To mark the centenary of Georges Remi, alias Hergé, and to celebrate his life’s work, T. Thorhauge and I decided to represent one of the many spirited conversations we’ve had about it over the years in writing. The following is our informal back-and-forth appreciation of some of our favourite comics. I asked Thomas the opening question in an email, and away we went!

What do Ted Rall and Jay-Z have in common?

They were both monitored by the NYPD in the months leading up to the immaculate propaganda bonanza that was the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Files just released courtesy of the New York Civil Liberties Union, despite attempts to block them by city officials, list hundreds of organizations and individuals put under surveillance due to concerns about their possible actions relating to the convention (the New York Times has an accessible presentation of it here). Of special interest to this site, the list includes both a cartoonist – the infamous Ted Rall – and, as far as I can tell, several hip hop MCs and activists who had participated in Russel Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network: Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, LL Cool J (yes, even him!), and Alicia Keys, amongst others. Uh maybe Puffy was right, after all, when he proclaimed himself to be “Public Enemy #1” a few years back… NOT.

Nice one NYPD, I would feel much safer now, were I still in New York.

If nothing else this piece of news gives me an occasion to post this chillingly hilarious edit of the speeches held at the convention. Pretty much says it all:

It can also be seen i slightly better quality here. Check the Ted Rall document here, and the Hip Hip Summit Action one here (warning: PDF!).

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

gebbie_moore_t.jpgAlan Moore and Melinda Gebbie just got married!

You gotta love ’em!
Neil Gaiman has posted a bunch of photos from which this one is taken. Also, check out Gebbie’s neat invitation to the proceedings here. And while we’re at the topic of Moore, go read this great interview from Arthur Magazine with him about his thoughts on magic. Along with Eddie Campbell’s Egomania interview and Dave Sim’s “Conversation from Hell”, it’s one of the best Moore interviews since the big one in The Comics Journal ages ago.

A Ride on the Pain Coaster

el-p_sleep_t.jpgAs he himself promised, El-P’s new album, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, is less personal than its predecessor, the solo debut Fantastic Damage (2002). Where that album to a large extent was introspective, this one presents a more distanced perspective. I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead is a panorama to Fantastic Damage‘s kaleidoscope.

Although the nerve and the noise are the same, El-P has developed as a musician over the five years it has taken. Generally, the sound is less abrasive despite the foundation being the same noisy, megaton b-boy steez as always. We are still dealing with unadulterated dystopian New York hardcore, but El has developed the symphonic approach to production nascent on the last album. The grandly conceived soundscapes of cuts like “Stepfather Factory” and “Innocent Leader” are here given room to breathe. Several of the tracks are allowed to unfold and develop over longer run times and at times become almost narrative.

OCX 07 – My View

After a rather delayed return from Oslo, which included an unwilling nightly sojourn through London for alternate transportation to Cambridge (courtesy the combined – and perpetual – ineptitude of British Rail and the London Underground) and an even more unwilling stopover at a hostel, I am now sufficiently rested to take a proper look back at the inaugural Oslo Comics Expo, which I just attended. Overall, it must have been a success: it was well-attended and well-organized, there had been a good deal of media attention, and the atmosphere was very pleasant. All of which is made extra impressive by it being a first-time event. However, in some ways one could argue that the copacetic and unassuming attitude of the organizers was also the weakness of a festival that could have attained a higher profile with a little more ambition brought to the programming.