“We are not magic, We are real!” – an interview with Muñoz & Sampayo

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When Argentinian cartoonist José Muñoz received this year’s Grand Prix at the comics festival in Angoulême, he stated that he considered it as much a recognition of his friend, countryman and collaborator Carlos Sampayo, as of himself. It would indeed be hard to imagine one without the other. Though they have both worked independently of each other, in comics as well as other media, it is in the comics they have created together one finds the soul of their art, an art carried by a clear authorial voice and a stark but ultimately strongly humanist sensibility. The best of their work rates amongst the finest explorations of human emotion and behaviour in comics.

This interview was conducted by myself and my compadre T. Thorhauge back in the late summer of 2001 at the Berliner ComicFestival. They were invited as guests of the festival at a time when they had just started working together again, after a long hiatus due to Sampayo having been seriously ill for a number of years.

The Saved

ng_st_petermartyr.jpgI recently read two very moving books, both classics of World War II-literature. One was Italian chemist Primo Levi’s relentlessly frank first-person account of life in the camps, If This Is A Man (aka. Survival in Auschwitz, 1947), the other was the collected letters and diary entries of young Danish seaman and resistance fighter Kim Malthe-Bruun, Kim (1945). Read together, they chart different parts to survival and salvation and suggest why the two should not be confounded.

“I like Warhol better, so sue me”

Responding to the recent post about Lichtenstein, Metabunker-denizen Andreas Gregersen writes:

“Cambell is right (no?):

But yes, a lot of the anonymous stuff is probably more skilful.

Was RL a greater “recontextualist” (cf. “the essence of the exercise” noted in Campbell’s piece) than Johns, Rauschenberg and/or Warhol? And: When the critics talk about the craft of RL’s work, they almost always focus om his ability to twist a composition, but I think Barsalou’s swipe file more than suggests that there are (rather) too many instances where both line and composition are copied directly and not really appropriated. Granted, “Girl with Ball” is smart, but it seems to me increasingly like a lucky Picasso-punch…

And, yeah, I like Warhol better, so sue me”

Transformations in Pop

image_duplicator.jpgEddie Campbell is totally on point in a couple of posts (here and here) concerning Roy Lichtenstein’s use of comics imagery in his paintings, and does his best to rub out the old bugbear, fueled by the inferiority complex comics fans often habour on the behalf of their preferred medium, that Lichtenstein was a plagiarist. Though Campbell has pretty much sorted it out, I have a few remarks I would like to add.

The accusation of plagiarism is, of course, absurd. Anyone familiar with sample-based music will be well aware of that. Lichtenstein, however, is less a sampler and more of a transformer. Importantly, his appropriations are from one medium to another. While his superb sense of design is widely acknowledged, a lot of people neglect the painterly qualities of his work. His images are not photostats, or even silk screens, of comics panels, but bona fide paintings with a wholly different set of aesthetic qualities. He transforms the off-register Ben-Day of mass printing into a sui generis form, achieving something that is emphatically not cartooning, but painting. This of course means the concomitant transformation of often rather mundane sequential art to the icons of 20th-Century popular culture some of these images quickly became.

Patologier

samler.jpgJeg synes lige jeg ville benytte chancen til at plugge det eneste læseværdige indslag på Comic Zo… øhm, Seriejournalen i øjeblikket (særligt nu, hvor Simon P. poster sjældnere og sjældnere): Bertis Blog for Supersamlere! At manden selv er gal, er vi en del der længe har været bevidste om, men det vilde er, at hans venner og kolleger er endnu mere vanvittige! Berti udforsker medaljens bagside, tegneserieelskernes beskidte bug: de ægte samlere!

Bertis kække afleveringer passer perfekt til denne serie, hvor noget af tegneserieverdens særeste fauna udforskes. Alle der har lidt af en samler i sig, vil kunne empatisere med disse svære tilfælde af samlermani og lade sig imponere af deres iver og engagement.

Skål til samlerne! Og til Berti!

Sidste slag om Muhammed-tegningerne?


I går indledtes retssagen mellem det satiriske ugeblad Charlie Hebdo og tre muslimske organisationer. Det drejer sig naturligvis om førstnævntes publicering af Jyllands-postens muhammed-tegninger, og der er tale om et civilt søgsmål. Sagen føres ved en domstol i Paris, og der er linet op til det helt store rivegilde: tonsvis af medier er repræsenteret, de muslimske organisationer har hyret selveste Jacques Chiracs advokat, og søreme om ikke Jyllands-postens egen Flemming Rose vidnede på førstedagen. Sagens kerne er det velkendte skisma: påberåbelsen af ytringsfriheden på den ene side, og dæmonisering af muslimer på den anden. Charlie Hebdo har fuld støtte fra Journalister uden grænser, stort set alle franske politikere og femtrædende intellektuelle. Metabunkeren ville gerne have været med, men på grund af aviskrigen er der blevet skåret på bunkerens rejsekonto. Til gengæld har Jyllands-Posten (hvem ellers?) en fyldig og underholdende dækning, læs mere her.

“I couldn’t depend on gangsters!”

eternals_10-cvr.jpgYesterday, it was 13 years ago that Jack Kirby died. Always stirring to be reminded of an oeuvre as unique as his. I just read his swan song, The Eternals, in its entirety and though it is widely considered to be a flawed effort, it is simply astonishing work. The first half a dozen issues or so is Kirby running at full bore. Crafted at a time when it is my impression that Kirby : primarily through fan response to his work : had become more aware of the depth of the well he had been tapping for decades, it is perhaps his most contrived attempt at mythological discourse. This is not a problem however; besides his always awe-inspiring graphic inventiveness, it is the sincerity with which he serves up concepts such as the Fourth Host, the Uni-Mind and Arishem the judge of Mankind, that : in the end : makes Kirby’s art soar.

Dokumentation: Den Verbale Ni-Millimeter fra Nøvørk

rehr_portraet.jpgBalladen der ikke vil dø fortsætter, ansporet af hhv. T. Thorhauges spritnye kritik af Strip! og tegneserietegner Henrik Rehrs reaktion på den. Jeg vil ikke gå i detaljer om Strip!-kritikken, men Rehr bringer som forsvar mod den en gammel bussemand på banen:

“Pudsigt som han [Thorhauge] også har slemt travlt med et prøve at tryne mig i det han skriver, min kritik af Blæks pengemæssige fordeling fra sidste år og mine bemærkning om “Sjuske-Dorte” i forbindelse med Blæks indholdsfortegnelse, spøger åbenbart stadig i hans baghoved. Når man stikker en verbal lussing, er det altid rart at se at den går rent ind, og jeg må tilstå en vis skadefryd ved at se vredestårerne i hans øjenkroge et helt år efter, men samtidig føler jeg også et anstrøg af dårlig samvittighed.”

Er Egoet landet, Ivar?

egoland_2006_12_03.gifI efteråret stod der et mægtigt slag i den danske tegneserieverden. Slaget var både af principiel og ganske konkret karakter: Ivar Gjørup, der i over 20 år har tegnet striben Egoland, var nonchalant blevet tilbudt en alvorlig forringelse af sin placering i den avis der har været stribens hjem i næsten ligeså lang tid, Politiken. I forbindelse med den på mange måder ellers vellykkede omstrukturering af avisen, skulle han gå ned i format og se sig anbragt på bagsiden sammen med venstrehåndsbagatellen WulffMorgenthaler. Det kunne selvfølgelig ikke have sin rigtighed, hverken principielt eller i den konkrete situation. Den holdningsløse indstilling til tegneserien det var symptom på, var en gammel bussemand, der i det konkrete tilfælde forværredes af, at vi her havde at gøre med en af de største klassikere indenfor mediet herhjemme.

Det hele blev godt igen: Gjørups emfatiske protest, hjulpet af en lang række støtte- og klagebreve, fik efter nogen tids tovtrækkeri chefredaktionen på andre tanker. De bøjede sig, og Egoland fik den plads på ledersiderne og det format den rettelig fortjente. Efter en sådan kraftmanifestation fra kunstnerens side, kan det være på sin plads at kaste et blik på hvad han siden har brugt sin genvundne position i avisen på. Svaret er desværre: ik’ møj’.