Monday, December 24, 2012

Yep, it is a tough time for Santa...he has to do all of that giving, but what does he get?...
Hopefully Mrs. Kringle has something good waiting for him at home, just like we always have something good for the readers here at Plopish!

A Merry X-mas and a Happy New Year!

see you in 2013

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Yes,  hate...a strong emotion, a powerful force...and they say that most critics are just failed artists gone sour on art, desperately seeking revenge for their own shortcomings by directing ridicule at the work of others, these sad creatures being fed not by the light of love and creation, but by the dark and destructive energies of hate and envy...

But not so here at Plopish!, I myself do present our readers with insightful criticism of select masterpieces from the realms of Comicopia but today I also offer for your scrutinizing eyes, my own early cartoon work!

Yes, the above rendering is a scan of a quite talented little piece I did back in 1984, when I was a mere lad of eighteen. The inspirational sources are perhaps a little bit too obvious in this piece, but I command the readers to please remember that this is from the hand of a very young artist, not yet fully matured. At first glance we can definitely detect some Jack Kirby (dynamic "action" physique), Wallace "Wally" Wood (dramatic close-ups), classic Manga (intricate balancing of blacks and whites) Harvey Pekar (autobiographical, "self-exposing" narrative) and of course many others,

The story, is as simple and straightforward as a Haiku poem, the main (and only) character simply "hates summer" (cleverly used as the title) because the sunlight makes the dust particles collecting on his furniture, more visible...

Pretty darn brilliant I'd say!  and one can only lament that my decision to pursue a career in fine art prevented me from further investigations into the possibilities of the graphic novel form, considering such promising beginnings...."but that's another story" as they say...

To be continued

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Doing it easy here today, because...well, because!

Which means simply posting a link to Ed Piskor's absolutely brilliant online comic (we's hip to da nu shit man!) : The Hip Hop Family Tree 

It doesn't matter if you are interested in Hip Hop music or not, this is a facinating story about a highly significant popular culture and its emergence from humble beginnings in 1970's New York to the global super-stardom of today.

And the easy part is?...well, this was shamelessly copied from another excellent comic book resource, Danish website Nummer 9


To be continued

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Changes... you start noticing them more as you grow older, the little signs that time is passing and some day, time will pass you over! Meaning: Death... yes, the "D" word! the end! finito!

But what's that got to do with comic books?...nothing I suppose, except that Manuel "Spain" Rodriguez  died during the week and that means one of the greats of underground comics has turned in his last page.

Rodriguez was from the original Zap comics team, the legends who practically invented underground comix but now that he's gone, I realised that I knew very little of "Spain"...(as he was nicknamed already in childhood, growing up in a racially mixed neighborhood), I had often mistaken his drawings for those of S. Clay Wilson, and had previously deemed these to be "below par" when compared to my underground hero: R.Crumb.

What I'd missed out on, was that Spain's art represented the real modern art of the late twentieth century. Art not dealing with the absurdities of (high brow) modern art formalism (the surfaces people paint and draw on are flat, so it's s illusion, dig?..dig?..) instead, his was an art exploring the seedy and violent life at the lower levels of industrial-age metropolises, or chronicling the adventures of Spain's character Thrashman,  a Marxist super hero!  fighting the oppressor by treating KKKapitalists as they should be treated: with a dose of hot lead from his squad machine gun!

Now that he's dead, Spain Rodriguez sadly turns out to have been my kind of artist!  drawing sexy women in high heels and tight leather, patrolling steamy garbage stewn streets! Spain filled his panels with powerful motorcycles, roaring through industrial wastelands at night, ridden by nihilistic freedom loving outsider biker/ revolutionaries, blasting machine guns on their journey to Hell, or Nirvana!

Well...I guess that's what you get for not being born in a cultural hot spot like the good ol' USA...important things happen that you only discover forty years later...but I'm making good on that now, because not all of market capitalism is bad, there are good companies, like beautiful Fantagraphics who've devoted their efforts not at making profits marketing stuff they know is garbage, but by putting out cool shit! and who naturally published the collected Trashman stories as Trashman Lives! back in 1989. This also means it's long out of print, so I'm buying it over the internet, from a second-hand bookseller in Germany...

So, it's like this: "Spain" Rodriguez is dead, but his art lives on...because it was done in the democratic media of the mass produced comic book. I don't need to go to a big, expensively built,  art museum to see it, or be a wealthy private collector owning the actual pages he drew. I can pick his art up at a reasonable price, as a printed copy, no different from thousands of other similar copies. Take it to my home and read it, enjoy it, learn from it, share it with others.

Yep, "Spain" Rodriguez is dead. No way to change that. But his art lives on, through the Internet, through publishing, through printing, paper, mass production, commerce, inspiration, hard work, black ink, white paper, grey pencils.

"Spain" Rodriguez is dead

Trashman lives!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Well... missed last week's posting here at Plopish...but hey!  - I've got  to make a living! so I had to spend the majority of my available time when not at my regular job, preparing a course in Apple Motion 5 for some freelance teaching work (and yes, I do expect a medal and a "thank you" letter from the Queen to arrive any day soon)

But, every time I feel like complaining about the hard merciless life here in Copenhagen, Denmark, all I need to do is scoot over to the Drawman blog and catch up on the lifestyle of a true blooded comic book pro.

Working professionally as a comic book artist since his teens, Drawman has been planning a crossover from comic book artist to illustration and fine artist for some years, beginning by doing a strenuous MFA course in painting. Of course he's still doing regular comic book work on the side, and teaching illustration classes, and doing some freelance inking, and some freelance penciling, some storyboard work, and...

I greatly enjoy the optimism and energy of Drawman (real name:Michael Manley) as he strides through his life as an professional artist, so totally different from my own experiences as a state-educated, modern, fine art artist. The guy works like a dog, a lot of the stuff he's doing isn't really that interesting for him to do, there's always the deadline hanging over his head, payments can be delayed for months

yet, he seems to....have fun...

Check out the long list of blog entries (Drawman's been going at it since 2005), perhaps starting with these thoughts on choosing to be an artist

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yep... passed on that one when I saw it many years ago at the local newsstand.

The first volume of Love & Rockets by Los Bros. Hernandez,  published in Denmark in 1983 as "Mekanix". Of course I passed on was obviously drawn in that slick, professional Superhero style! - it even had some Superhero-looking characters on the cover!
"Superhero comics"... I didn't read that type of comics. Superheroes meant stupid stories about flying men wearing long johns and standing on top of skyscrapers, saying something like: "Beware, Crypthon - you can't escape the wrath of Dramatigor!!" and I simply couldn't  understand why their speech bubbles had some of the words printed in bold face?.. just plain stupid. So I passed on that stupid, superhero, Mekanix stuff, and instead went looking for the latest issues of what I considered to be the coolest comic book stories ever made

This went on for a couple of years, until some time in the mid-eighties I picked up Mekanix again, at a library. I was now in my late teens and my aesthetic sensibilities had become somewhat more advanced. Now I could appreciate the high standard of the drawings in Mekanix, the expert use of black solids and the perfect curvature of the lines. So I gave it another chance, started reading...hmm a couple of girls, about my own age. They're in a library (just as I was...) they are on opposite sides of a shelf full of books, they can't see each other, but one of them says: "Thirty-five dollars and a six pack to my name!", making the other girl reply: "SIX PACK!!"

Now I got it!..they were quoting the lyrics from "Six Pack" a punk song by Black Flag! I knew that song! I owned that record! those two girls in that comic book were punks! who liked punk music! just like I did! 

I read on...

And the rest is (ongoing) history... I started buying the L&R comic books when I moved to Copenhagen, stopped reading L&R because I had more important things to do! (...) returned to reading L&R comics because I desperately needed quality literature and art  in my life... stopped reading L&R comics because Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (apparently) stopped doing them... and then returned to reading L&R comics because they started doing them again...but then...

Well, doesn't really matter... come June 2013 I'll be waiting in line, probably with other die hard fans, to finally meet  this guy

To be continued...

Sunday, November 4, 2012


No. It's not true, that I only like old comics. Because if it were,  I would never have picked up Sergio Ponchione's Grotesque (2008) Still, the reason it caught my attention probably had much to do with the quaint old-fashioned style of the artwork, looking something like a 1920's German expressionist film drawn in the manner of Popeye.

So what's it all about?... well, after purchasing Grotesque I discovered it to be volume two (of four) with volume one with an almost completely different set of characters and setting...
I still have to pick up volume three and four for the conclusion of the tale, but this is where we come in: On a stormy night we follow a grey bearded old man on his journey across rain drenched plains to Cryptic City, controlled by the evil Barons of the von Cryptic  family. The source of their power is a mystic pact made generations back, enabling them to make a very nice living selling emotions to the towns inhabitants.

As our elderly hero with the three foot beard, umbrella and rimmed glasses start sniffing around Cryptic City, horrible secrets begin to unwind. Can he save the town from the evil barons? will the nun selling holy slippers slip him some useful information? is detective Doppiofaccio a useful ally or a bumbling buffoon... and what's hiding out in room 414 at the mysterious Cryptic Hotel?...

 I will not disclose more here... but leave further investigations to readers who wish to be challenged by a complex, multi layered story, whimsical humour, and the distinctive, beautifully graphic drawing style of Mr. Ponchione.

To be continued.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Being a slave of an old habit, I recently tossed Juan Jose Ryp’s No Hero into my shopping bag. I discovered Ryp’s obvious talent when he did Robocop with Frank Miller a few years back and I became fascinated by his ultra-explicit style.

First I was convinced Ryp was a new synonym for Geof Darrow. Darrow has the same tendency towards explicit expressionism. Also Darrow worked together with Miller on another ultraviolent title called Hard Boiled back in the 90’s. Around the same time as Robocop, Darrow came out with Shaolin Cowboy - also stuffed with gore and chopped off heads. Ryp’s artwork resembles Darrow’s in many ways. The most obvious difference lies in the colour work which in Ryp’s case is smooth and explosive taking full advantage of computer colouring and shading techniques. Secondly Ryp’s characters tend to seem more emotional - or at least angry or painful which seem to be about the only emotions relevant to him. 

Shortly after Robocop, Miller crashed into a deep hole of self-reference and political righteousness and my admiration for him started to turn. I don’t think Ryp has fallen into that exact same hole. To be more precise; Ryps has always been dwelling in a very gloomy place. Ryp lives in a world where everybody is driven to neurosis by their own desires, anger and hate. This misery always turns into a bloody mess. For a comicbook fan it can be interesting to watch, because Ryp is a very skilled craftsman and the graphical dynamism can be strikingly entertaining. It’s still a mystery to be he doesn’t seem to get more recognition. Because I know a huge audience for this humor absent cynicism exists, it’s just not a part of my personal sphere of interest any longer.

When I discovered Ryp in 2005 I said to myself: Wow this is cutting edge! I was convinced I'd discovered a superstar in the making. Today his artwork is still rather unique, at least it's extreme in its provocative violent excess. But Ryp is no superstar and he probably never will be. There is no development, it's impossible to tell the artistic difference between a spread from Robocop and No Hero.

Can you figure out which artist Ryp is imitating here? A priceless beer is to be won... Just leave your answer in the comments.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yes, Denmark is a small country...and if you wanted to make a list of famous Danes, and I mean a list of Danes famous outside of Denmark itself, it would be a very short list and most likely with Søren Kierkegaard the philosopher and Niels Bohr the Nobel prize winning physicist at the top of it, but of course also including our Cannes award winning meister film director: Lars Von Trier.

So what's that got to do with comics?...not much except that back in 1999 von Triers production company Zentropa published a wacky and quite funny comic book featuring "interpretations" of all of von Triers films made up until that time. It was called: The Egghead Trap

The creator of this forty page attack on all seriousness found in von Triers films was Jakob S. Boeskov who later made a name for himself in the international art world when he submitted the fantasy ID Sniper rifle design to an international arms fair and was approached by contractors who wanted to produce it. The Egghead Trap was created when Boeskov was an emerging new comic book talent (something he seems to have abandoned since) and is drawn in a Lo-Fi style seemingly influenced by classic sixties underground comics, John Holmstrom, MAD magazine and nineties comic book stars like Daniel Clowes and Peter Bagge.

As mentioned nothing is spared to make fun of both von Trier's films and himself, especially his psycho-sexual hangups and alleged fondness for the Third Reich... and one must admire that von Trier and Zentropa agreed to be the publishers of The Egghead Trap, they could just as well have sued Boeskov!

Definitely one of the more obscure things to emerge from the LVT/ Zentropa empire and I would probably never have heard about it had I not found it in a central Copenhagen second hand bookstore.

Today Boeskov shows at prestigious art world galleries and resides in New York but after reading The Egghead Trap you can't help feeling a bit sorry that he didn't continue his work as a comic book artist.

To be continued...

Monday, October 22, 2012

In my early teens I started biking all the way from the outer suburb where I grew up to downtown Copenhagen. As always my destination was the wonderful world of This image is the cover of their catalogue from 1980. A few of the folks who worked there by then is still behind the counter. I still drop by at least once a week.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Being of modest means and firmly rooted in the belief that all new things suck until they become old things...I often pass over the seductive new arrivals displayed in the windows of  Copenhagen's leading comic book stores,  to instead browse the dusty brown cardboard boxes filled with dog-eared and decaying comic books at the leading second hand comic book stores. Weird and disgusting as this may be, it  has its  picking up the pictured copy of underground comic Slow Death #4 a few summers ago, which contained not just one, but two early Sci-Fi stories by Richard Corben, plus the cover, signed with his pseudonym: GORE.

Published in 1972 by Last Gasp, Slow Death is typical of what you might call the "second wave" of underground comic books (after the pioneering days of the late sixties) containing mainly sloppily drawn story lines centered around dope smoking and/ or sex, plus one or two more stories of superior quality (usually dealing with the same subjects...)

In this number Richard Corben clearly takes the lead with "The Awakening" and "Mangle, Robot Mangler" drawn in Corben's early styles which masterfully combines his legendary airbrush technique (in black and white) with a brush and pen inking technique uniquely his own. What I cherish about Corben/ GORE as a Sci-Fi artist is that he often introduces visual ideas and story-line concepts that are both mind blowing and truly original, a talent he shares with other Sci-Fi masters like Wally Wood and Moebius.

In The Awakening we meet Clyde William Boris, deep frozen in the year 1975 due to terminal cancer, and now brought back to life in the year 2163... only to find himself confronted by girls with sexy curvaceous bodies, but adorned with the faces of middle-aged men! (of the chain smoking and scotch-drinking type...) A few other surprises are also in store for the unfortunate Clyde in this story of a mere four pages.

The second story, Mangle, Robot Mangler (a six-pager) is obviously a take on Russ Manning's Magnus, Robot Fighter, but in typical counter-culture style  the tables are turned on the robot-bashing protagonist and this time around we are handed a sizeable helping of some typical Richard Corben action and ultra-violence, as the overly self-confident Mangle battles a bio-robot but ends up somewhat broken, and much in need of a helping hand...

I suppose that some day "The complete works of Richard Corben" will hit the stores in deluxe hardcover edition with a full color giclee print signed by the master. In the meantime, I'll have my fun searching the netherworld of comic shops and digging out these gems  - they're well worth it.

To be continued!

Jim Steranko - one of the few comicbook artist to look like his own art: Slick smooth and stylish. Whatever happened to this brilliant artist after he retired from comics in 1969? Did he become Paul Gulacy's teacher? We will know if we look very carefully but the internet is very brief when it comes to this obvious connection.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Well,  a big thanks to Hans for taking this initiative!

As Hans mentioned we are both comic book fans, with Hans handling the decadent capitalist superheroes (expertly drawn comics about flying men in coloured underwear), and me taking care of the artistic revolutionary comics (sloppily drawn comics about sex, drugs and women with very large breasts, or behinds)

Since I grew up in the seventies (just as Hans did), and was young in the eighties and nineties, most of my exposure to the media of comics happened then and I consider this to be very fortunate since I arrived at the time of Metal Hurlant/ Heavy Metal magazine and their early generation of artists. A time when comics were definitely no longer for kids, a time when anything could (and did)  happen on a piece of white board with panels drawn on it. A very exciting time.

Of course, I didn't pick up the original Metal Hurlant, published in France in 1974 but the Danish language version called Total Metal which reached the newsstands and bookstores in the mid-eighties. This I read with feverish pleasure, discovering the work of Moebius, Serge Clerc, Daniel Torres and many others. Later on, I dived into the American version Heavy Metal where I encountered the genius of Richard Corben and other American visionaries, like Paul Kirchner and his wonderful The Bus, still one of my all-time favourites.

In the nineties came Daniel Clowes and "Los Bros" Hernandez, but since I stopped developing as a person around the year 2000 and think all new comics published after that date are mainly shite, I've begun to dig into the fascinating world of Golden Age comic books, now available as scans at websites operated by fans.

Well, that's all for now - to be continued!..

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Game of Thrones is turned into a graphic novel by the same publisher which also publishes the famous book series. Bantam is a traditional publisher which doesn't have much experience with comic books. The good news is that it's a lengthy release. The first 180 pages of comic book cover only the first half of the first book. Plenty of drawn pages lie ahead and we can be pretty sure, not too many details will be left out. A pity these ambitions don't show through all aspects of this first installment...

Clearly it has been Bantam's goal to capture younger readers. From that perspective, Tommy Patterson is not a bad choice as the artist chosen for the job. TPs style is cartoonish and childish. All characters are rendered younger and more alike compared to the TV series. The younger characters is given more space, suddenly Sansa start seeming like an interesting character.

What also makes mature readers keep their distance is the poor depicting of human emotions. From the artwork it can be hard to tell if a character is truely annoyed or angry. As you read through the book you start fantasising what this could have been with an artist that suits the adult nature of the original story. Brian Bolland perhaps?

It’s now more than 6 months ago that Moebius passed away. Due to mediocre rules for naming children here in DK, my wife and I were not allowed to name our new-born son Moebius. At the opening of this blog it's time to honour the master once more!

One of the things I really admire about Moebius’ works is that it got better and better over the years. The insane escapades of the Incal lies many years back and some will argue, that he was less creative towards the end of his life. That might be so but the quality of his craftsmanship never ceased to improve. The final Blueberry story, Apache for instance, shows superior inking technique. The way he gives shape to the drawn objects are nothing less than outstanding. The inking goes perfectly well with the colouring, rendering and explaining the depth of each scene in an outstanding manner. And since Giraud was famous long before Photoshop was around, he also had a serene relationship with his computer-colouring.

It also seems Moebius and Giraud was united before his death. The two artists become one again. I think that could have been Giraud’s secret ambition when he drew his above mentioned Blueberry album. The inking of this story is sharper and clearer than any other Blueberry story. And the colours are slightly brighter than normal. Intentionally Giraud pushed the image of the western backdrop, to utilize the aesthetics of a Moebius SF environment.

He was a traveller all his life, he never settled for one particular style. Every single time a new story was published, the style was slightly different from the last. A true master he was.