Picks of the Week

Obama’s career up to now, lucky as it was, had been wanting in singular achievements for which he alone was responsible. His experience seems not to have taught him the law of natural selection in politics by which majorities are put together out of remainders. Any act that achieves something concrete will leave small multitudes of the disappointed keening but unheard. There are hurt feelings in politics, which only time can cure if anything can. This is a truth now staring at Barack Obama, on several different fronts, but he does not accept it easily. His way of thinking is close to the spirit of that Enlightenment reasonableness which supposes a right course of action can never be described so as to be understood and not assented to.

— David Bromwich

The picks of the week from around the web.

Backlash week here at the Bunker.

  • London Review of Books: “Obama’s Delusion”. David Bromwich presents a thoroughly pessimistic assessment of the Obama adminstration’s performance so far. An interesting analysis of how centrist politics function in the warped context current political discourse, which points out a number of depressing compromises Obama has had to make to keep it together.
  • Wall Street Journal: “Media Moguls and Creative Destruction”. Former WSJ publisher and Dow-Jones VP L. Gordon Crovitz on how digital is changing the game for media. Nothing terribly new, but interesting to see a major media player describe how everything he knew to be true maybe isn’t anymore.
  • The Daily Telegraph: “It couldn’t get worse for Damien Hirst”, Mark Hudson reviews the reviews of the current Hirst paintings show at the Wallace Collection and cautiously predicts a change in the public attitude to celebrity art. Some of the points may be overstated slightly, but it’s nevertheless an well-conceived critique.
  • The Groovy Age of Horror: Interview with Benjamin Marra. Following up on aspects of the New Action Panel at SPX, Marra elaborates upon his notion of comics as low art in an essentialist mission statement that should ruffle some feathers. There’s hell of a lot to disagree with in what he says, but it’s an interesting development in the ongoing art-comics backlash.
  • George Tuska RIP

    The great American journeyman comic book artist George Tuska has passed away at the age of 93. Tom Spurgeon’s obit is your one-stop for info (update: Mark Evanier now has a fine piece up too), but I just wanted to pay my respects here.

    I always associated Tuska’s style with toughness. There was a visceral quality to his draughtsmanship. His work spans almost the entire history of the comic book and there’s tons I have never seen, but some of my favorite stuff by him are the Captain America stories where he worked over Kirby layout (Tales of Suspense #70-74, 1965-66) — the King’s raw power and fluid storytelling rendered in long, resilient brushstrokes. A strange, rough break with the beautiful work by Kirby and Giacoia/Ayers that dominated that great run of comics, but still memorable. His subsequent work on Iron Man (#5-25, 1968-70) was also a high point, even if somewhat knocked off Gene Colan’s great example; strangely frenetic storytelling (nothing ever seems to be entirely at rest in those drawings) given an elegant less-is-more counterpoint by the inks of the great Johnny Craig.

    Rest in Peace.

    …Oh, another thing.

    The Fingerprint of a Master?

    museo-ideale-leonardo-cp-53.jpgJust a short update on that gorgeous drawing, which is gaining recognition as a Leonardo at the moment, and which I wrote about briefly earlier this year. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse once again to run a picture here.

    Apparently, a forensic art analyst, Peter Paul Biro, has now found a fingerprint on it that he says corresponds with prints found on Leonardo’s unfinished Saint Jerome in the Vatican.

    I don’t know. There are still too many mysteries attached to this sheet for me to quite buy it: unusual support (vellum), unusual technique (coloured chalks), no provenance, and even the slightly too spectacular prettiness. But many people who know much more about Leonardo than I, including Martin Kemp who’s quoted in the article, seem to concur, and it is an extraordinarily fine-looking work.

    Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Commonweal: “Culture and Barbarism”. Terry Eagleton offers a compelling analysis of today’s fault lines between secularism and religion, which he analyses in terms of a dialectic of civilization and culture. A thoughtful corrective to the new atheists and an unsettling entreaty for us to confront the worst in ourselves. Not new, but if you haven’t read it and are interested in the issues, it’s highly recommended (thanks, Noah!).
  • The New Yorker: “The Cost Conundrum” Again, this is not new, but the article has been an important reference point for the Obama administration’s efforts to argue the case for universal health care, and is pretty horrific reading. Slightly related, my new favorite conservative columnist, Ross Douthat on Obama’s somewhat ill-advised Nobel Prize.
  • The Independent: “Gore Vidal’s United States of Fury”. Highly entertaining profile/interview, by Johann Hari, with a great iconoclast, who amongst other things explains why he has no faith in the Obama administration, and once again adresses his beast of a mother.
  • Steranko: “The Block”. A gorgeous rarity, this didactic self-help comic from 1971 showcases Steranko’s chops in rendering the kind of gritty urban environment he would invariably insert into his mainstream comics. And once again, it becomes evident how much Frank Miller cribbed from this guy (thanks, Henry!).
  • Dansk Tegneserieråds Nyhedsbrev Oktober 2009

    Ja, så er der nyt fra Dansk Tegneserieråd. Vi udsendte i fredags vores seneste nyhedsbrev, hvor vi løfter sløret for hvad vi har foretaget os over sommeren.

    Der begynder at ske ting og sager, ikke mindst i forhold til etableringen af en dansk tegneserieuddannelse, og vi har som det fremgår også et arrangement på programmet: Tegneseriesalon i Literaturhaus, København, d. 15 november kl. 20.00, der med titlen “Tegneserien Anno 2009” tager temperaturen på mediet lige nu. Udover en præsentation af Rådets arbejde, har vi inviteret en bred vifte af danske tegneseriekritikere til en diskussion af mediets tilstand og muligheder. Det drejer sig om Christopher Arzrouni, Hans Bjerregaard, Kristian Lindberg, Christian Monggaard, Jakob Stegelmann, Henry Sørensen og Søren Vinterberg, med ordstyrer Thomas Thorhauge. Sæt endelig kryds i kalenderen.

    Nå her er selve nyhedsbrevet:

    Mr. Magic RIP

    This morning, Mr. Magic will be buried in Brooklyn. He died last week of a heart attack, at age 53. Pretty much the inventor of hip hop radio, John Rivas got his start on the airwaves with the “Disco Showcase” on New York’s WHBI in 1979, hosting under the moniker Mr. Magic. In 1982 he launched the now legendary show “Rap Attack” on WBLS along with DJs Marley Marl — who would himself become a legend as the producer and helmsman of the Juice Crew — and Fly Ty. The show ran from 1982-1984, and subsequently moved around, touching down at both WHBI and WDAS. It ended sometime in the late 80s.

    “Rap Attack” was the first spot on commercial radio where you could listen to hip hop and Magic launched many a career playing the demos of up and comers, some of whom would go on to great things. He quickly became associated with the Queens-based Juice Crew, which comprised such legends as MC Shan, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Craig G, Roxanne Shanté, and Master Ace. Several of these would become signature artists of 80s hip hop and remain amongst the genre’s greatest.

    Charles Burns til Komiks.dk

    Der er åbenbart ikke en ende på de gode nyheder for næste års internationale tegneseriefestival i København, Komiks.dk. Ware-Clowes-synergien lader til at have trukket tredje del af kløveret med sig, så festivalen nu også kan præsentere Charles Burns som officiel gæst!

    Burns er endnu en af mestrene indenfor den fornyelse af tegneserien, vi har set de seneste 10-20 år. Han var fast bidrager til Art Spiegelman og Francoise Moulys legendariske Raw og er kendt derfra med serier der gik på strandhugst i hans barndoms populærkultur og americana, så de kunne agere klangbund for det underbevidsthedens følelsesregister, der animerer hans arbejde. Hans kontrastrige, rent definerede grafiske billeder er umiddelbart genkendelige, og eminente til fortættelsen af de ofte ganske ukomfortable, for ikke at sige skræmmende følelser han sætter i spil.

    Den foreløbige kulmination var hans monumentale tiårsprojekt, Black Hole, som han afsluttede i 2004 — et stort anlangt ensemblestykke, der benytter mutationen som metafor for pubertetens modningsproces. Et følsomt realiseret tidsbillede, der fanger 70ernes ungdomskultur og samtidig leverer en dybt menneskelig historie med al den gru og skønhed en sådan bør indeholde.

    Sort Hul, som den kommer til at hedde, er under forberedelse hos Forlaget Fahrenheit. Festivalen løber af stabelen 21-23 maj, 2010.

    For mere info, check denne udgivelsesoversigt, denne profil, denne galleripræsentation og dette interview. Pressemeddelelsen er her.

    Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

    Things are on the DL here at the Bunker for the moment — last stretch of dissertation — but I do have a few nice comics links I wanted to share with everyone who hasn’t already seen them and recommend to anyone who has skipped them.

  • ASIFA: Basil Wolverton on cartoon sounds. Great essay on sound effects by a master, from the 1970s Graphic Story Magazine. Lots of eye-popping art too!
  • Comics Reporter. Tom Spurgeon offers up the best piece of criticism of the week, writing about five comics he finds value in rereading. Great stuff.
  • SPX & TCAF Panels. Sean Collins has a downloadable mp3 as well as an online transcript of the ‘New Action’ panel he moderated at SPX the weekend before last. The panelists — Frank Santoro, Benjamin Marra, Kazimir Strzepek, and Shawn Cheng — offer lots of interesting thoughts on comics storytelling. Also, Dash Shaw’s notes from the last TCAF Mainstream/Alternative panel contains some nuggets on Jack Kirby from Santoro and others.
  • Hype: Seriekritikk.no

    Den mangeårige norske tegneseriekritiker og -aktivist Tor Arne Hegna har netop oprettet en nyt kritisk website for tegneserier, Seriekritikk.no. Det er en overbygning på det nu hedengagne Tegneserier.no, som han bestyrede mellem 2003-2007 og rummer det sites arkiv, der tæller et opbud at solide kritiske anmeldelser. Tor Arne opdfordrer til både debat og deltagelse, så kig derover og bliv oplyst!