Sunday, August 29, 2010

F/X, Stakeout

I made a double feature out of it. In F/X Bryan Brown is a special effects guy asked by the justice department to fake the death of mob guy Jerry Orbach. It goes wrong and Brown is the innocent man on the run, using all the knowledge from his job to survive. Brian Dennehy is a cop, trying to find out what the hell is going on.

It's part Hitchcock, part high concept, still entertaining.

In Stakeout Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez are cops doing surveillance on Madeleine Stowe, ex-girlfriend of escaped convict Aidan Quinn. Then Dreyfuss falls in love with Stowe. Who wouldn't? The script is by Jim Kouf who also wrote The Hidden. The film also stars a young Forest Whitaker.

Well, it's a popcorn film, a mix of everything. Carchase, buddy movie, romance, a comedy version of Rear window. It's good, but the ending is a bit dragged out. There's also a quick scene of Madeleine Stowe naked for those who care about such things. I don't!

How 80s is it? F/X: 4/10. There's a real score but also a song by Huey Lewis and the News. Stakeout: 5/10. There's a synth score, and the big showdown at the end takes place in a factory. That's something that started in the 80s, no?

Two covers

One for a book of philosophy, one for a cd of a Norwegian band.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Le dernier combat

Luc Besson's debut film is sort of a French Mad Max. Max le Fou? Mad Jean-Paul? It's after the catastrophe, in the ruins of civilisation. Some incident has made people unable to speak. The whole film is told in black and white images.

A young man meets an old man, and they form a father and son relationship. There's a woman, locked up in a cell, and... in this broken world Jean Reno is the violent madman who must break the few things that are not broken. The film is like a dark fable. I think Beckett would have liked it.

Among the actors is also Fritz Wepper. For Americans this name won't mean a thing. But I suppose every European my age must have seen at least one episode of the German television show Derrick where he played Harry Klein.

How 80s is it? 3 out of 10. It takes place in the future, but it gets 3 points just for the annoying score. Early Besson movies like Subway and The Big Blue are almost unwatchable today because of the awful music of Eric Serra.

Next: F/X

The Pogues

Illustration done for a Norwegian music magazine.
It was for a review of The Pogues' Peace & Love.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Colin Friels is Malcolm, a shy loner who is fired from his tramways job. To make money he rents out a room in his house to ex-convict Frank and his girlfriend. Using Malcolm's talent for inventions they pull a heist.

This Australian comedy reminds me a bit of another 80s film, Local Hero. The story is different, but it has some of the same gentle tone. It has a catchy score by Penguin Café Orchestra. The most famous image of the film is the car that splits in two while driving. Malcolm and Frank decide to split it a second time, inviting along Frank's girlfriend. There's one of those magical moments on film when you know some people will pull a prank on someone. You as a viewer know something that person doesn't know. You're in on the prank. The way I remembered it they milked this for a long time, but it actually only lasts a couple of seconds.

How 80s is it? 2/10. It feels more 70s. Where's the INXS endtitles track? It's the women's clothing and hairstyles that give it away.

Next: Le dernier combat


...done for Outland, a comic book store in Oslo.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is that a gun in your pocket...

...or are you just glad to see me?

Drawn in 84, published in Konk magazine.
This was my Serge Clerc/African masks-period.

Kill me again

Joanne Whalley-Kilmer is the femme fatale who asks private detective Val Kilmer to fake her death, to avoid being found by her boyfriend Michael Madsen from whom she stole a suitcase of money.

This is my favourite of the John Dahl neo noirs. The film holds up quite well, I think. I had forgotten some of the twists in the story. Kilmer is maybe a bit too young and babyfaced for the part of the detective. Madsen looks like a grumpy, squinting Elvis. The interiors are shot in a self-consciously noir style, with shadows of venetian blinds on the walls, but that's part of the fun of the genre, so why avoid it?

It's interesting though, how fast the iconography of film noir turned into clichés, used over the years in commercials and parodies, becoming finally the accepted picture of how noir should look. In an early noir like The Maltese Falcon, made in 1941, Mary Astor in the role of the femme fatale seems today just wrong. She doesn't have the Veronica Lake or Lauren Bacall hairstyle a femme fatale is supposed to have.

How 80s is it? Not too much. 2 out of 10? The film was made in 89 so the 80s were almost over and Dahl went for a more timeless look.

Next: Malcolm

Penguin schmenguin

There's a new book out, Penguin 75, a collection of their best covers. They've included the one I did for Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums. For some reason I'm credited as Jason Lambiek. I have no idea how they came up with this as my last name. Its a mystery to Paul Buckley, the editor, as well. One of the dangers of using a one name pseudonym, I suppose. Anyway, it's a very nice book, with a foreword by Chris Ware.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

L'île aux 100 000 morts

Here's a page from my next album. I did the drawings, Fabien Vehlmann wrote the script. As usual, the colours are by Hubert. It will be published by Glenat in March, next year.

The eighties

Ah... best decade ever! Or was it?

I thought I'd take a break in the Audrey Hepburn films and rather rewatch some of my favourite films from this period, starting with The Hidden by Jack Sholder. Michael Nouri is a cop and Kyle MacLachlan is a FBI agent. They're chasing a slimy alien creature that passes from human body to human body and that enjoys driving fast cars and listening to loud, crappy rock music. Sounds like an 80s movie to me.

The opening scene is very effective. A surveillance camera in a bank shows a man killing two guards and stealing a bag of money. As he leaves he notices the camera. He smiles, lifts his shotgun, fires, and the screen goes black. This is followed by a car chase, and the film never slows down, speeding towards the climax.

A funny thing happened while I was watching the film. I paused it to see what was on the tv channels, and the image on the screen changed from a close-up of Michael Nouri to a close-up of Michael Nouri twenty years older, on an episode of Without A Trace. What are the odds? It reminded me of the time, many years ago, when I bought the new copy of Hate and a cassette tape with Dean Martin. When I got home I put on the tape and a bit later started to read the comic. On the tape Dean Martin sings Naughty Lady of Shady Lane and in the comic I read a panel where Buddy is humming Naughty Lady of Shady Lane.

Anyway, it's a fun film and MacLachlan is excellent, but I'm not really able to enjoy it that much. Why? Is it because I've seen it too many times? (3, I think) Has it dated? Or... is it because I'm getting older? Should I be worried?

How 80s is it? 7 out of 10, I'd say. There's the cokesnorting scene and Claudia Christian as a stripper couldn't look more 80s if she tried.

Next: Kill me again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The leaf let go

The leaf let go
-Will you catch me?
It said to the ground

Look, I was a poet!

This page is for obvious reasons previously unpublished.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not always

I was going to watch Always, and I watched 25 minutes before I lost interest. It's, let's say, not Steven Spielberg's best film. So I didn't get to see Audrey Hepburn in her last performance on film, even though I like the idea of her playing God.

Instead I rewatched Roman Holiday. Hepburn plays a young princess in Rome on official business. She's overwhelmed by her responsibilities and escapes in the night. She runs into journalist Gregory Peck who realizes who she is and shows her around Rome, hoping for an exclusive article.

What is there to say about this film? It's pretty much perfect. It's not screwball, but rather a sophisticated comedy. The director, William Wyler, finds humour in small details, like looks between characters. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are great together. Watching the film, it makes Peter O'Toole's performance in How To Steal A Million seem even more stiff. Orginally Cary Grant was first choice, both for this film and Sabrina. For some reason he turned them down. It's a good thing for Roman Holiday, because then we would have missed the pairing of Hepburn and Peck, it's too bad for Sabrina, since I think that would have been an interesting role for Grant, and Humphrey Bogart was too old for the part. But of course, Hepburn and Grant finally met in Charade.

I like that they shot the film on location in Rome. Ten or maybe even five years earlier they would probably have shot it in Hollywood. It wouldn't necessarily have been better or worse, just different, even more of a fantasy. I like the way Venice was portrayed in that old Fred Astaire film. But showing the real Rome contributes so much to this film, photographed in exquisite black and white.

The ending at the press conference where they part, realizing that they live in two different worlds, is very touching. And the close-up of Audrey Hepburn smiling in that scene, how can colour and 3D even compare with that?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You need a light?

The matchbox, one of several, was done as promotion, sometime in the late nineties. Yes, I signed the matchstick. Then hid it in the matchbox. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The cigar case was done as a gift.

(Thanks to Erik Falk for the photos.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Two for the road

Before Inception there was... Two for the road! Taking place on five different time levels, jumping constantly back and forth, the film needs you to pay carefull attention, noticing Audrey Hepburn's hairstyle to realise where in the story you are. I should probably see it a second time.

The concept for the movie is quite original. We follow Hepburn and Albert Finney during ten years of travels through France, from the time they meet until they're an unhappily married couple, not told in chronological order, but rather by association, of sounds, dialogue, images.
Two For The Road goes for a nouvelle vague feel, but keeps at the same time one foot stuck in Hollywood, and for me the film falls a bit between two chairs. Some of the humour doesn't really fit, it doesn't seem as real as it should be next to the darker moments of the story. A more intimate portrayal would maybe have been better.

Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney got great chemistry though. You can believe they're a married couple. Hepburn clearly enjoys taking a few steps away from her established screen persona.

Next: Always

Stripes 2

Another page from an early issue of my Norwegian comic book, Mjau Mjau, published around 97, never collected anywhere.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to steal a million

It's another Audrey Hepburn film taking place in Paris! Hepburn's dad is lending a statue to a museum and she and Peter O'Toole must steal it back before an upcoming technical examination will show that it's a forgery.

Lawrence of Arabia tries to do his best Cary Grant, but has a constant look of What am I doing here? The heist itself is endearingly lowtech. Okay, there are laserbeams around the statue, but no surveillance cameras or motion detectors that must be avoided. The film is a bit slow in the middle, and could maybe have used a surprise or two to turn the story around, but is still harmlessly romantic. Audrey Hepburn is, as always, good, but she is pretty much doing Audrey Hepburn. It's not the acting challenge that Wait Until Dark was.

Next: Two for the road.

Boy meets girl...

Page done sometime in the late nineties, not collected anywhere. It's possible that it was never published, I'm not sure. It doesn't really work that well. Is it clear that the second couple is the girl's parents?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wait until dark

Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman. Through a series of coincidences a doll full of heroin has ended up in her apartment. Bad guy Alan Arkin wants it back. He blackmails two other crooks into helping him.

I remember seeing this film on tv when I was a kid. It's slightly disappointing rewatching it now. The three guys' plan of getting the doll involves a lot of dressing up and coming and going. All the theatrical shenanigans worked probably better in the play the film is based on. In the film it gets a bit silly. The last half hour though is very effective. To be on equal ground with the bad guys she smashes all the lightbulbs in the apartment. Except...

Hepburn is very good in her part, I think, playing more of a real person. Alan Arkin is also excellent, just as he was in The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. Why didn't he have a career like that of Dustin Hoffman? He seemed to disappear in the 70s and 80s. I don't remember seeing him in anything that period, until he played Winona Ryder's dad in Edward Scissorhands and then was in Rocketeer.

Up next: How to steal a million

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Strip never collected. Text:
Panel 1: So what can I do for you?
Panel 2: I'd like a carrot operation.
Panel 3: Let's have a look.
Panel 4: What I'll do is to cut off the carrot here with a rusty breadknife.
Panel 5: Ok!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Charles Bukowski...

...would have been 90 years old today. Cheers, Hank!

I Met A Genius by Charles Bukowski
I met a genius on the train
about 6 years old,
he sat beside me
and as the train
ran down along the coast
we came to the ocean
and then he looked at me
and said,
it's not pretty.

it was the first time I'd

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Audrey Hepburn

So, what was it about Audrey Hepburn and Paris? Did she have it written in her contract that all her movies should be shot there? Sabrina, Love in the Afternoon, Charade. I've never seen Paris When It Sizzles, that she made with William Holden, but I assume it was filmed in Paris. And then Funny Face.

Fred Astaire plays a fashion photographer looking for a fresh model, finding intellectual bookstore clerc Audrey Hepburn, his boss is offering her a contract and they all go to Paris. Complications ensue. There are some problems with the film. Hepburn as a wallflower is a bit hard to believe, and Astaire is really too old for her. He's also lost the sort of goofy charm he had in his early black and white films. Still could dance, though. Hepburn is very cute in her dance numbers. The film could have used some comic relief. Where's Eric Blore when you need him?

Next: Wait Until Dark

Friday, August 13, 2010

A selfportrait....

...done for a newspaper interview sometime in the late 90s. The text on the card says CARTOONIST. This was a time when I didn't earn that much money from doing comics. Of course, now, sitting in a jacuzzi, on the French Riviera, surrounded by supermodels, I can laugh about it.

Edgar Allan Poe

This was supposed to be an adaptation of Poe's The Black Cat, done without words, but I never got any further than this one page.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Michael Caine

At Gibert Joseph here in Montpellier I found a copy of Get Carter for only three euros, a film I hadn't seen before. Even though I like The Italian Job and The Ipcress File. Caine also did this strange, little movie called Pulp that was pretty good. Some thoughts:
I guess I won't be going to Newcastle any day soon. Is there a British Tourism Association? I guess. They can't have been happy about this film. Clouded skies and depressing brickbuildings from beginning to end.

It's easy to rant about modern films and CGI, but at least they can make a person falling off a building look convincing. It seems to often have been the climax in movies from the 70s, the hero punching the bad guy from a roof, and it always looked fake. It's obviously a dummy. You almost wonder, is it the one and same dummy they used in all the falling off the roof-sequences in all the movies in the 70s? I wouldn't be surprised.

Movies from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s (first half, at least) all have a timeless feel. Then came the 70s. Boom! Sideburns and long hair in the back, as long as the eye can see.This movie, the last Connery Bond, the first Moore one. Had they no idea? They thought they actually looked good?

On the other hand: Britt Ekland.

D.V. at the movies

Page done around 96, so far not collected. Text:
Panel 4: -One ticket, please.
Panel 5: -Today is Sunday.

Actually, it probably makes just as much sense untranslated.

Monday, August 9, 2010


...done fresh out of artschool, around 96, for the story of Balder (or Baldur) from Norse mythology. At this time I tried to keep my illustration work separate from my comics. It was also my Dave McKean is God-period.

Anthony Mann

I've been watching two movies by Anthony Mann, Men in War and God's Little Acre, both starring Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray. Mann had a pretty long career, but is maybe best known for his westerns with James Stewart. Ryan did lots of great film noirs, like Crossfire, Odds Against Tomorrow, The Set-Up and was also in The Wild Bunch. I haven't seen anything with Aldo Ray before, only knowing he was an inspiration for the name of Brad Pitt's character in Inglourious Basterds, Aldo Raine.
Men in War takes place in Korea, 1950. We follow lieutenant Robert Ryan and a group of soldiers on their way to take control of some hill. They run into sergeant Aldo Ray, driving a jeep with a shellshocked colonel, all of them sharing the road towards the hill, surrounded by enemies. The film holds up well. It's quite somber and realistic. The story is told more in closeups of the soldiers tired faces than in explosions and action sequences, even though there is a bit of that at the end.
God's Little Acre is something completely different, a sort of Li'l Abner-ish story of a man, Robert Ryan, digging holes all over his farm, looking for gold that his grandfather buried there. The film also stars Buddy Hackett, Michael Landon, as an albino!, and Tina Louise, the definition of Va-va Woom. Unfortunately, the story is less interesting, a mix of melodrama and broad humour.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


...done, Oh my God!, twenty years ago. I tried to get a sketchbook going at the time, but it didn't last long.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cleaning woman!

I feel a bit bad about having criticized Steve Martin, I mean, how much of an asshole does that make me?, so I decided to pop in one of my favourite films of his, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. Martin plays a detective investigating the death of Rachel Ward's dad. It also stars the director, Carl Reiner, and Reni Santoni, "Poppie" on Seinfeld.
The concept of the film is to use clips from old films from the 40s, so Steve Martin is interacting with people like Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster and Ingrid Bergman, from movies like The Killers, Notorious, Sorry Wrong Number and The Lost Weekend. It's cleverly done, with Reiner mimicing the style of those movies and including the rear window projections and the spinning newspapers.
The scene of Steve Martin making "a cup of my java" is a classic, and there are some especially funny scenes where he is putting on women's clothing and a wig, replacing Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity and kissing Fred MacMurray. He's also dressing up as James Cagney's mother in White Heat. It's possible that the film loses a bit of steam in the last part, but it's still very good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Brains 2

In The Man With Two Brains there is a scene where Steve Martin is looking at prostitutes to find a body to transplant his brain girlfriend into. It's a scene I suppose is influenced by a similar scene in The Brain That Wouldn't Die, so I had to go find it among my dvds and make a double feature out of it.

We follow a doctor and his girlfriend driving to his laboratory in the countryside where he is experimenting with transplants of bodyparts. The car goes off the road and his girlfriend is decapitated. He takes the head with him to the laboratory and brings it back to life. Locked in a closet is an experiment gone wrong, a man that has been mutated into a monster. We don't see him, just hear sounds he is making.

The movie is obviously very low budget, but it's the thing that gives the film its charm and dreamlike quality. The girlfriend is played by Virginia Leith, and why she didn't get an Oscar for her performance I don't know. She has the most expressive eyes and the creepiest laughter ever. It becomes clear that she has some sort of mindcontrol over the monster in the closet, creating this strangely powerful scene where she asks the monster questions and he answers by banging on the door.

Meanwhile we see the doctor searching for a new body for his girlfriend. He visits a stripclub where two strippers find him so irresistible that they get into a catfight, the whole point of the scene being for us to see their jiggling breasts. You can sort of imagine the director of the film being a bit turned on by this and going, Sorry, that scene was a bit out of focus, could you do it again, please?

It's a film that is easy to laugh at, but then you would also miss the qualities it has. The biggest mistake is that in the end they show us the monster in the closet, and all the mystery of the film falls apart.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I've been listening lately to cds of Steve Martins standup material from the late 70s. I also enjoyed his book, Born Standing Up, about his career as a stand up comedian and about his troubled relationship to his father.
I came across The Man With Two Brains, one of his early films that I hadn't seen before. The review quote on the cover says it's Steve Martin's funniest film. It's not. He has made several funny ones, like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Trains, Planes and Automobiles. He probably peaked with Roxanne, his funniest film in my mind. The last one of his I saw at a cinema was Father of the Bride, and I haven't seen any of the ones after that.

Steve Martin plays a brainsurgeon who marries golddigger Kathleen Turner and then falls in love with a telepathic brain. There's a couple of funny sightgags in the film: the cat on the operating table and the bunny-ears. There's ONE funny line: I couldn't fuck a gorilla. There's a running joke about his name being Dr Hfuhruhurr. It's not funny the first time and even less funny the seventh time. There are some silly jokes here and there, but they seem almost a bit desperate. I would have liked it better, I think, if they had gone for a darker tone and played it more straight. And of all the shitty synth scores from the 80s, this one must be the shittiest.

I wish I had seen this film when I was 12 years old. That's not really possible since I was 12 in 77 and the film was released in 83, but still. I'm sure I would have loved it then and today would have had nostalgic feelings for it. It's not really a film to see for the first time when you're 44.

Next up: The Brain That Wouldn't Die!