Images from Comics and Beats 4

This Sunday saw the fourth Comics and Beats event in Copenhagen. Organised by the Danish Comics Council, it is a live drawing event where cartoonists improvise to music provided by a DJ and prompts given by the audience and the MC. This time, it took place as part of a charity event in Copenhagen’s Fælledpark, with the resulting drawings subsequently being auctioned off to benefit Zimbabwean farmers.

This time, the artists were Allan Haverholm, Ina Korneliussen, and Erik Petri, the DJ was M. Dejean and the MC was Cav Bøgelund. As usual, Frederik Høyer-Christensen was there and caught the event on his camera — check his Flickr set here.

Image: Cav Bøgelund and M. Dejean vs. Korneliussen, Haverholm & Petri.

On the Child Pornography Debate in Denmark

The highly publicized child pornography conviction last month of a Swedish translator, for possessing manga which allegedly depicted sexualised minors or minors engaging in sexual acts, is but the latest manifestation of a debate concerning what constitutes child pornography that has been going for a number of years. The chairman of the Swedish Comics Society, Fredrik Strömberg, has written succinctly about the case here and here.

The debate has also been raging in Denmark for the better part of a year, with Karen Hækkerup — a member of parliament for the main opposition party, the Social Democrats — leading the charge against the kind of animated child pornography currently legally accessible on the internet (from a Danish website amongst other sources). Hækkerup and the Social Demoncrats want to change the law opening the people manufacturing this kind of material for prosecution, and she has recently found support from the powerful, right-wing Danish Peoples’ Party. The issue exploded in the media this week because of the opening, Friday, of an exhibition about drawn and animated child pornography at the Odense museum Brandts klædefabrik.

Hækkerup’s proposals have been met with criticism from a number of quarters, including not just free speech groups, but also the child protection organization Red Barnet. The research cited by Hækkerup, purportedly showing that looking at pornography may ultimately lead to actual transgressions, has been questioned and the proposal described as a slippery slope, potentially leading to cases like the ones in Sweden, or worse. Mie Harder, a member of the government’s junior coalition partner, the Conservative Party, has been very vocal in her opposition to the proposal and has started a Facebook page to fight it.

The government is currently awaiting a promised statement by the Sexological Clinic at the National Hospital in Copehagen on the possible links between pornography and criminal sexual transgression. The minister of Justice, Lars Barfoed, as well as the judicial spokesman of the Danish Peoples’ Party, whose votes will be important to the passing of any new legislation, have both noted that it will be important for their further consideration of the case.

The Danish Comics Council, on the board of which I sit has also been involved in the debate. Chairman, and occasional Metabunker contributor, Thomas Thorhauge — who is highly critical of the censorious tendency evinced by the proposal — has appeared in a radio debate with Social Democrat Maja Panduro and the Council is presently preparing an official statement, which will appear in English in this space.

Hype: Mutant Pop

For those in the Copenhagen-Malmö region, I recommend checking out the exhibition Mutant Pop, now open at the Loyal Gallery in Saltimporten, Malmö. It is curated by Joe Grillo (it’s his work above) and Laura Grant of Dearraindrop and includes work by a host of talented artists, amongst them Mat Brinkman, Brian Chippendale, Ron Regé Jr., Yuichi Yokoyama and Gary freakin Panter! It runs till September 20th.


Picks of the Week

“Think, for example, of Northrop Frye. Frye’s is now a name that you never hear mentioned but which was then everywhere. CS Lewis, who is now famous for fairy stories, was then famous for being a scholar. Tolkien too was famous for being a scholar, not for elves and so on. There is no prestige associated any longer with being a good critic. There are people writing now who seem to me likely to be as good as those critics I’ve been mentioning but they won’t be as famous nor as influential. There’s some very good scholarship in the subject still going on. There’s also an immense amount of rubbish.”

— Frank Kermode

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Crumb! This week saw the continuation, but also the possible cessation (?), or roundtable on Crumb’s Genesis over at HU. Last at bat was Peter Sattler with a great essay on the ‘literalism’ of Crumb’s approach. In addition to that, Tim Hodler linked to film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum’s fine piece on Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb documentary, as well as a recent piece he has written for its reissue in the Criterion series. All worth reading for people interested in Crumb!
  • Re: the “Ground Zero Mosque” shitstorm, Justin Elliott examines how an innocuous and initially uncontroversial news story developed into the ridiculous media circus we are now witnessing. And former FBI agent Ali Soufan expresses his exasperation.
  • Frank Kermode RIP. The passing of the great critic found me reading this short 2006 interview, in which he talks about the evolution of criticism and its reception over the course of his career.
  • Overset: Anikonisme

    Lige en kort notits: jeg har i længere tid gerne ville anbefale Anikonisme, en af de tegneserier Simon Petersen har lavet til det i øjeblikket tørlagte Serieland. Det er måske Petersens mest ambitiøse tegneserie til dato og en af de eneste danske tegneserier, der er gået ind i den sprængaktuelle billed- og integrationsdebat.

    Petersen forsøger sig i den 69-sider lange serie som socialrealist i sin skildring af den unge, vordende tegneserietegner Khalid og hans liv i og omkring Gjellerup-parken. Man kunne hævde, at han har taget munden for fuld i forsøget på en sandfærdig skildring af et miljø, han i bedste fald kender fra anden hånd, men han går som altid til sagen med krum hals og formår at skabe en fortælling, der virker forholdsvis realistisk og, vigtigere, vedkommende på i hvert fald denne læser. Petersen har altid haft godt greb om hverdagens dialog, især som den udfoldes blandt yngre mennesker, og formår på ganske lidt plads at levendegøre de centrale figurer.

    Som sædvanligt har han et problem med at afslutte sin historie. Han benytter til slut et greb, han vist selv synes giver det hele en raffineret åbenhed, men som nu mest virker som et cop-out. Det forekommer tydeligt, at han ikke formåede at få samling på sine livlige fortælletråde og derfor i stedet besluttede sig for helt at droppe forsøget.

    Oh well, det er bedre end at gribe til postuleret patos, og serien er indtil da overvejende et glimrende or kærkomment ambitiøst forsøg på en socialt engageret dansk tegneserie. Det var efter min mening en fejl, at vi ikke nominerede den i kategorien ‘Bedste danske webtegneserie’ til Læs den!

    DWYCK: Word Made Inky Flesh

    Over at Hooded Utilitarian, my monthly column this time is an extended piece on the art historical antecedents of cartooning, with special focus on Robert Crumb’s adaptation of Genesis, and with reference to Bruegel and Rembrandt, plus a bonus discussion on the different meaning-making properties of text and image.

    I hope you’ll check it out, and perhaps join the discussion, which is part of what has become an extended, frequently interesting roundtable on Crumb’s book.

    Image: Rembrandt, Abraham Conversing with the Angel, c. 1636-37, pen and brown ink, 108 x 114 mm., formerly London, private collection.

    B.o.B vs. Drake II

    Further to my article of last week on the two new rapping and singing Wunderkinder, B.o.B and Drake, I just wanted to add a few comments about the reception of their debut albums and what it might say about hip hop criticism today.

    My colleague over at Rapspot, Toobs, dug both albums (warning: Danish), preferring B.o.B’s, but he pointed out something he saw as a shortcoming of his album in comparison with Drake’s: that it lacks lyrics of more personal nature. This would appear in direct contradiction of my criticism that Drake sounds like a record company product, promising to give us the “real” him, but instead offering polished formulae, wouldn’t it? Well, here’s why:

    On the Ongoing Cartoon Shellshock

    manden-bag-stregen_t.jpgI was just reminded today of how depressingly treacherous it has become to navigate the Mohammed cartoon affair and its religious-cultural discontents. The day before yesterday it was reported worldwide that the upcoming memoirs of ‘Bomb in Turban’ cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, Manden bag stregen (‘The Man Behind the Line’), would be published with the cartoon for which he has become world-(in)famous on the cover. Pretty daring and rather provocative thing to do, I figured, but perfectly plausible, I felt. We published the news both at our Danish comics site and at the Danish Comics Council webpage, as media all over the internet had done.

    Then today, I received an email from the book’s publisher, John Lykkegaard, informing me that the news as reported everywhere was in error and that it was not the intention to publish said cartoon on the cover. He also mentioned that the announcement that the book has 35 illustrations in Somalian media had been interpreted as it carrying 35 images of Mohammed. For fuck’s sake.

    Lykkegaard included the actual cover design for the book, which features the cartoon Westergaard drew for his newspaper Jyllands-Posten (publisher of the original Mohammed cartoons) to mark his retirement earlier this year. It refers to the debacle, casting the cartoonist as Don Quijote accompanied by an ass carrying a box labeled ‘freedom of speech’, on top of which rests a bomb with a lit fuse. Above them, the crescent of Islam glows. The caption reads: “The Don Quijote of idealism says goodbye, with thanks — the real Sancho Panza will be sticking around for the moment”

    So, a reflection of the issue, and fairly acerbic (understandably!), not to mention a little self-aggrandising, but not exactly something to reignite the fuse of idiocy, I hope. Real sad, though — and symptomatic — that we nevertheless reported it that way.

    Here’s the publisher’s official announcement.

    Picks of the Week

    “I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason. Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?”

    — Christopher Hitchens

    The picks of the week from around the web. (A little late, sorry.)

  • Christopher Hitchens on his cancer. The contrarian author and political commentator has been diagnosed with cancer and writes about it with candour. Our best wishes — get well Hitch!
  • Washington Post: Top Secret America. I’ve only started digging into this major investigative project, on the proliferation of secret service and intelligence agencies in the US, but from what I’ve read, it seems great.
  • Google’s villainous turn. Another step towards the crippling of net neutrality perpetrated by the “Don’t Be Evil” people. Ryan Singel has a fine write-up at Wired, while Robert X. Cringley offered a counter-intuitive caution at the New York Times.