Picks of the Week

“We tie ourselves in knots when we act as if democracy is good for the United States and Israel but not for the Arab world. For far too long, we’ve treated the Arab world as just an oil field.”

— Nicholas Kristof

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Good commentary on Egypt and the US from New York Times columnists: Nicholas Kristof on lessons to be taken away from the Egyptian revolution and Bob Herbert reflecting bleakly on American democracy.
  • The Edge Question 2011. An incredible line-up of distinguished scientists, artists, philosophers, etc. give their answers to the question “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” I’m only discovering this for myself at the moment — amazing!
  • Richard McGuire’s “Here”. One of the seminal comics short stories of the past thirty years available online. If you’ve never read this you’re in for a treat. Ground zero Chris Ware… (thanks Sean!)
  • Inkstuds’ Robin McConnell interviews Al Columbia. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cartoonist’s cartoonist’s latest Pim & Francie book and generally find him overrated, but this amazingly candid interview is a keeper. (For Alan Moore fans: includes the story of the lost fourth issue of Big Numbers!)
  • Comics of the Decade: Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan – The Smartest Kid on Earth

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    This is part of a Metabunker series celebrating a great decade in comics with Rackham by reprinting select reviews of the decades’ best comics from the Rackham archive, along with a number of new pieces.

    It has now been over a decade since Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan : The Smartest Kid on Earth was published in collected form, and almost two since he first drew the character in a number of short strips in the Chicago weekly New City. Through the nineties, as it was being republished for the first time in his ongoing serial the ACME Novelty Library, it was for many consistently the most anticipated serialized comic around; an indication that comics were experiencing an artistic renaissance and a harbinger of great things to come for the medium.

    Its release in book form in 2000 has now come to be seen as an emblematic event in what certain commentators, such as yours truly, have termed the international “new wave” of comics, which has since only gained in force and momentum. And Chris Ware is still working somewhere at is center, simultaneously expanding and refining his approach to comics, most recently with ACME #20, or “Lint”, which provides as good a touchstone as any to chart his development since Jimmy Corrigan. The following is a re-examination of Ware’s seminal book, made with the benefit of a decade plus of hindsight, with attention paid to how it has contributed to the evolution of the art form of comics and how we think about them.

    Danish Comics of the Year 2010

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    Once again, international gentleman Paul Gravett has asked a bunch of international critics and writers about comics to talk a little about the comics of the year from their respective countries. I participated along with representatives from Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Sweden, offering a selection of what I think are the best Danish comics of 2010. I’ve reproduced the text here, but check out the entirety of the list at Gravett’s site.

    More on the Association Strike

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    While my attempts to reach the involved parties hasn’t met with much success, a little more information on the Association strike has trickled onto the web, including a press release by the staff, stating in a little more detail their motivations and grievances. It was sent out on 14 January week ago and runs like this:

    Chers tous, auteurs, adhérents, libraires, éditeurs, journalistes, amis,

    Nous, salariés de L’Association, sommes en grève depuis le lundi 10 janvier 2011 suite à l’annonce de la suppression de 3 à 4 postes sur 7, à partir de février 2011, et à l’impossibilité d’établir un dialogue constructif sur le sujet avec les instances dirigeantes.

    Nos revendications restent celles émises au début de notre mouvement:

    Picks of the Week

    “The tragedy of the Euromess is that the creation of the euro was supposed to be the finest moment in a grand and noble undertaking: the generations-long effort to bring peace, democracy and shared prosperity to a once and frequently war-torn continent. But the architects of the euro, caught up in their project’s sweep and romance, chose to ignore the mundane difficulties a shared currency would predictably encounter — to ignore warnings, which were issued right from the beginning, that Europe lacked the institutions needed to make a common currency workable. Instead, they engaged in magical thinking, acting as if the nobility of their mission transcended such concerns.

    The result is a tragedy not only for Europe but also for the world, for which Europe is a crucial role model. The Europeans have shown us that peace and unity can be brought to a region with a history of violence, and in the process they have created perhaps the most decent societies in human history, combining democracy and human rights with a level of individual economic security that America comes nowhere close to matching. These achievements are now in the process of being tarnished, as the European dream turns into a nightmare for all too many people. How did that happen?”

    — Paul Krugman

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Paul Krugman: “Can Europe Be Saved? Great, provocative and lucid analysis of the recession in Europe and the problem of single currency. A must read.
  • Slavoj Žižek on WikiLeaks and the discrete charm of global hegemony. Need we say more? Go read.
  • Two from Hooded Utilitarian. James Romberger has recently been writing on the great cartoonists Alex Toth and his latest piece, a personal reminiscence of growing up reading his comics, is the best so far. Wonderful. Also, Sean Michael Robinson has just interviewed the great manga ambassador to the West, Frederick L. Schodt, who is always worth listening to.
  • Strike at l’Association

    It seems there’s an employee strike at the seminal French comics publisher l’Association. Emails sent to them are met with an auto-response with the following wording:

    “Nous, salariés de L’Association, décidons de nous mettre en grève et d’occuper les locaux à partir de ce lundi 10 janvier 2011 à 13h00, et ce pour une durée indéterminée, afin de protester contre l’annonce brutale de licenciements, à savoir 3 à 4 postes sur les 7 actuels.

    Nous contestons le cadre de ces licenciements, annoncés par un bureau absent dont le mandat n’a pas été renouvelé depuis de nombreuses années et par un directeur éditorial non salarié dont les responsabilités au sein de la structure restent floues. Nous demandons que soient exposées et justifiées les raisons économiques de ces licenciements, et que nous soit donnée la possibilité d’étudier d’autres solutions.

    Inquiets des décisions de gestion prises depuis de longs mois, de l’absence d’échange entre l’équipe des salariés et les décisionnaires, du contexte dans lequel les livres vont être édités et défendus, nous demandons la tenue dans les plus brefs délais d’une assemblée générale afin que soient soumis au vote de ses membres les rapports d’activité et financier de l’exercice 2010 et que soient exposées les prévisions pour 2011.”

    In short it announces a strike of indefinite duration, started by the employees this Monday because of an unexplained announcement that 3-4 out of the 7 full-time staff will be made redundant.