Respect the Architect

For this and other readers of David Mazzucchelli’s at the time almost revelatory work in Rubber Blanket and elsewhere in the rather meagre early- to mid-nineties, the wait for his Next Big Thing had become a thing unto itself, a running joke with undertones of rapt anticipation. It has been so long since we first heard of this project, since his and Paul Karasik’s better-than-the-original adaptation Paul Auster’s City of Glass (1994), that expectations could only have diminished. A few unpersuasive, short anthology pieces along the way did not help spur confidence, and neither did the fact that we saw such a proliferation of great comics by other creators in the interim.

But now that it is here, Asterios Polyp cannot help but revive this sense of promise, especially since it makes no bones about its ambition to be a Great Work. It’s no coincidence that Mazzucchelli patterns his work on the Odyssey, or that he wears his modernist ambitions on his sleeve in a way that cannot but recall that of Joyce when he did the same thing in his medium of choice.

Enter Sandman (Jump!)

This is just to note that the Hooded Utilitarians’ enlightening roundtable on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (1989-1996) has now come full circle — hop over there to check the entries by Noah Berlatsky, Ng Suat Tong, Tom Crippen, Vom Marlowe and Kinukitty. There are lots of good thoughts there and the comments are also well worth it if you’re interested in this, one of the quintessential comics series of the 90s. If nothing else, they’ve instilled in me the fear of rereading the series, but also awakened my dormant enthusiasm for same. I hope I get around to sometime before this anniversary year is over, although that might not happen. (In the meantime, there’s my recent, somewhat meagre post on Coraline).

Oh, and just to mark the occasion, check out the above video, shot at the recent Amanda Palmer (ex-Dresden Dolls) gig at the Union Chapel, London, last Saturday. There’s Neil, and he’s actually pretty hysterical (thanks to Richard for the heads up). Enjoy!!

Mere Ragnarok!

Peter Madsen og — formoder jeg — Henning Kure, der netop har afsluttet deres store Valhalla-projekt, vil i morgen, fredag d. 18 mellem kl. 16.00-18.00, være at finde i Fantask, hvor de vil signere det nye album Vølvens syner og deres andre tegneserier. Hvis du gik glip af seancen i Faraos i sidste uge, er her endnu en chance for at trykke d’herrer i hånden for endt arbejde.

Og så har jeg i øvrigt modtaget denne pressemeddelelse fra Mads Bluhm — formand, bestyrelsesmedlem Dansk tegneserieråd, Børne- og ungdomsbibliotekar Allerød bilbiotek — om et større Valhalla-arrangement i Allerød d. 24 oktober:

Picks of the Week

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Comics criticism. This has been a pretty decent week for online comics criticism. Ng Suat Tong points out the dearth of good criticism, fowllowed by a fun debate, which he follows up by this analysis of the writing in contemporary mainstream comics at the Comics Reporter. Jog had some nice observations on Tardi, while Dan Nadel, reading the recently released reedition from Fantagraphics, has initiated a reevaluation of Hal Foster the cartoonist with a response from Jeet Heer and more debate here. Noah Berlatsky, for his part, has just started a roundtable discussion on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, which promises to be interesting, and last but not least Shaenon Garrity writes affectionately and funnily on that preeminent publication of comicsa criticism, The Comics Journal, on the occasion of its upcoming 300th issue.
  • Boro Tintin. I know this is completely juvenile, but it cracks me up. The wonders of YouTube bring you Tintin à la Middlesborough. Much more here.
  • Politiken: to gode tekster om Danmark og omegn lige nu. Medieforsker Stig Hjarvard markerer sig som en af de efterhånden yderst sjældne humanister, der taler den herskende smafundsorden imod i dette interview om det, han opfatter som ‘den nye kulturelle overklasse’ i og hinsides Danmark. Jens-Martin Eriksen og Frederik Stjernfelt beskriver venstrefløjens laden Oplysningen og ytringsfriheden i stikken i kampen om vælgerne i kølvandet på højredrejningen af samfundet og konfliktsymptomer som Muhammedtegningerne.
  • A Fine Likeness

    I was excited to learn of, and especially to see, the spectacular results the recent cleaning of a Spanish 17th-century portrait at the Metropolitan Museum have yielded. Hidden under a thick, dull varnish for ages, the picture has long been taken to be by a follower of Velázquez, but has now been upgraded to fully autograph status. I’ve only seen the images published with the press release, but it looks entirely kosher to me.