (23th to 25th of July). So, should you be reluctant to spending endless hours watching the Tour on TV, do check for the mountain stages where legends are born…

I hope to follow the Tour, and hopefully to blog about it now and then. In my first Metabunker post on cycling, I discussed Bjarne Riis’ doping confession. At the moment, Bjarne Riis’ Team CSC holds the maillot jaune, but Riis himself is not with his team, due to the pressure from the media caused by his doping confession, as well as former CSC-rider Jörg Jaksche’s allegations (see here and here). But it’s also worth noting that Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme has condemned Bjarne Riis harshly, and made it clear that he would prefer Riis to stay away, because the presence of the former Tour de France winner would soil the grandeur of the race. In fact, Monsieur Prudhomme wants to reclaim Bjarne Riis’ maillot jaune, and erase him as winner of the 1996 Tour de France.

Death in Venice

Back from Roskilde, feeling elatedly exhausted as always. It was the wettest festival on record, which was quite an experience. I’ve never seen anything like Thursday. People were wading in mud halfway up their hips, and the 20 hours of relentless precipitation was prodigious. It was pandemonium. Fortunately music makes such problems moot (for much more, see the Rapspot coverage), but my name is still Mud.

Raphael sells to private collector for £18 Million

christies_raphael_sale.jpgThe Raphael portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici that I recently examined at Christie’s and wrote about here, has now been sold for £18 million to an anonymous ‘private European collector.’ Pity it did not end up in a public collection, but the combination of disputed authorship, bad state and high price probably dissuaded any institutions that might have been interested.

David Packwood has more on the picture’s attribution here, and on the sale here. Tom Flynn was present and took the photo used above.

On to Roskilde!

It’s been a while ‘cos I’ve been busy. Still am, but I still wanted to check in here with some notes on this week’s musical happenings in Copenhagen and environs. I’m back in Denmark for a little while here, and started out my stay with a session featuring Beenie Man (pictured above) who, amongst other things, delivered a special, partly improvised but nevertheless felt, tribute to Natasja, narrating how he saw her over the last few days of her life, including her last show, last Saturday.

Natasja – In Memoriam

natasja_sunburst.jpgThis is so sad. I can’t really bring myself to write about anything else at the moment. It is, however, some solace that so many people have been showing their love these last days. And there are also some news about what happens now.

People interested in helping Natasja’s mother and family give her a nice funeral are encouraged to visit her MySpace page where further information can be found.

For those who read Danish, my obituary can be seen in a slightly different version over at RapSpot. Everyone is also encouraged to visit the RapSpot board where the community is paying respect and showing love. Also, read MC and hip hop journalist PTA’s reminiscences here, and be sure to read the best obituary written so far, by selector and journalist Ras Money, here. Danish daily Information has a good one too. Also, The Jamaica Observer has the news, with testimony from Natasja’s friend and fellow dancehall DJ Lady G.

Natasja 1974-2007

little_t.jpgToday brought incredibly sad news. Danish dancehall queen Natasja Saad has died in a car crash in Jamaica.

A fixture in Danish hip hop, reggae and dancehall since the late eighties, when she performed on stage for the first time, she had both an astonishing talent and true star quality. I first saw her on stage in 1989, opening for Ice-T and the Rhyme Syndicate at the now long gone, classic venue Saga in Copenhagen. Perky and energetic, she already had her tight ragga flow and distinctive rascally delivery down, totally outshining the older MC, J-Sun, whom she was sharing the stage with. In the following years she was ubiquitous on the Copenhagen hip hop scene, performing with Karen Mukupa (and, at the beginning also MC Emcee) as the group No Name Requested as well as delivering numerous guest shots at other people’s shows and recordings. Her tenacity, vigour and sheer talent on stage was impressive and though I didn’t always dig her music, she remains one of the artists from that period I respect the most.

Carlsen stays Carlsen

On Seriejournalen’s message board, Carlsen editor Carsten Søndergaard notes that the negotiations at Aschehoug/Egmont after their acquisition of Bonnier Forlagene have resulted in the publishing house Carlsen, previously owned by Bonnier, remains its own publisher, while Egmont Serieforlaget continues to function as is. Effectively that means the new media group has two distinct comics publishing houses. Probably the best solution all round.

We hope to have more on all this shortly.