Kirby at 100


Today, Jack Kirby, one of the great artists of the twentieth century and a visionary of the comics form, would have turned 100. For those unfamiliar with this extraordinary person and artist, or merely wanting to brush up, here’s a good primer and here is the touching and informative reminiscence by Kirby’s friend and erstwhile employee Mark Evanier, and here are a couple of really good pieces on his work reposted today by two great comics critics, Ken Parille and Andrei Molotiu.

I myself will be contributing a piece to the rolling celebration taking place all week at Danish comics site Nummer9, masterminded by my friend and occasional collaborator Henry Sørensen, whose feature-length 2009 essay on Kirby leads a variety of homages and critical takes. He posted the first part of it today, soon to be followed by the second, as well as the first of a series of tributes by Danish cartoonists. Meanwhile, Danish afficionados Morten Søndergård and Kim Schou have posted a two-hour podcast on Kirby. All of this, regrettably is only available in Danish, but if you do read the language stay tuned for more, including an article by yours truly which will feature the image above (from New Gods #5, 1971) and will subsequently be posted somewhere (probably here) in English, I hope.

Oh, there have of course also been a few posts on Kirby on this site. Among them are my thoughts on Kirby’s extraordinary transitional work on the Challengers of the Unknown in the late 1950s, my take on his last Fantastic Four story with Stan Lee, and my review of Evanier’s 2008 monograph, which has just been re-released to mark the centenary. Also, there is the provocative 2007 article by aforementioned Søndergård on his possible involvement not just in the creation of Spider-Man, but the execution of some of the first comics pages featuring the character. I don’t really believe it, but it is worth your attention, as is the debate it sparked, which features Evanier (again!) as well as Blake Bell, expert Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, and others.

UPDATE: here’s my essay in Danish at Nummer9 and in English at The Comics Journal.

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Rafael i Weekendavisen


I dagens udgave af Weekendavisen anmelder jeg den store — og fantastiske! — udstilling af Rafael-tegninger på The Ashmolean Museum i Oxford (til 3 september) og gør mig nogle tanker om hvad Rafaels tegninger fortæller os om hans særlige geni — et, der har gjort ham til det nok bedste bud på den vestlige traditions kvintessentielle kunstner.

Læs anmeldelsen her, eller i avisen hvor den er bedre illustreret. Og se udstillingen hvis I kan!

Sortkridtstegningen ovenfor er fra ca. 1519–20 og tilhører The Ashmolean Museum. Jeg diskuterer den i anmeldelsen.

Trump i Doonesbury i Information


I denne weekends Moderne Tider-tillæg i Information står min anmeldelse af den særlige Trump-opsamling af G.B. Trudeaus Doonesbury at læse. Jeg gør mig i den forbindelse nogle tanker om det at satirisere Trump — noget, der tydeligvis ikke er så nemt som man skulle tro. Hermed en smagsprøve:

Det bliver taget for givet, at Trump er en gave til satirikerne. At han serverer deres levebrød på et sølvfad. Jeg er ikke så sikker. Ja, særligt de amerikanske aftenshowværter har kronede dage : med Stephen Colbert og Trevor Noah i spidsen : men de koncentrerer sig i højere grad om den politiske og mediemæssige kontekst der muliggør galskaben, end om manden selv. Dem der gør har det svært: at Alec Baldwin er blevet lagt for had af præsidenten kalder nok på kollegernes misundelse, men hans Saturday Night Live-portræt af præsidenten er hverken særligt præcist eller særligt sjovt. Han udkonkurreres i dén grad af den ægte vare.

Læs mere her

Flygtningekrisen i danske tegneserier

Fra Lars Hornemans bidrag til Uledsaget


Information har endelig trykt en anmeldelse jeg skrev for flere måneder siden, om hvorledes flygtningekrisen og immigrationsspørgsmål mere generelt er begyndt at vise sig, rent tematisk, i danske tegneserier, her konkret antologien Uledsaget, der rummer bidrag af Lars Horneman, Tom Kristensen, Adam O., Halfdan Pisket, Karoline Stjernfelt, baseret på fem uledsagede flygtningedrenges historier; Morten Dürr og Lars Hornemans ungdomsserie Zenobia, der fortæller historien om en druknende flygtningepige; og ikke mindst Johan F. Krarups verité-fiktion Styrelsen, om en blød mands forfald til korruption som sagsbehandler i Udlæningenstyrelsen. Anmeldelsen kan læses her (advarsel: paywall den første måneds tid) og her er et uddrag (om Styrelsen):

Den bløde mand, Laursen, inkarnerer en dansk kultur, hvor tilliden til medmennesket er høj og korruption en sjældenhed. Hans manglende evne til at sige fra udstiller systemets sårbarhed overfor pragmatisk udnyttelse, mens hans patetisk morsomt skildrede moralske kvababbelser antyder styrken i det anstændighedens imperativ, han trods alt lever under. Krarups tegninger er en anelse skematiske og bliver over så mange sider monotone, men at han forstår nuancens kunst ses i bogens sidste billede af Laursen.

Hype: New Reviews

Krazy Kat Sunday page 6 October, 1940


Over at The Comics Journal I’ve just had my rather long, unfocused… er, discursive review of Michael Tisserand’s major new biography Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White published. Herriman’s Krazy Kat is widely, and for pretty good reasons, regarded as one of the greatest comics of all time, and really should also be considered on of the great, distinct works of art of the twentieth century, in my opinion. I have some thoughts about the strip, as well as assorted other comics embedded in the review. Anyway, check it out.

Oh, and in the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine you can read my review of Claudia Bertling Biaggini’s book on Sebastiano del Piombo, Felix Pictor.

Michelangelo & Sebastiano


In a couple of weeks’ time, on 15 March, the exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano opens at the National Gallery (trailer above). As its curator, I’ve worked on it for the past two and a half years and of course look forward to people seeing it.

Briefly, it aims to be a focused show, examining the extraordinary friendship and collaboration between Michelangelo (1475-1564) and the Venetian painter and expat to Rome Sebastiano Luciani, known to posterity as Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547). Michelangelo is not known for his ability or willingness to collaborate, in part due to his own efforts in his later years to play down any such activity, but also because he genuinely worked best alone, or with assistants who were essentially subservient to him.

Remarkably, the partnership with Sebastiano, which started in late 1511 and lasted on-off, and mostly in long-distance form — Michelangelo in Florence and Sebastiano in Rome — between 1516 and 1534, was essentially a collaboration among equals. Yes, it was asymmetrical, as one would expect of any collaboration involving one of the greatest artists who ever lived, but each of the two men brought their unique ideas and sensibilities to their joint projects. Essentially, Michelangelo would provide Sebastiano with drawings which he would use in his paintings, but in many different ways and often quite independently of any oversight from Michelangelo. Sebastiano was hugely influenced by Michelangelo and spent most of his career assimilating his example, but he did so in his own, highly original fashion.

At the time of their falling-out in 1536, apparently over the choice of medium (oil or fresco) that Michelangelo would use for the Sistine Last Judgment — the great project that had brought him back to Rome, Sebastiano had developed a monumental, uniquely still and intensely spiritual style of painting that would prove immensely influential of painters of the following generations, not just in Rome but across Europe, from Caravaggio to Poussin and even Zurbarán.


Anyway, all this and much more — including the dramatic historical context, one of upheaval, war, schism and theological and artistic rejuvenation — will be explored in the exhibition and in its catalogue, which is shipping from its distributor as of yesterday. Edited by me, it features scholarship by, among others, Costanza Barbieri, Paul Joannides, Piers Baker-Bates, Silvia Danesi Squarzina and Timothy Verdon. Read more (and purchase) here.