As the stray reader might have noticed, the blog has been dormant for a while here, feeling the effects of pressure elsewhere. I can’t let the passing of Adam Yauch, aka. MCA of the Beastie Boys pass in complete silence, however.
I refer you to the New York Times obituary for the lowdown on his remarkable career, and New York Magazine‘s oral history for a record of the auspicious beginnings of the Beastie Boys. Here, I’ll merely add that they were always the exception to the rule: three Jewish kids staking an entirely credible claim in hip hop that has never been challenged, communicating with a wide, predominantly white audience at a time when the genre had not yet become the commercial juggernaut we came to see through the nineties, and doing it without losing any cred with the hardcore audience. Part of their innovation, and surely instrumental to their success, is that they took the humor and irony of old school rap and gave it their own twist, maintaining and developing it over the years as the rest of hip hop largely forgot it.
The week in review
Vacation and work have kept me away for a while, a will probably continue to do so for a little while yet. While in Boston, I checked back on one of the city’s premier cultural institutions.
The new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is emblematic of museum branding today, all the more so because of the particular intractability of its foundational stipulations. In a cultural climate where having a great collection simply isn’t enough, institutional visibility has become closely tied to event culture. for a museum that can’t even rehang its collection, this is of course a problem, so what do you do? Raise $180 million and hire go-to starchitect Renzo Piano to facilitate all the things museums seem convinced they have to do to stay afloat these days: an new wing housing a concert hall, a gift shop, a restaurant, a children’s art room, an exhibition space for artists-in-residence, a greenery. All sustainable, geothermal and daylight-harvesting, of course.
You do what you gotta do to survive, I suppose, but the absurdity of this trend for museums to go extra-curricular is particularly clear at the Gardner, whose intermittently great collection is forever trapped in a mediocre hang by the vanity of its founder, who insisted that everything be presented exactly as she left it at her death. This results in many important works being hung at low visibility and in often idiosyncratic and unenlightening juxtaposition, with the preciously empty frames of masterworks stolen in 1990 remaining on the walls as if to consecrate this “vision.” A new wing could have worked wonders for the presentation of the museum’s masterpieces, if only.
Still, Boston has a new, reportedly great concert hall and I’m sure Piano’s elegant building will attract customers. It has the potential to become a strong cultural center, if it does not blow too many leaks and if the museum’s direction finds ways of breaking its somewhat stale reputation. A good thing, even if the overall tendency is troubling.
A bunch of recent comics links:
For the past three weeks, the Danish comics site has been remembering comics legend Jean Giraud/Moebius’ passing with articles, essays, reminiscences from a number of Danish creators, and — most interesting to a non-Danish reading audience: drawn homages. Go here for a panoply of drawings on “The Theme” by Denmark’s finest.
Above is Jan Solheim, below Christian Højgaard reinterprets the last page of The Hermetic Garage.
Hello and welcome to the Kolor Klimax press pack! Thanks for clicking in and for your interest in the book!
Below you will find links to hi-res images from the book, ready for publication, as well as other resources that might be helpful. Please let us know if we can help you with anything else. And enjoy the book!
By Steffen Rayburn Maarup
As mentioned in this space once or twice, Kolor Klimax — Nordic Comics Now, edited by this site’s owner Matthias Wivel, is now available in bookstores across North America, and thus the rest of the world. To mark the official release, I decided to ask him a few questions on the book, the project and the future.
Why a Nordic comics anthology? Why the US? And why Fantagraphics?
The idea came from the Finnish Comics Society. They’ve been running an international initiative called Nordicomics — which includes exhibitions and workshops — for a number of years now, and figured that publishing an anthology series in English would help their mission to promote Nordic comics internationally. The idea is that this is the first in a series of books with rotating editors, under the general helmsmanship of Kalle Hakkola of FCS, who is responsible for Nordicomics. The second book is already being planned and will be totally different from Kolor Klimax in concept as well as content. As I understand it, the idea is that every book will be a stand-alone work.
As for Fantagraphics, I basically bit the idea from you. As I’m sure it did for your Danish anthology From Wonderland with Love, it just seemed the obvious choice — besides having been one of the best American comics publishers for decades, they’re consistently the most interested in supporting grass roots projects such as this one, as long as the quality is there. And co-publisher Kim Thompson is half Danish and knows about and is interested in Nordic comics already.
Kolor Klimax — Nordic Comics Now, the big fat anthology of contemporary Nordic comics that I’ve edited for the Finnish comics initiative Nordicomics is now available for order from its publisher Fantagraphics Books, as well as on bookshelves all over America and worldwide (theoretically, at least).
The week in review
The passing of Jean Giraud is the passing of one of the great cartoonists and visual artists of his generation. It had become easy to take the enormously productive artist for granted, even to bore of him, what with him performing well below his own best a lot of the time in the last couple of decades, but it should not be forgotten that this was somebody who generously gave of his vision of the world, making it his through his drawing and storytelling, and ever-so-subtly affecting our common visual imaginary. His was a quiet ubiquity of a kind that only few artists could ever hope to reach. He shall be missed.
The snap above was taken at the Angoulême train station on the Sunday of the festival in 2006, reading the already seminal Kramers Ergot 4. F-R-E-S-H.
Here are some Giraud/Moebius links:
Earlier today I posted an appreciation of the late Moebius’ last great work, Le Chasseur déprime, over at Hooded Utilitarian. Reading that book in the light of his illness and death suddenly seemed to make a lot of sense. It is among his most profound, questioning works — a fitting artistic testament from somebody who changed our way of seeing. Go check it out.