Picks of the Week

“Like the attacks by Al Qaeda, the disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings : yet the administration had ignored them. Instead of cracking down on MMS, as he had vowed to do even before taking office, Obama left in place many of the top officials who oversaw the agency’s culture of corruption. He permitted it to rubber-stamp dangerous drilling operations by BP : a firm with the worst safety record of any oil company : with virtually no environmental safeguards, using industry-friendly regulations drafted during the Bush years. He calibrated his response to the Gulf spill based on flawed and misleading estimates from BP : and then deployed his top aides to lowball the flow rate at a laughable 5,000 barrels a day, long after the best science made clear this catastrophe would eclipse the Exxon Valdez.”

— Tim Dickinson

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Rolling Stone: “The Spill, The Scandal and the President” a devastating investigation by Tim Dickinson of the Mexican Gulf Oil Spill and the Obama administration’s handling of it. Must read.
  • The Comics Journal: “The Mirror of Male-Love Love”. This extended piece by Dirk Deppey from the week before last is ostensibly about boys’ love manga, but is really more of a confessional essay, and as such it is a gripping, beautiful read. Highly recommended.
  • Gary Shider RIP

    Gary Shider of Plainfield, NJ and long-time funkateer of Parliament-Funkadelic fame, has passed away. He was the one in the diaper, rocking the guitar. Plus he was one of the architects of the P-Funk sound, overshadowed in the earlier years by fellow guitarist Eddie “Maggot Brain” Hazel but was just as important a constituent of the space-heavy, soulful guitar sound of Funkadelic. He co-wrote many of the classics with George Clinton, such as “Baby I Owe You Something Good”, “Nappy Dugout” and “One Nation Under a Groove”, and eventually acted as producer on much of their post-Parliament-Funkadelic work.

    One Nation.

    Images from Comics and Beats 3

    The third Comics and Beats event in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish Comics Council and the venue Vega took place last night. Cartoonists Ib Kjeldsmark, Cav Bøgelund and Mikkel Sommer improvised live with markers to the tunes of DJ TribleMe, while Bunker denizen and council chairman Thomas Thorhauge kept them on their toes as the evening’s emcee. A fourth cartoonist, Annette Carlsen was present and documented the event in her sketchbook, while photographer Frederik Høyer-Christensen did his part. See more images at the Council site.

    Al Williamson RIP

    Just paying respects to one of the great illustrators of comics, one of the masters of texture. The above story, “Food for Thought”, drawn in collaboration with Roy Krenkel for EC’s Incredible Science Fiction (full story available here) is a case in point: though never a great naturalist, Williamson brings the alien world to teeming life. While lacking the grace of his idol Alex Raymond and the energy of his contemporary, Frank Frazetta, Williamson brought an exquisite attention to detail to his work, animating it while never cluttering the pages.

    Read Tom Spurgeon’s full obituary here.

    Androids Can Dream — Robert Venditti interviewed

    By Andrew Firestone

    A great man once said, “It is no small thing to make a new world.” And he’s only really half-right. It is a rather small thing to make a new world in one’s head. It is an entirely larger accomplishment if one delivers on the artistic and philosophical promise of this new world.

    So while, yes, The Surrogates film starring Bruce Willis may have been a bit of a letdown, Robert Venditti’s consummate vision of a strikingly modernist post-modern future still vibrantly successful, in no small part to his recent prequel The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone. Begun in a mini-series published by Top Shelf in 2005, Venditti’s The Surrogates quite dutifully reimagines the Yeatsian postmodern societal disintegration in a world in which people do away with their physical selves in preference to beautiful idealized androids, which they then live vicariously through. In the first series, Atlanta has already been taken under the spell of this corporate wundermachina; Detective Harvey Greer, the main character, never even sees his wife physically to have dinner. Despite its simple premise, Venditti achieves a contemporary ethos which holds a mirror up to a reality-show culture, summoning the most biting fable of American socio-cultural trends in recent memory. What is most impressive is not that the story is soundly constructed, but how vast an area of area of the American mindscape the story encompasses, yet how personal it feels. These poignant narrative techniques evince the abilities of a great storyteller in the making.

    Asterios Polyp: Beyond the Binary

    The past week-and-a-half or so has seen David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp debated and dissected over at the Hooded Utilitarian, with discussions shooting off in a multitude of directions, amongst them the words-image binary in comics and the potential of comics as literature and the development of comics through modernism to the present day.

    Today I’ve uploaded my official contribution to the roundtable, which in part builds upon the essay I wrote in this space last year. My piece follows contributions by Noah Berlatsky, Derik Badman, Richard Cook, Craig Fischer, Vom Marlowe, Domingos Isabelinho, Caroline Small and Robert Stanley Martin. When the roundtable winds down this week, I’m sure Noah will collect them all and present them together in a single section — so look for that!

    Picks of the Week

    “It’s pretty well understood amongst the crew who’s in charge,” …[Kuchta] said.

    “How do they know that?” a Coast Guard investigator asked.

    “I guess, I don’t know […] But it’s pretty well — everyone knows.”

    — Captain Curt R. Kuchta of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig

    The weekly linkage is back! Which I guess means the blog is finally back up and running.

  • New York Times: On the Gulf oil spill. This article runs down the litany of corruption and incompetence that led to the disaster in the Mexican Gulf. Unbelievable stuff. Also, Frank Rich had a great column yesterday on Obama’s reliance on expert opinion and failure to assert control over the oil business.
  • New York Review of Books: Peter Beinart — “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment”. The US response to the week’s depressing developments in the Eastern Mediterranean is framed by this even-headed examination of attitudes to Zionism amongst the younger generations of American Jews.
  • P1: Interviews med Chris Ware, Thomas Thorhauge, Signe Parkins og Dennis Gade Kofod. Skønlitteratur på P1 stiller skarpt på den litterære udvikling indenfor tegneserien. Et glimrende interview med Ware, et provokerende med Thorhauge og et informativt med Parkins.
  • Nummer9: Web-TV fra Komiks.dk

    Så er MC Cav Bøgelund på banen med det første indslag i en serie, der bliver åbningen af det spritnye danske tegneseriesite Nummer9.dks web-TV-kanal. Cav og Tue Søttrup trawlede festivalen på såvel åbningsaftenen som i løbet af lørdagen og fik en del interviews i kassen. Hold øje med Nummer9.dk de næste dage og uger, og bookmark endelig sitet, eller smid det i din feed — der kommer til at ske en masse. Vi er kun begyndt!

    Ovenfor har vi første interview, med selveste Mads Bluhm, formand for Komiks.dk.