Abu Laban Dies

fralilletillaban_xtract.gifOpportunistic Denmark-based imam Ahmed Abu Laban’s passing earlier today, almost exactly a year after the flames he helped fan triggered the insanity that became the so-called Muhammed crisis, seems strangely serendipitous. It reminds us what a difference being at the wrong place at the wrong time can make. Though his track record of consorting with unsavoury Islamic extremists such as Sheikh Omar abd El-Rahman, associated with the first WTC bombing in 1993, does not exactly gather him any sympathy around these parts, he of course cannot be held responsible for the sad manifestation of humanity, on the part of pretty much everyone involved, that was the Muhammed crisis (and the Danish courts decided as much a few weeks ago).

Montauzier 2007 : A Look Back pt. II

montauzier_signs.jpgAs a manifestation of comics as an art form, this year’s festival was the best in a long time. It was the happy result of the synergy of a market in which a number of quality comics unprecedented in the past 25 years have become available, the reform of the awards to match this fact, which resulted in a group of quality winners that seems timely and fresh, and a president willing to make it happen. However, having attended the festival this year, it is not difficult to spot the potential problems the proliferation of so-called auteur comics : of which the awards this year were a consolidation : might bring the market and, especially, the art form in years ahead.

It has all been seen before; something starts selling, is consequently turned into product and hawked excessively. One cannot help but feel that the staggeringly high production of what, for want of a better word, could be called ‘graphic novels’ : a commercial term for a commercial product : these years is simply too much for the market to support. Something’s got to give.

Debat? II

Har netop fået en email fra Jan Frederiksen, der var medlem af Rackhams hedengangne forum:

“Nu skriver i jo selv at i vil have kommentarer pr mail på Metabunkeren, så here goes.

Først tillykke med det nye initiativ : det har længe været lidt vanskeligt (ahem) at finde det man søgte på rackham, så skiftet er tiltrængt, og det ser fedt ud.

Men jeg er bekymret for, om Rackham.dks væsentligste funktion nu går tabt: nemlig den kollektive overvågning af markedet for publikationer af interesse for jeres læsere. Running commentary på tegneserien i al almindelighed er skam fedt nok, men alt andet lige har det været for at finde inspiration og kvalificeret kritik, at jeg har frekventeret Rackham, og det har jeg især fundet i diskussionerne i forummet. I modsætning til andre fora, var det overskueligt, og fokus var på nogle interessante ting. En anmeldelse bliver noget mere spændende at læse, når man kan følge diskussionen af den med det samme.

Jeg er lidt bange for, at uden nogen at lege med, kommer i til at miste den dynamik og spændvidde som gjoirde forummet på Rackham spændende. Jeg forstår godt at i ikke gider vedligeholde et forum, og det er heller ikke det i for min skyld skal prioritere. Men hvad med at åbne for kommentarer i bloggen?”

Montauzier 2007 – A Look Back pt. I

urine.jpgIt was the best and worst of festivals at Angoulême this year. On the one hand, it was logistically chaotic because the exhibitor’s space had been moved to the suburb of Montauzier, a half-hour walk away from the city centre, with no restaurants, no cash machine, no trashcans, and no soul. Most of the debit for this bizarre attempt to have it both ways can be laid squarely at the doorsteps of City Hall. The same people who are obliterating one of the town’s two central squares with a butt-ugly shopping mall.

On the other hand, the festival was a triumph for comics as an art form, credit for which can pretty much totally be laid at the feet of this year’s president, Lewis Trondheim. He reformed the awards and contributed to giving them to a selection of high-quality comics, he decided to give us a gorgeous Jim Woodring-exhibition instead of the traditional retrospective normally accorded to the president (we would also have liked to see that…), he was a constant, animating presence at the festival, day and night, and it was on his watch that José Muñoz was finally awarded the Grand Prix.

Didier Lefêvre passes away

le_photographe_2.jpgI have just learned that photographer Didier Lefêvre has passed away. What a shock. He was just at Angoulême, where the comic he made in collaboration with Emmanuel Guibert and Frédéric LeMercier, Le Photographe, was singled out as one of the essential works of the year. He had apparently been suffering from heart trouble for a while and died earlier today from a heart attack in his Morangis home.

Debat?

sneglen_rackham.jpgNå, jeg kan se at vores nye format har vakt opmærksomhed ovre i kaffeklubben (tak for de pæne ord. Vi knuselsker skam også jer).

Hovedanken er, at vi skulle have afskaffet debatten fordi vi har lukket forumet, men det er faktisk ikke tilfældet. Vi er bare trætte af at køre et forum og har derfor valgt at omstrukturere. Hvis nogen vil kommentere vores indslag, kan de – ligesom det er tilfældet på et af tidens bedste nyheds- og debatsites for tegneserier, Tom Spurgeons Comics Reporter – bare sende en email, så skal vi nok bringe den og endda svare på den, hvis vi skønner den er interessant for læserne (det er faktisk allerede sket).

Velkommen hjem fra Ærø!

Muñoz awarded the Grand Prix; High-quality prize winners all around

alack_sinner.jpgIt is about time. The Grand Prix winner of the Angoulême festival is the Argentine master José Muñoz (born 1942 in Buenos Aires). As the artist of a series of classic books written by his compatriot Carlos Sampayo : notably the noir character-driven series Alack Sinner, the masterful short story cycle set around “Joe’s Bar”, and the touching memoir Sudor Sudaca : Muñoz was one of the most important innovators of European comics in the 80s.

Points of debate

Today, a group of comics industry luminaries got together on panel at Angoulême’s comics centre, CNBDI, to discuss Thierry Groensteen’s new book, La Bande dessinée – Un Objet culturel non-identifié which I reviewed here yesterday. Groensteen himself was there, of course, and was joined by L’Association co-founder Jean-Christophe Menu (who just published the final, massive issue of the critical journal on comics L’Eprouvette), journalist Bernard Joubert, and comics author, scholar and editor Benoît Peeters, as well as mc Jean-Pierre Mercier.