Rune T. Kidde RIP


Monday morning, one of Denmark’s great all-ages storytellers and underground comics pioneer Rune T. Kidde passed away. At 56, it was a wee bit early to go, but with more than a hundred books to his name, many of them of high quality and some bona fide classics, his legacy won’t pass so easily.

Kidde was one of the pioneers of the new wave that hit Danish comics in the late seventies and early eighties. His comics work was expressive, irreverent and hilarious. He was kind of a Danish Reiser, but also — through his pioneering fanzine publication and editorship — a bit of a Professeur Choron for us. Although he was surrounded by several amazing talents, Kidde stands as more of a unifying personality than most of his colleagues because of his broader tastes, his work as an editor both of fanzines and at mainstream publisher Interpresse, and not the least his musical and literary activities, which only flowered after he had to retire as a cartoonist after losing his eyesight to diabetes in 1990.

Come to think of it, he was — more than anything else — an heir to the great Danish humorist Storm P. Not as consistently witty or funny, but possessed of the same yen for the absurd and the same deep understanding of Danish popular culture and similarly multi-talented. He was highly prolific and a constant, original presence as a musician, spoken word artist, stage writer, audio book reader, and author. Always somewhere just outside the limelight, but unmistakeably there,. A kind of benign Rasputin of alternative and kids’ “pop” culture. He will be missed.

Website blog Lambiek profile short story in English readings obituary (in Danish)

Photo: Linda Johansen.

On Comics History and the Canon


Just thought I’d collect links to a number of writings on comics I’ve done over the years on comics history and aesthetics, as well as some of the great or otherwise significant works that have shaped it, here and elsewhere. Hopefully it will be interesting or useful to anybody interested in the subject, not the least students that I’ve bored with it in the seminar room. Anyway, here’s an overview:

The Week

Here in the United States we are experts in the knowledge that editorial cartooning is a dying art. In other areas of the world, however, it is an art that people die for.

— Dr. Robert Russell

The week in review

The execution, earlier this year, of cartoonist Akram Raslan is another reminder of the untenable situation in Syria, of the kind we who are especially attuned to cartooning notice. As if we needed it. It is great that the deal to eliminate the country’s chemical weapons so far seems to be going ahead (though, what about the chemical weapons in Egypt and Iran?), and good to see that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this week. But I fail to see how the Assad regime can be regarded as anything but illegitimate by now. I realize the complexity of the situation in the region, how delicate affecting regime change would be, and the power vacuum any removal of the current despot in charge would cause, but how can one seriously contemplate having dealings with these mass murderers in the future? How will the region ever be more stable if they remain in charge? After a while, fear of change just becomes cynicism.

Links:

  • I really shouldn’t be giving it any attention, but the new “Leonardo” find this week is symptomatic of a rising trend toward sensationalist PR stunts in the art world, where often dubious pieces are trotted out as genuine works by one of the great masters. Another example is the recent, silly attempt to upgrade a Velasquez copy at Kingston Lacy. The press clearly laps it up, but in the long run it has to be a problem for anybody taking seriously the study and facilitation of knowledge of art, as well as to the market. And it clearly makes one wary even of more serious proposals, such as that of the new, possible Titian I wrote about the other day.
  • Speaking of new finds, the sensationalist rollout of the fantastic Van Gogh discovery by the Van Gogh Museum last month is scrutinised and found wanting by Gary Schwartz.
  • And speaking of Nobel Prizes, the one for literature of course went to Alice Munro, whom I suppose is deserving and all, but when is the committee finally going to give it to Bob Dylan? Bill Wyman made the by now long stated case once again before the prize was announced.
  • Pusha T’s new album My Name is My Name, seems poised as contender for album of the year if the singles are anything to go by. The Kendrick Lamar-featured “Nosestalgia” is hot, and “Pain”, released this week is Fyah! Also, check David Drake’s pre-release analysis here.
  • If you read Danish, Louise B. Olsen’s smart and elegant essay on Krazy Kat is a nice way to celebrate the centenary of that greatest of comic strips.
  • Oh, and this article on how the city of London has become an international tax haven for real estate speculators is just a depressing peek into the workings of global capitalism, not the least to somebody like yours truly who will soon be moving to that city.
  • Newly Arisen


    In the latest issue of the Burlington Magazine Artur Rosenauer has published a previously unseen painting of the Risen Christ as an early Titian of around 1511. The painting, measuring 144 x 116,5 cm. was in the Bülow Collection in the nineteenth century until 1929 when it went to Uruguay. It is now in a private collection in Europe. A spectacular find, especially if it is indeed by Titian. It is rare that genuine pictures by such well-described great masters, especially non-portraits, surface.

    Venetian Disegno


    Totally forgot to post this here in good time. It’s been a little crazy around these parts lately. Anyway, I’m organising this colloquium in Cambridge tomorrow. If you happen to be around, and are interested in the topic (slim chances, I know!), then by all means show up!

    Live from the Ping Awards


    You may remember me writing about the Ping Awards in this space. But briefly: the Ping Awards are awards given annually to comics in Denmark at an annual gala show. There was an older award of the same name, a reference to one of the great Danish cartoonist Storm P.’s (1882-1949) most famous characters, but the present incarnation was founded in 2012 by the comics website Nummer9 in collaboration with the Danish Comics Council, the international comics festival Copenhagen Comics, and the comics magazine Strip!

    Works are nominated in six categories by comics critics from Nummer9 and Strip! and the winners are selected by a jury comprising representatives from each of the founding bodies, as well as a number of independent critics, writers, artists and comics professionals. You can read much more on the Ping website, albeit only in Danish. (Sorry).

    Anyway, this year’s Ping Awards were given out at a show at Lille Vega held in conjunction with Copenhagen Comics on 1 June in Lille Vega Copenhagen. It featured appearances from such international luminaries as Jaime Hernandez and Jill Thompson, as well as hilarious acceptance letters from awards winners Chris Ware and David Mazzucchelli. A sampling of the event has now been made available by the Ping team in the video above. Enjoy, and get in touch if you would like to know more about the Ping Awards.

    The Week

    “When history looks back on this moment, will it view those who opposed intervening as champions of peace? Or, when the textbooks count the dead children, and the international norms broken with impunity, will our descendants puzzle that we took pride in retreating into passivity during this slaughter?”

    Nicholas Kristof

    The week in review

    The absurd theater on whether a coalition of Western countries led by the US will intervene in the Syrian civil war or not, the contorted logic behind the whole chemical weapons rationale, and the sudden, provocative fit of Russian diplomacy have obviously dominated the week’s news. It’s been a fascinating study in the vagaries of international politics around a hot potato issue. But it’s also been depressing. There is no question that the prospect of engaging in another war, no matter how limited said intervention is claimed to be, is daunting and demanding of the utmost caution on the part of decision makers. But we’re talking a genocide here, like the one that’s been happening in Darfur or the one in Rwanda in the nineties — both of which we left to run their course. The argument for select attacks or even better, imposing a no-fly zone, in Syria seems to me a basic, human one.

    I find particularly depressing the arguments that we should let the notoriously lame duck UN Security Council or US Congress decide. Or that we can solve the conflict with humanitarian aid or non-violent diplomacy alone. It’s been tried for two years now and hasn’t worked. And in the meantime a hundred thousand people have been killed and millions have had to flee their homes.

    I really hope the current decision to pursue a handover by the Assad regime of all chemical weapons bears fruit, but also that it is followed up by aggressive diplomacy to resolve the situation and bring peace to the region. If necessary by the use of force. Witty as Vladimir Putin’s op-ed piece in the New York Times was, fun as it was to see him expose the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, the reality of the war in Syria is so horrible that his high ground-arguments for civilised conflict solution ring hollow if they don’t bring an end to the killings soon.