Check the Pedigree

While I remember, there’s this little curiosity. At the Christie’s preview I went to the week before last, there was this astonishing intarsiaed Louis XIV tortoise shell/pietra dura cabinet, which went on to sell for a good £4.5 million.

Anyway, what leaped out at me immediately, being mired fatally in Titian’s prints at the moment, was a little dog design inlaid on one of the drawers. This dog actually has a pretty distinguished pedigree, probably originating in a very damaged, early 1530s drawing by Titian in the Louvre, which was reproduced in several engravings in the later 16th Century, and it also migrated into the master’s very large and famous — and famously perplexing — mythology, also in the Louvre, called the ‘Pardo Venus’.

This painting is usually thought to have been initiated in the 1510s and finished in the 1550s and sent to King Philip II of Spain, but for complicated reasons I won’t go into here, the documentation advanced in support of this is highly unlikely to refer to the Louvre canvas, which rather looks like a painting of the early 1530s. The dog, then, seems initially to have been devised to accompany the shepherd in the drawing, before it was transferred wholesale into the collage-like painting.

The Italian craftsmen behind the cabinet, who cannot have seen the painting, must have known the dog from one of the prints after the Louvre design. Another example of the enduring popularity and wide dissemination of Titian’s printed designs. Wonder whether some of the other animal designs have similar sources…

Er, OK, this is really obscure, but I’m off to Paris and the Louvre now, so maybe that’s why I thought of it.

Our World at COP15

Yes, the big event of the week for many is of course the Climate Conference in Copenhagen and the Bunker’s there in the form of Thomas Thorhauge, who is working with the grassroots visual communications group Biggerpicture to convey the aspirations of the World Wildlife Fund at the conference. He is part of a handful of illustrators cartooning live in one of the cafes in the main aisle of the Bella Centre, as well as publishing the pamphlet Draw the Line every other day. Check in with them if you’re there and here’s Thomas’ own report if you read Danish.

Picture’s from Biggerpicture’s Flickr page showing Erik Petri, Thorhauge and Ole Qvist-Sørensen, as well as an issue of Drawing the Line.

What recession?

Jeez, that Raphael drawing I posted about a couple weeks ago sold for over £29 million! That’s a whopping £13 million above the highest official estimate! And the Rembrandt offered at the same sale went for £20.2 million. Paul Raison of Christie’s notes the obvious: the recession certainly hasn’t affected interest in, and the prices of, old masters at auction. I guess they’re a safe investment.

I saw both, as well as many other interesting works on display, at Christie’s last Friday, and I must say the Raphael was amazing. As I noted earlier, it’s not a particularly innovative drawing in his oeuvre, but it is awe-inspiring to realise up close how confidently the forms were laid down, following only perfunctorily the pounce marks transferred to the paper from an earlier sketch. The Muse walks through the room.

The new Comics Journal launches!

The new, web-based iteration of the best magazine of comics criticism has now been launched in a beta version and is already seeing steady updates from its cohort of bloggers and other writers. Please go look at what will surely become a staple of the comics internet.

I should add that I will be appearing there too, albeit it not immediately. Teaching and work on my PhD dissertation is taking up all my time, resulting in other commitments backlogging, giving me a nice load of diverse work to look forward to once I submit my dissertation.

The Danish Comics Council: An Update

Regulars here at the Bunker, and most people in Danish comics, may be aware of the establishment earlier this year of the Danish Comics Council — an organisation working to increase the knowledge and appreciation of the comics medium in Denmark. Since I’m a member of the board, I figured I would provide a little update in English about what’s been going on.

Over the past few months, we have been working for the establishment of an officially recognised comics education in Denmark and we are happy to announce that plans for such a programme is underway at the Animation Workshop in Viborg and will hopefully launch next year.

We are also working for the establishment of a comics centre, which simultaneously will serve as an archive, a museum and, more broadly, a cultural institution representing comics to the Danish public. We are seeking to consolidate comics in school curricula as well as an academic discipline, and we have undertaken the registration of all new comics publications and will compile an annotated list in an annual compendium.

Scrooge: The Lost Adventure?

Swedish cartoonist and Donaldist Joakim Gunnarson has acquired what he claims to be a incomplete script by Carl Barks for an Uncle Scrooge story. This should be pretty interesting news to anyone into in the Good Duck Artist, and I for one would love to take a closer look at this document.

Gunnarson describes it in some detail on his blog. He speculates that the story — which involves a trip by a so-called “do-gooders'” club, to which I assume Scrooge belongs, to a tropical island, and wrings satire from their encounter with the native population — would have been a 20-pager and dates to the early 60s, which sounds about right from his outline of the plot. He doesn’t show nearly enough for anyone to be able to judge the document’s authenticity, however. The image he has up is of a document in Barks’ hand and it looks intriguing.

Here’s hoping he will show us more.

Image from “The Status Seeker”, Uncle Scrooge #41, 1963.

Three Hundred!

tcj300.jpgAfter 33 years of publication, the best magazine about comics, The Comics Journal, now celebrates its 300th issue. Which is also going to be the last in the current format, before the recently announced migration to the web sometime later this month. In short, the printed Journal will be semiannual in the future, with a larger page count, better design (we hope), and less transient content than your average issue of the last three decades, while will provide day-to-day news coverage and criticism in the proud tradition of the magazine.

While we’re staying tuned for that, the editors have decided to put #300 online in its entirety. A great treat. Go there now and dig into the impressive line-up of artists’ talks: Art Spiegelman and Kevin Huizenga, Jean-Christophe Menu and Sammy Harkham, Frank Quitely and Dave Gibbons, Dave Mazzucchelli and Dash Shaw, Alison Bechdel and Danica Novgorodoff, Howard Chaykin and Ho Che Anderson, Denny O’Neil and Matt Fraction, Jaime Hernandez and Zak Sally, Ted Rall and Matt Bors, Jim Borgman and Keith Knight, Stan Sakai and Chris Schweizer.

In addition to that, there are in-depth reviews of Chris Ware’s ACME #19 and David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp (read the Bunker on them here and here) and contributions by all your favourite columnists, plus yours truly, minus Kenneth Smith.

I have written an essay about Moebius’ Hermetic Garage as a constant in his creative life for as long as the Journal has been published and sincerely hope you will enjoy it, if nothing else as partial compensation for posting nothing of real substance here at the Bunker these days of dissertation drudgery.

Congrats to Gary, Kim and everyone else who has contributed to making the Journal one of the greatest critical and historical resources in comics for over thirty years!

UPDATE: They’ve now withdrawn everything from the website; it is now only accessible to subscribers. Bummer.