Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Some books I've read 55

Stamboul Train by Graham Greene 

So, different people on the Orient Express, spies and stuff. I found it a bit hard to get through this book, taking breaks in the reading that made it even worse, having then trouble remembering the backstory of each character.

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene 

Ah, much simpler! A pretty easy premise and plot to follow. A slightly disappointing ending, possibly.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene 

Pretty good, about a man and a woman having an affair, apparently somewhat autobiographical, but since it's Greene there's a lot about religion and catholicism, that I find it hard to relate to.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

"Please allow me to introduce myself..." Okay! Pretty far out, this novel, about the devil creating havoc in Moscow. Possibly I'm losing some of the meaning. And humor. The usual problem with the Russian names. But absolutely worth reading.

A Ballet of Lepers by Leonard Cohen

A short novel and then short stories by Lenny, mostly from before he moved to Hydra. The novel I liked okay, none of the stories really stand out that much. You can see some of the typical Cohen concerns. Good to have next to Favourite Game on the shelf, but not really essential.

Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino

Q.T. goes deep into 70's cinema, going through his favourite movies and directors. A fun read and a well written book. If he decides to stop after ten films, maybe it's not a tragedy, he can go on writing more books. Do the 80's next, Quentin!

Surrender by Bono 

He's a bit of a rambler and likes to hear the sound of his own voice, Bono. I finished the book, but skipped parts about his activism. Possibly, just reading the wikipedia article about U2 is better. And faster. I still haven't found what I'm looking for - a decent U2 biography. 

Huit heures à Berlin by José-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and Antoine Aubin 

A decent Blake and Mortimer story, now moved into the early sixties, with some influence from The Ipcress File, great ligne claire drawings by Aubin, the best since Ted Benoit, and the writers don't overdo the classic Edgar P. Jacobs thing of having the text describe what we can already see in the images. Only in the climax of the story do they stumble a bit. 

Currently reading:

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies 

Siempre nos quedará Pamplona

Monday, November 28, 2022

Angouleme nomination

Monday, November 21, 2022

Michael Sheen, Jason fan


"I always tend to either push David Boring by Dan Clowes, I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason 
or Essex County by Jeff Lemire as starting points depending on who it is."

Friday, November 18, 2022

Another review

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Some books I've read 54

Future Noir : The making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon 
This is the 96 version of the book, not the latest one that also talks about the sequel. Still, 440 pages, all you ever wanted to know about this classic.

Song Noir: Tom Waits and The Spirit of Los Angeles by Alex Harvey 
A book about Tom Waits' period in LA, living at the Motel Tropicana and hanging out with Rickie Lee Jones and Chuck E Weiss, reading the Beats and Bukowski, how he created the Tom Waits character, became that character and then felt trapped by that character, recording Closing Time up to Heartattack and Wine, and then meeting Kathleen Brennan and changing both his life and his music.

Marvel Comics : The Untold Story by Sean Howe 
A pretty thorough examination of Marvel, the Lee and Kirby story, Jim Shooter, the collector boom and then bust in the 90's and also the Marvel movies. No-one comes off without a scratch, definitely not Stan Lee and even not Kirby, who later claimed it was all him, even the creation of Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man: The Death of Captain Stacy 
The early stories in this collection are pretty weak. You get the feeling that Stan Lee has lost interest. Or is too busy on other books. Roy Thomas takes over the scripting at the end. And is it possible that it's not Ditko or Romita that is the best Spider-Man artist, but Gil Kane?

Amazing Spider-Man: The Goblin's Last Stand 
This is peak Romita and Kane. Some great stories here, including Doc Ock and Kraven, leading up to the death of Gwen Stacy by Green Goblin. Gerry Conway has mostly taken over the scriptwriting at this point, but in the middle of the book there are suddenly three issues by Stan Lee about a politician that turns out to be a bad guy, and it's just pretty weak stuff. Even Romita's art seems a bit half-assed.

Gil Kane's The Amazing Spider-Man: Artisan Edition
I'm not buying the Artist Edition books, they're far too expensive for me, but have a bit of patience and you can find a used Artisan edition for less than 20 pounds. Great art by Kane, of course, and makes me want to find more of his books. I think I only have a couple of the Space Hawks pocketbooks. 

Currently reading:

Stamboul Train by Graham Greene
Strange Things Happen: A Life With The Police, Polo and Pygmies by Stewart Copeland

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Some books I've read 53

Left Bank: Art, Passion and the Rebirth of Paris 1940-1950 by Agnes Poirier 
Great book about the existentialism movement, including all the usual suspects like Sartre, DeBeauvoir and Camus, but also Juliette Greco, Boris Vian and Arthur Koestler.

The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete Uncensored History of the Beat Generation by Bill Morgan Nothing particularly new here, but a pretty good summing up of the Beats. 

Ridley Scott: Interviews by Laurence F. Knapp and Andrea F. Kulas
A collection of Scott interviews from The Duelists to Hannibal.

Themes for Great Cities: A New History of Simple Minds by Graeme Thomson
Can you split the history of Simple Minds in two? Before and after Don't You Forget About Me? Possibly. At least they lost something on the way. Thomson mostly goes through the early albums, including their masterpiece New Gold Dream, up to Once Upon A Time. I must confess I have not listened to any of their later stuff.

See What Can Be Done by Lorrie Moore 
A collection of her essays, written in her unmistakable style. Haven't read the whole thing from front to back yet, rather picking an essay from time to time.

Can You Feel The Silence? : Van Morrison - A New Biography by Clinton Heylin
So, apparently, Van can be kind of an asshole. Who knew.

Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Man No More
Amazing Spider-Man: Man-Wolf at Midnight 
Amazing Spider-Man: The Goblin and the Gangsters 
The plan is to get the complete Ditko Romita Kane Andru run. Four of the Epic collections are out of print or too expensive, so some patience will have to be involved. I think it's more than just nostalgia. These were all great artists, who knew how to tell a story, something that was lost in superhero comics a while. And some of the stories were pretty good as well.

Currently reading: 

David Bowie : A Life by Dylan Jones
In Montparnasse : The Emergence of Surrealism in Paris, from Duchamp to Dali by Sue Roe
Oh, and haven't finished Nightmare Alley

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Batman


Finally saw it. God is it boring. And three fucking hours! Clumsily told and with no tension. Come back, Joel Schumacher, everything's forgiven. Adam West rules!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Early reviews

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The solution


I woke up this morning with the solution to America's problem. 

People married the wrong people. Trump and Hillary, don't they look like a married couple? They do, right? They're the ones that should be married. And at the same time, I never bought Bill and Hillary as a couple. Bill and Melania on the other hand... It's obvious when you think about it.

So, someone take care of this, and no need to thank me.  

Friday, August 12, 2022

Trio lingo

Monday, June 27, 2022

Some books I've read 52

American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Slow beginning, then gets better, but for some reason I found it hard to get into this book. Isn't this supposed to be his masterpiece? Portnoy's Complaint is better!

The Sinner and The Saint: Dostoevsky, a Crime and Its Punishment by Kevin Birmingham
A book about Dostoevsky and the writing of Crime and Punishment, and also about the French murdercase that was an inspiration. Time to reread the novel!

Stephen Spielberg by Jim McBride
An okay biography of Spielberg. I believe there is a more recent edition, but I bought the original paperback from 98, so the book ends with his double triumph of Jurassic Park and Schindler's List.

Apropos of Nothing by Woody Allen
Fairly amusing autobiography from the Woodster. The self deprecating style of writing can grate occasionally. And I believe he's innocent in the molestation accusations, but his descriptions of some of his younger female actresses don't help.

Marvel Visionaries: John Romita Sr.
A nice collection of his comics, including Daredevil, Fantastic Four and, of course, Spider-Man. 

The Mighty Thor: The Invasion of Asgard
The Mighty Thor: The Vengeance of Loki
The Mighty Thor: The Wrath of Odin
The Mighty Thor: To Wake the Mangog
The Amazing Spider-Man: With Great Power...
The Amazing Spider-Man: The Sinister Six

Hmm, seem to be going through a Marvel phase these days. The Marvel Masterworks paperbacks in a slightly smaller format is a good way to finally read these early comics. A lot of this, like most of Kirby, I never read before. Early Thor comics are not that interesting, but then Kirby is given full freedom, and look out! I still find the book hard to read. Stan Lee's Shakespearean thee, thou and so on has not aged well. At some point I just look at the pictures. The Spider-Man stories have a charm that survives the occasional overwriting. He works well as a character, and Ditko's art looks great. Thor on the other hand, is there a more boring character? "Thor says thee Nay!" Okay, pal.

Currently reading:
Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham
Can You Feel The Silence?: Van Morrison by Clinton Heylin

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


Monday, March 14, 2022

Some books I've read 51

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello
A well written autobiography from Costello. I'm no big expert on his music, only having a Greatest Hits cd, but it's still interesting. He seems to have worked with everybody.

Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
An unconventional biography from McKenna, where each chapter is followed by comments and rememberings from Lynch. That are almost impossible to read without hearing his voice in your head. 

Sweet Dreams: The Story of The New Romantics by Dylan Jones
An oral history of British music from 75 to 85, also nightclubs, Blitz, and style magazines like The Face and I-D, up to Live Aid, including Human League, OMD, Ultravox, ABC, Duran Duran, Culture Club, so basically the rise and fall of The New Romantics and synth pop. 

Stoner by John Williams
An amazing novel, and sort of cut to the bone, with descriptions that don't go on forever. 

Doctor Strange: The World Beyond
Early stories from Strange Tales, and a bit repetitive, I must admit, but it's hard not to fall for Ditko's wild art. Looking forward to volume 2.

The Mighty Thor: The Vengeance of Loki
Not quite peak Kirby, but still appealing. Also includes some lesser art by Don Heck. Will move on to the Epic Collection for the rest of this series, I think. 

Fantastic Four: The Micro World of Doctor Doom
Likewise not peak Kirby, but fun comics. Lee could have cut down on some of the text. Will get the later FF stories, either Epic or Essential. Kirby's DC books and the return to Marvel I find less enjoyable.

Marvel Visionaries; Steve Ditko
A nice introduction to Ditko, from Tales to Astonish to Speedball. Great Spider-Man and Dr Strange stories. Will get his whole Spider-Man work in the Epic books, when they are reprinted. 

If I had to choose between Ditko and Kirby, if someone put a gun to my head, I think it would be... Ditko. 

RIP, William Hurt

Friday, March 4, 2022

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Painted Moon

Some books I've read 50

George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones
Ah, the enigma of George Lucas. Who is he? What does he want? Still doing small, experimental movies after he sold Lucas Film to Disney? Some answers are given. His three first films are pretty good. Return of the Jedi... ugh! Those teddy bears! And the prequels...

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino
I almost gave up ten pages in. He's not a good novelist, the writing is clumsy. And goes on for too long often. Wanna know what Cliff Booth's favourite movies are? Well, you get them here. But then you become used to the style, and it almost gets enjoyable. But he could have cut 100 pages or so. 

Pastoralia by George Saunders   
Is the guy a one trick pony? Doing two or three different voices and then letting the reader read between the lines. It's quite effective, and can be found in the last story, The Falls, but it's very reminiscent of  Tenth of December. Which came later. So maybe this was a warm-up. 

What's it all about? by Michael Caine 
His first autobiography. Some nice anecdotes, but ones he's often repeated on talkshows. And the book has that oral quality. Quite superficial about each film. And lots of namedropping! Lunches with royalties and so on. Best part is maybe the first 150 pages on his early years of struggle.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke 
It's okay, I guess. Not quite sure why this is a classic. Quite dry with paperthin characters. And an anti-climactic ending.

Copra Round Six by Michel Fiffe
Still have some problems getting into the story or care about the characters. But the art is amazing. 
The Art of Robert E. McGinnis
I've pretty much stopped buying this sort of art books. You look through them once and then put them on a shelf never to look at again. And weighing a ton when you move. But I found a cheap, used version of this book and fell for the temptation. There are pulp illustrations, James Bond , longlegged girls! and Westerns, but also some nice landscapes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Review / critique

Friday, January 14, 2022


My new book, Au-dessus l'odyssée, will be out in a week in France. My editor at Atrabile, Daniel Pellegrino, did an interview with me, to find out inspirations for the book. Voilà!

So, Au-dessus l’odyssée is probably your craziest, weirdest book to date! Was there a « leading idea » between all those stories? What drove you to do this book? 

I don't know! Covid? I suddenly had lots of ideas, and just had to sit down and draw them. It was all done between December 2020 and June 2021. It's a mix of all sorts of ideas. And at some point I just gave up trying to keep a single theme or tone. There are pastiches and parodies. There's a meeting of high culture and low culture. There's Dostoyevsky and also Spock from Star Trek. I've done similar things before, but this time there is more of it, and it's collected in one book.

Femme, homme, oiseau begins like a simple « date » story but then the dialogues goes really surrealistic, with a lot of visual references ? 

I had this idea in my head a long time, of the bird character from Shhh!, where he puts on another hat, and that makes it possible for him to speak. So, he goes on a date with a female bird character, but there is no connection, they talk past each other. And I show that with partly the text being surreal, partly by them being replaced by other characters, some from pop culture. It was an interesting experiment, I think, to work more with the text, and I hope that it still works as a story. 

Then we have Perec, détective privé, where things goes missing: a character, and then the text. (A « caractère » in French can mean a letter). Perec as Philipp Marlowe?

I used George Perec first in a story I did about Leonard Cohen. I can draw Perec as an animal character, and it's still possible to se who he's supposed to be. I think originally it was supposed to be Bukowski as the detective, but I ended up using Perec and have the story take place in France. And in the 70's. It was fun to draw people with bellbottoms . The story is influenced by something Julio Cortazar did in a story, where he only showed the first half of a sentence, and then it's up to the reader to guess what happens in the second half. 

After that we have your own version of Perec’s Je me souviens but by the end it goes elsewhere (without spoiling it).

Yes, I enjoy a lot of his work, including Je me souviens. And Perec was not the first to do it. He got the idea from an American writer. There is also a Norwegian writer I like, Ragnar Hovland, that did his version. So, I felt I could do another version, to be one in a line of other people. But yes, there is a twist in the story. 

Vampyros Dyslexicos refers to Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos, a cult Spanish Z movie from 1971. But your vampire is dyslexic ?

I don't think I've ever seen that film, but yes, the title of my story comes from there. The lesbian vampire film is its own genre. I only know some of the British Hammer films, especially The Vampire Lovers, with Ingrid Pitt as the vampire. The story is basically the same in my comic. It's based on an old novella called Carmilla. In the film, Ingrid Pitt uses the name Mircalla as a cover name. I thought it was funny to imply that she was not only a lesbian vampire, she was also a dyslexic vampire.

Sceau VII is a sort of parody of Ingmar Bergman’s Le Septième Sceau. You don’t think Bergman is funny?

He's not the funniest director. He's made lots of dark movies, that actually, maybe, could use some jokes. He did one movie, All These Women, that tried to be a comedy, but is not that funny. I still haven't seen all of The Seventh Seal, only parts of it. The chess scene is of course famous. It has the character of Death. Which I find to be almost a Jason character! I felt I could use him, and do my version of that scene. To hopefully be a bit funny.

Le Prisonnier dans le Château is a « mashup » between the cult tv show Le Prisonnier from the 60’s and Kafka. Are you a « fan » of both?

I still havent read any Kafka. I got his Collected Novels and Collected Short Stories on my shelf. So I'm sort of guessing what The Castle is about. I had seen some episodes of The Prisoner before. I got the collected series on dvd last year, and watched the whole thing. It's pretty good. Very 60's. I wanted to do a story based on that. There are surreal elements there. It's almost kafkaesque. So the idea came quite naturally, to combine those two elements.

Crime et châtiment in less than 20 pages! And told as some kind of documentary, with the characters facing the « spectator »!

Yes, the idea is basically Crime and Punishment as a true crime documentary. I saw one or two of those on youtube, just to get a feeling of the structure. The use of interviews on camera and then re-enactment of important scenes with actors. I had read the novel many years ago. It's a big novel. So Instead of re-reading it, I just found a resumé on the net. And I also watched the Russian film version from the 70's. It's about 3 hours, in black and white, with subtitles. But it's really good. And it's on youtube.

There are a lot of things in Ulysse: you are at the same time « deconstructing » a kind of typical thriller story but you also have James Joyce, a Leprechaun, and then, a character from a Tarantino movie (I assume)?

Yes, the idea is Ulysses as a stupid American action film. Where they use only a couple of elements from the novel. And again, I haven't read the whole thing. I got to around page 50. I still plan to read the rest of the book. So this story is also based on a resumé. There is a leprechaun, yes, because that's a cliché about Ireland. Something an American filmwriter would know about. And also a female killer, Mai Lass. Who is maybe sort of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill. She has an eyepatch, like Elle in Kill Bill, but Tarantino took that from another film, a Swedish film called Thriller. That I've never seen. There's also Snake Plissken, of course. It's just a great look for a character.

I’m not that familier with Ionesco. Was he a banana fanatic?

No, not at all. I don't think so. I like his writing, especially The Bald Primadonna. I wanted to do something in that style. So the story is sort of a documentary about him, after his death. There's some biographical information, where he was born and so on, and then interviews with people who knew him. But If you make a biography about Ionesco, it has to be surreal! So one person says he once saw Ionesco eat a banana, and then the rest goes from there.

Giallo is a typical Italian kind of murder movie. Why did you decide to narrate your Giallo as a poem?

I had a period where I saw a lot of giallos. There are certain elements that are repeated in all those films. A killer with black gloves and so on. So I wanted to do a pastiche of that. But at the same time bring in something else. So I decided to do it in the style of Edward Gorey, in rhyme. Like his book where all the kids die. And that made the whole thing more fun. 

In Contretemps dans la ville lumière  you have Spock dressed as the Japanese painter Fujita. Do you think they look alike? Is is because of the first name Leonard?

No, it was because of their hairstyle. Both of them had that bowl cut or whatever it's called.  I was never a Star Trek guy. But I got the original series on dvd, and watched it last year. And it's quite fun. The low budget gives it a charm. Almost all the planets they go to look like Earth. And it has the famous time travel episode, The City on the Edge of Forever. I wanted to do something with those characters, and then using Leonard Fujita, it gave me the idea that Spock goes back in time to Paris in the 20s. Which I've already used in other stories. It was just an interesting period.

Qui viendra à bout de l’araignée reads as a very weird Dr Seuss story – he is really famous in America, probably not as much in the French world. Did you read his books as a kid in Norway?

No, I haven't read anything by him. I don't remember what books I read as a kid. I think we had Three Robbers by Ungerer. But I wanted to do sort of a childrens book story. Which then maybe goes in another direction. And I've seen some images from Dr Seuss, like The Cat in The  Hat. And I like that limited use of colours in that book, which gives it an oldtimey, vintage feel. Crictor by Ungerer was another inspiration. 

Un million et un ans avant J.-C. Is a dinosaur story and a time travel story.

I wanted to do a story without text. And using cavemen that don't talk was one of the ideas I had. It's pretty much inspired by One Million Years B.C. Unfortunaely without a Raquel Welch character, but still... The idea of people and dinosaurs living at the same time. And then there is also a story by Ray Bradbury, about hunters travelling back in time to hunt dinosaurs. Which is just a bad idea. Don't do that.

Would you say the following two stories are an hommage to the E.C. comics (and Bradbury?).

Yes, E.C. comics, both the horror stories and the science fiction stories. You have the Bradbury stories of astronauts going to Mars. But there were a lot of those stories. Always with a twist ending. And of course, Wally Wood was an inspiration. His spacesuits and rocketships. I can enjoy those stories, just looking at the artwork. It's too bad they're so overwritten, with the text often saying what you already can see in the images. But that was the style of that time.

From Outer Space is another great mix of two different genres: the images are your version of the famous Ed Wood movie Plan 9 From Outer Space but the text reads more as a kind of autobiography-comics?

Yes, it's an autobiographical story. My one drug experience. That was not too pleasant. I had thought about maybe doing a comic about it, but it needed something more. And then I thought about using images from Plan 9 From Outer Space. And actually, I almost for every panel found some image that fit with the text. I never had any visions or anything from taking LSD. But the film is so surreal, that it actually has that drug trip feel. So it fit, I think.

Then the books ends with a serie of one or two-pagers. There you got to cast about everybody from Elvis to Moses, Alan Delon, Van Gogh, the Werewolf, David Bowie, Athos (who seems to be one of your favorite) and a lot more. Did you had to cast out some characters?

Yes, I like Athos a lot. It's possibly my favourite character of those I have created. He just appeared in my book about Ernest Hemingway, and I want to use him in more stories. There was one more two page story, that I never finished. It also took place in London in the 70's, like the David Bowie strip. Athos meets Michael Palin and Terry Jones from Monty Python in a bar and strike up a conversation. But it didn't quite work. Maybe some other time.