The Rain in Spain

Sorry about the string of no updates lately. We’re in Madrid where it’s raining cats and dogs. Doesn’t matter too much though – the city’s always great, and at this time we’re treated to a big Tintoretto show at the Prado – the first retrospective since 1937. It’s unfortunately slightly underwhelming, especially since in the adjoining galleries, you can check out the cream of Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velazquez and Goya, while all Tintoretto’s best work is stuck to walls and alters in Venice. He is never uinteresting though, and it’s great to be given this kind of walk-through of his career in the wonderful central gallery of the Prado (more detailed review to follow).

Also, at the Thyssen there’s an astonishing portrait shows that starts out with a trio of masterpieces – selfportraits by Gauguin, van Gogh and Munch – and just doesn’t let up – wonderful work by almost all of the 20th Century’s greatest painters.

Other than that, the tapas are nice as always, and today we’re headed to the Escorial. Pictures and more to follow upon return – the machine we’re using here is only intermittently available and also an antique.

Re: A Certain Tendency in French Comics V

No, I’m not continuing my diatribe against all those talented, boring French cartoonists here. Just wanted to note that the inimitable Bart Beaty touches upon the issue in his review of Christophe Blain’s Gus over at Comics Reporter. Go, read.

Tangentially related: the press kit strip by Joann Sfar Thomas mentions in his Persepolis-at-Cannes post below reveals that the superstar cartoonists has been hired by the festival to do his comics reportage “Greffier”-style (no haven’t read it yet, but will do. Soon) daily and directly from the festival. And he’s been granted special access to go where no journalists go. Wow.

Palme d’Or to ‘Persepolis’?

Marjane Satrapi’s animated feature film Persepolis (based on her comic of the same title, as everyone should know) has been selected for the Official Competition at the 60th Festival de Cannes. Persepolis (co-directed by Vincent Paronnaud) will be facing hard competition though, since the Palme d’Or-line-up features new films by Wong Kar-Wai, Joel & Ethan Coen, Kim Ki Duk, Emir Kusturica, David Fincher, Alexander Sukorov and Quentin Tarantino. May the best film win!

The Festival’s official press release in English is right here. The French version features a strip by Joann Sfar (scroll to the bottom), BTW.

Hogarth’s Chicken Fat


Last week, I finally got the time to check the Hogarth show at the Tate. A very egalitarian and attractive retrospective of his career and oeuvre with equal attention paid to the bourgeois and the burlesque, the benevolent and the biting. Almost all of his most important work is assembled there, and it is a unique treat. One of the things I most enjoyed was observing and enjoying the richness of his visual ideas : the enormous amounts of ‘chicken fat,’ to use that maddest of Mad-artists Will Elder’s apt term, lining his pictures.

Re: Memento Mori

Lest we forget, tragedy is nigh universal, and today a bomb exploded in Sadriya, Baghdad, killing at least 140 people, while other bombs around the city brought the day’s total up to over 170. A nasty reminder that our thoughts tend to stray from there.

Hype: OCX 07

ocx_logo.gifThe weekend of May 4-5 will see inaugural edition of Oslo Comics Expo in, well, Oslo. In contrast to its older, distinguished cousin, the Raptus festival, which has been held yearly in Bergen for a good number of years now and this year unfortunately presents what may be its most anachronistic programme, OCX will focus on the new trends in Western comics for adults. Among the guests we find the Norwegians Jason, Lene Ask, Lars Fiske, Mads Erisken and Steffen Kverneland, who will be joined by Andreas Gefe and Kati Ritenbach from Switzerland and Leonardo Manco from Argentina. Looks promising!

I will be there, participating in the panel ‘Tegneserieakademiet,’ on our common understanding and contextualization of comics, on Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to it.

Open Season?

vos_papiers.jpgAs you may be aware, French cartoonist Placid was fined €500 on January 18 for having insulted the French police with his cover (pictured) to a self-help book, Vos Papiers! Que faire face à la police? – on the, in France, ubiquitous control of identity carried out by the police – published back in 2001. The writer, a magistrate in Versailles, Clément Schouler was fined €800 for having called the practice “facially selective identity control” (ie. suggesting that the practice is racially biased), which the court found defamatory, and the publisher Michel Sitbon was fined €1.000 for his part. While having garnered considerably less attention from the press than the recently ended Charlie Hebdo trial, the present case touches upon similar issues of free press and free speech. A large number of cartoonists, writers and journalists have voiced their support for the people behind Vos papiers! and a number of their efforts – cartoons, images and written pieces are now being collected in a benefit book, Tous Coupables! published by a conglomerate of smaller publishers including L’Association, Cornélius, Vertige Graphic, L’Ésprit frappeur, Les Requins marteaux, Thé-Roc, and Éditions nautilus.

Hype: Rytz & Ehlers

arme_vaeg.jpgIf you’re in Copenhagen on Monday, stop by the opening of the latest gallery show by Rytz & Ehlers, or, as they call their individual projects, Inkforest and Duudle. The opening is, at the same time, the grand opening of Gallery Doodletown.

Rytz was, by the way, featured in our grand anthology BLÆK last year and is one helluva talent. Ehlers also rocks, so don’t front!

The address is Valdemarsgade 36, opening times are Wednesday-Friday 12.00-5.00 PM, Saturday 12.00-3.00 PM. The exhibition is open from 13 April to 10 May. Here’s the flyer.