Angoulême 2009: Enter the Cartoon Cathouse

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La Maison close is Florent Ruppert and Jerome Mulot’s latest concept comic, and it’s about the most impressive cartoonist’s jam I have ever seen, at least in terms of inventiveness and resonant coherence. Also, it’s pretty hilarious at times. It’s made especially for the Angoulême festival and can be read on the festival site. It unites a couple dozen cartoonists, half male, half female and sets them up in a whorehouse designed by the project masterminds. The idea, briefly, is that the female cartoonists are prostitutes and the male ones johns. From there on, things get unpredictably interesting…

Picks of the Week

“During the same critical period, Vice President Cheney was urging Secretary of State Colin Powell to consider seriously the possibility that Iraq might be connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Powell found the case worse than ridiculous and scornfully concluded that Cheney had what Powell termed a “fever.” (In private, Powell used to call the Pentagon policy shop run by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, who shared Cheney’s burning interest in supposed ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq, a “Gestapo office.”)

Powell was right to conclude that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden did not work together. But Cheney and Powell did not have this crucial debate in front of the president — even though such a discussion might have undermined one key reason for war. Cheney provided private advice to the president, but he was rarely asked to argue with others and test his case. After the invasion, Cheney had a celebratory dinner with some aides and friends. “Colin always had major reservations about what we were trying to do,” Cheney told the group as they toasted Bush and laughed at Powell. This sort of derision undermined the administration’s unity of purpose — and suggests the nasty tone that can emerge when open debate is stifled by long-running feuds and personal hostility.”

–Bob Woodward

The picks of the week from around the web.

OK, it’s a short one this week, which fits well with my general blogging activity. Rest assured, however, that things will soon pick up!

  • The Washington Post: Bob Woodward — “10 Take Aways From the Bush Years.” The legendary journalist offers ten pieces of advise to the new president, based on his experience in the dark years of the Bush administration. Interesting perspectives offered.
  • Comic Book Resources (scroll down a bit): Steven Grant breaks down all the nonsense that has come to surround Dirk Deppey’s otherwise great term “superhero decadence”. Quick question: Are superhero comics these days really any worse, on average, than they were at any point in the past three decades?
  • Morgenbladet: Den norske tegneseriestribes middelmådighed

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    Til vore norske læsere vil jeg benytte muligheden for at reklamere for min seneste artikel til denne uges udgave af Morgenbladet — en anmeldelse af seks norske stribeserier: Pondus, Nemi, M, Rex Rudi, Eon og Zofies Verden. Underrubrikken lyder: “Den norske tegneseriestribe har gode vilkår, men ingen kunstneriske enere.”

    Artiklen kan læses af abonnenter her, eller naturligvis i avisen selv.

    Hvis I orker det, er de andre artikler jeg har skrevet tilgængelige på nettet: Pushwagners Soft City, Tizian i Belluno og Wien, fem norske graphic novels, David Bs Epileptisk. Striben ovenfor er fra Frode Øverlis Pondus.

    Picks of the Week

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    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Stephen Fry on language. This podcast is a real virtuoso performance from a sterling raconteur and wordweaver. Check it out.
  • Edward Gorey: The Recently Deflowered Girl. A little-known but brilliant Gorey book, in which he really fires on all his creative cylinders. Don’t miss it (thanks Tim and ComicsComics, from whom you should also go and download the PDF of their third print issue).
  • Two old and rarely seen ones from Alan Moore. “The Bowing Machine” (1991), originally printed in Raw, has Mark Beyer lending a little pictorial adventure to a somewhat heavy-handed, and uncharacteristically xenophobic, script, while “Love Doesn’t Last Forever” (1985), from Epic Illustrated, has Rick Veitch in his most hungry and delerious phase illustrating a somewhat banal EC-style yarn. (Thanks, Dirk).
  • A Life Is in the Details


    When I heard that archivist Philippe Goddin was writing a biography about Georges Remi, aka. Hergé, my first thought was: What can he possibly add to the story that has not already been covered in the previous biographies? Hergé is probably the most extensively covered comics artist, both in terms of scholarly and popular publications. Before Hergé, Lignes de vie came out in late 2007, he was already served by no less than four biographies of great repute — Thierry Smolderen and Pierre Sterckx’ Hergé, Portrait biographique (1988), Huibert van Opstal’s Essay RG (1994), Pierre Assouline’s Hergé (1996) and Benoît Peeters’ Hergé, Fils de Tintin (2002). Add to this Numa Sadoul’s seminal interview book, Tintin et moi (1975), published correspondence, and many other publications dealing with the life of Tintin’s creator.

    So what could Goddin possibly add? Having read only a fraction of the literature, I hesitate to make any sweeping statements, but my sense is on the one hand not much, but nevertheless quite a lot.

    Asymmetry

    I hear the argument that demanding of Israel a sense of proportion in its handling of the conflict with Hamas is unreasonable, in that war is always disproportional. It has been most succintly put by André Glucksman.

    There is truth to this, but that does not make the current invasion of Gaza — it’s a stretch to call it a war — any less deplorable. It rather suggests an incredible lack of empathy for the suffering of a million and a half people in Gaza, and beyond that the Palestinians as a whole. This sad conflict has been one-sidedly asymmetrical since 1948, and every time it flares up, casualties on the Palestinian side match those on the Israeli side tenfold, if not more — and in this particular instance more than hundredfold.

    You cannot relativise the suffering of the individual, of course, and everyone involved in this tragedy is ultimately the loser, but beyond all the politics, this is a pretty consistenly horrifying trend. And it only makes commentators sitting abroad implying that hundreds of civilians dying are somehow insignificant numbers, and the action that caused their death as a kind of last and only resort, seem more callous. Surely, things could be different.

    Picks of the Week

    “The collapse of daily print journalism will mean many things. For those of us old enough to still care about going out on a Sunday morning for our doorstop edition of The Times, it will mean the end of a certain kind of civilized ritual that has defined most of our adult lives. It will also mean the end of a certain kind of quasi-bohemian urban existence for the thousands of smart middle-class writers, journalists, and public intellectuals who have, until now, lived semi-charmed kinds of lives of the mind. And it will seriously damage the press’s ability to serve as a bulwark of democracy. Internet purists may maintain that the Web will throw up a new pro-am class of citizen journalists to fill the void, but for now, at least, there’s no online substitute for institutions that can marshal years of well-developed sourcing and reporting experience—not to mention the resources to, say, send journalists leapfrogging between Mumbai and Islamabad to decode the complexities of the India-Pakistan conflict.”

    — Michael Hirschorn

    The picks of the week from around the web.

    We’re still recovering from the holidays here, so it’s a slow restart. But these are good:

  • The Atlantic: End Times. Great article by Michael Hirschorn about the decline of print journalism and the problems faced by the field in this period of transition. (Thanks, Tom).
  • The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama on Samuel Huntington. While I’m not a huge fan of either, there’s no denying their stature, and I’ve read especially Huntington with great interest. While he passed away a couple of weeks ago, I therefore thought I’d link to this fine appreciation anyway.
  • du9: Xavier Guilbert takes on the myth that the depiction of pubic hair in comics and other media is prohibited by law in Japan. A great introduction to Japanese censorship law, and a must-read fro manga fans.
  • Sapristi! — Tintin at 80

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    This weekend, Tintin was created 80 years ago, by the then 21-year old Georges Remi aka. Hergé. Having been along for the ride for something like three decades, we at the Bunker are happy to see how well he’s kept himself.

    The illo is by Danish cartoonist Peter Kielland and was drawn as part of our celebration of Hergé’s centenary back in the summer of 2007. See the rest here. Also, go this critical back-and-forth on Tintin between T. Thorhauge and your’s truly conducted at the same occasion.