Category Archives: Review

Gibbons/Mézières @ BD & Comics Passion

A Saturday afternoon talk by Dave Gibbons (illustrator of, among others, Watchmen) and Jean-Claude Mézières (illustrator of Valérian and Laureline); part of the BD & Comics Passion festival at the  Institut Francais.

One of the first questions asked by the host of the event is ‘how many of the audience are involved in comics, drawing or writing?’, half the hands in the audience go up, mostly those near the front of the auditorium. ‘So’ says the host, turning to where Gibbons and Mézières sit, ‘ these are the competition’. Mézières cocks the thumb of each hand and swings his pretend guns from left to right, grinning as he does so.

It’s a light hearted opening to the hour long session which is more conversation than interrogation. Both illustrators have a pad of paper and a pen, and throughout the hour they take audience suggestions (spaceman, alien animal, next stage of human evolution, monster crushing a car), and we watch as they draw, the sketches projected on to the cinema screen behind them via a top mounted camera.

As they draw they talk, and we learn that, among other things:

  • Jean-Claude Mézières and  Pierre Christin (writer of Valérian and Laureline) have been friends ever since they shared the same air raid shelter growing up together during WWII.
  • There are three ways to make it in the comics business: be reliable, be good, be a nice person. Gibbons thinks he’s two out of three.
  • Gibbons mostly reads non-fiction these days.
  • Mézières read a lot more SF when he was young than he does now (absorbing as he read, like a sponge).
  • Gibbons is doing a DC series with Mark Millar, is writing a new series called ‘Treatment’ (described as freelance police on reality TV), and is also working on an iPad app with Liam Sharp, and others, called ‘Madefire’.
  • Mézières  was disappointed with the animated series of Valérian and Laureline.
  • There was a much bigger signing queue for Mézières  than Gibbons. I put it down to age, and being in the Institut Francais.
  • The Institut Fancais is a great place for a small comic book festival.

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Murakami @ Gagosian

‘I think the Japanese male sexual complex originated in the two-dimensional world –animation, games and so on – which then transferred to small three-dimensional sculptures. But before my sculptures Miss Ko (1997) and My Lonesome Cowboy (1998), it had never been represented life-size.’

– – – Takashi Murakami

big box pko2, 2011 – – Takashi Murakami

Recently I visited the Gagosian Gallery near Kings Cross to see the Takashi Murakami exhibition that is currently being hosted there.

Murakami is an artist I knew little about, but as you walk in to the gallery (6-24 Britannia Street: ground floor level, one single large room, white walls, high ceiling) you soon get an idea.

A giant manga sculpture greets you; a blonde girl in a maid’s outfit with exaggerated hair and huge, ponderous breasts. Another model stands a little to the right of that, a smaller, thinner girl, again manga, heavily sexualised. Other sculptures include a giant gold penis (the penis has a smiley face at the top) and equally giant silver vagina, as well as a 2D made 3D box shaped girl (pictured above).

As the press release states, this is a man playing with the ‘enduring obsession with sexuality in contemporary human society’.

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Tomorrow Pamplona : Jan Van Mersbergen

Short, powerful sentences, compact paragraphs, understated emotion. Boxing and Spanish bulls, and even an oblique reference to The Sun Also Rises. But this tale of boxer and family man making their way to the running of the bulls at Pamplona is very much its own beast, and defies the easy comparison to Hemingway.

Danny is a successful boxer fleeing a recent unnamed unpleasantness, while Robert is family man making his way to the bulls of Pamplona as he does every year. It’s here that the story begins, Danny the hitch-hiker and Robert his ride.

For Danny the journey becomes a confession and an attempt to understand; his memories of the events that lead up to the trip are expertly explored in a parallel narrative that is wholly engaging and helps build sympathy for a character who, in his silence, can be hard to like.

It is in the car, sentence by terse sentence, that we get an acute sense of just who Danny is. The dialogue is short, stilted but feels unforced and authentic in its brevity. On occasion poetic in its sparsity.

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