Thursday, 30 July 2009

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Phantom horse

Summer’s promise, summer’s threat

Summer in Galway, postcards, and music by John Dog, particularly Waking Dream, Summer’s Promise, and Imperfect Strangers. The sound of days when time passed slowly.

Waking Dream:

Summer’s Promise:

Imperfect Strangers:

Added, one more for Ray: the Estoria Cinema, Galway, later called the Claddagh Palace, and now gone altogether. From Palace of Dreams, a short documentary by Hawkeye Films. (I’ve not seen it.)

Monday, 27 July 2009

Where will it end?

I’m back to working on Charlie Bone. This is an interior illustration for the French edition of book four.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Heron and the Crab

A tale of tyranny, in English here from Persian Fables by HG Keene. (Also here from p. 53 on.) This story originally comes from the Sanskrit Panchatantra.

The illustration above is for a version of the story included in a Persian manuscript of Kalila and Dimna , from Herat (now Afghanistan) in the first decade of the 15th century. The manuscript is in the Gulistan Library, Tehran. This reproduction comes from Persian Miniatures, Werner Forman, Vera Kubíčková, trans. R. Finlayson-Samsour, Spring Books, London.

Global Day of Action in solidarity with the people of Iran, Saturday July 25.

With the support of Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and many more. Details at


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Secrets of line and colour

Above: art by the recently deceased Heinz Edelmann, best known as the designer of the hyperchromatic animated film Yellow Submarine. Here however he appears reduced to black line, which proves no hardship in the hands of a clever craftsman.

Below: before his passing he left a clue in the hands of fellow practitioner Mr Grillo, and so at last I can see what it is that I’ve been doing wrong all these years. How obvious!

Copyright © the estate of Heinz Edelmann

ADDED: Stephen Kroninger has some Yellow Submarine comics stashed away.
ALSO: Hans Bacher has some beautiful development art for Yellow Submarine by Mr Edelmann.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Happy Danes

This analysis of why Danes are so happy is nonsense, I’m afraid. (Via Norm.) Not a single mention of beer in the whole piece, to say nothing of all that goes with beer.

Below, clips from Martha by Erik Balling and Henning Bahs, 1967.

Related: a Danish blues song, no beer in the fridge.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Friday in Tehran

Updates on events today from The Guardian, The New York TimesNico Pitney, Tehran Bureau, PedestrianAzarmehr, Juan Cole, and Raye Man Kojast.

Above: Green 6, by Parastou Forouhar, from RED is my name, GREEN is my name, a set of digital drawings, 2008. This is one of a series of artworks, the subject of which is the murder of the artist’s parents, Dariush and Parwaneh Forouhar, Iranian opposition politicians, in 1998.

More on the murders from the archive of The New York Times. Found via Belog, a blog on contemporary Iranian culture.

Image copyright © Parastou Forouhar.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Some frightful war pictures

by W. Heath Robinson, at Golden Age Comic Book Stories. Originally published in 1915.

A Swiss shepherd watching a Battle on the Frontier.

The German Periscoper: “Ach, Himmel! Dot most be der peautiful Ben Nevis of vitch ve ’ave ’eard so mooch!”

More here.

Talking about Israel makes you stupid

Okay, I accept that an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians won’t solve all the problems of the Middle East, much less the rest of the world, but we do desperately need a solution, and here’s why: it makes people stupid!

Talking about Israel makes a lot of people stupid, and the more they talk about it the stupider they get. We risk a large proportion of the world’s population being reduced to gibbering idiots if something isn’t done soon.

Take this latest example, this outpouring of numbskullness over a mobile phone ad. Read the comments! No, stop reading the comments. For crying out loud, stop! And don’t add to the comments. Please.

It’s an Israeli TV ad. It features the security wall. An Israeli army patrol. A football comes over the wall, and hits their vehicle. They scatter, ready for trouble. But it’s just a football. They kick it back over the wall. An unseen person over the wall kicks it back again to the soldiers. To and fro. Happy laughter and cheers. What does it mean?

If you’re someone who has been adversely affected by talking too long about Israel you may see it as a piece of right-wing propaganda in favour of the wall.

If you’re someone who has been paying attention to events in Iran recently, perhaps you may already have processed the idea that human communication via new technology can cross political barriers, can connect populations while bypassing hostile leaders, can increase the chances of peace.

Alright, read just one more comment, over here:
Some have taken offense because you don’t see them [the Palestinians] at all. And in daily life it’s true – we hardly ever “see” WB Palestinians. The enforced segregation, occasioned by security concerns, prevents us from interacting on a regular basis with WB Palestinians. But in this video, the interaction was initiated by the Palestinians on the other side. The Israelis at first reacted with alarm but then the Palestinians kicked the ball back, forcing the Israelis to acknowledge them. The ball flying over the fence wasn’t an accident. It was a challenge! And rather than ignore it and continue with their patrol, the soldiers decided to interact with the other side in a way far more pleasant than what they are used to. So sure the interaction happened with a wall in between them, and they never saw each other but, well, baby steps right? It showed the possibility of non-violent interaction. Yoffi toffi achla bachla!

That hardly constitutes a defense of “right wing” politics. Sheesh.
Oh, and just in case you get the wrong idea on where I’m coming from on this whole stupid thing, anti-Israel stupidity is not the only variety of stupid on this issue, so just keep those stupid comments to yourself.

Related, reading Michael Totten in Armenia, and one linked to earlier, Iranian connectivity.

 . . .

Aaagh, I can feel the stupidity taking hold! Nnnng, I may even be going stupid enough to write more on this later . . .

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

As a cartoonist, you must be nuts to work in Iran

Election drawings by Mana Neyestani at Radio Zamaneh, via Free Lantern. There’s older work by him at ECC Cartoonbooks Club.

Michael Cavna of The Washington Post interviews exiled Iranian cartoonist Nikahang Kowsar, via Journalista. A snippet:
MC: Just how many charges did you face over the years in Iran?
NK: I faced 197 charges over several years for "undermining national security" because I was responsible for a big protest. Right now, probably about 10 of them are still active.
MC: Given these conditions, what motivates you to be a cartoonist? Is it political conviction, or bravery, or national interest? In other words: Why take on the risk?
NK: First of all, as a cartoonist, you must be nuts to work in Iran. I think I was.
This article by Michael Cavna draws on the same interview but looks a little more widely at Iranian cartooning. 


On Iran and the Left, and other matters, more via Bob from Brockley and Terry Glavin.

Much more on current events in Iran from  Nico Pitney.

Background: Iran and Britain, a BBC documentary first broadcast in February 2009. On YouTube, clips one, two, three, four, five and six.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Go now

On today’s protests in Iran:
The New York Times News Blog, and Nico Pitney (via Martin). More too at Raye Man Kojast and Azarmehr, who also reports on the London solidarity protest. Added: Francis has photos from London.

The wider picture:
Tony Badran on Iran, Hezbollah, Velayat-e Faqih, and Lebanon, with more here. And on the Iranian regime’s actions in Afghanistan, Terry Glavin here and here. Also The Canada-Afghanistan Blog here.

Another Iran:

Naughty, naughty

Setting off an atomic bomb, that’s a bad thing to do. Which is why Irish lawmakers last year proposed a fine of 5,000 euros for any miscreant so doing. There are worse things, however. Five times worse. Such as being rude about religion. Step out of line on that one, and you’re now liable to pay 25,000 euros! What are you complaining about? The original proposal was a fine of 100,000 euros for blasphemy. Just be thankful they can’t bring in stoning.

SEANAD REPORT: DAVID NORRIS (Ind) said he was astonished that the Minister for Justice told the Dáil that legislation to criminalise blasphemy had been drawn up to make it virtually impossible to get a successful prosecution out of it. That was a very peculiar way to be drafting law.

“It is a complete farce, a nonsense and an insult to the intelligence of the Irish people.”

Mr Norris said he could not give a definition of blasphemy, but he could provide a description of it. “It’s one that we all heard and that was printed in The Irish Times . . . when that remarkable man, Mr O’Brien, a former Fianna Fáil mayor of Clonmel, said: ‘They raped me, they buggered me, they beat the sh**e out of me and the next day put the host in my mouth.’ That shows the most extraordinary disregard for God and man. That’s blasphemy! The laws were there, but they did nothing to save that unfortunate child. Let’s not have a pretence, let’s not have a farce; let’s have real and properly drafted legislation and forget all this nonsense about blasphemy.”

(Yes, I’ve posted the above image before.)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Iran: 9th July protests

In London, Washington, and Iran, Thursday 9th July.

Domino hippos

What was I thinking? I have no idea. One of a pile of designs for a stage production of Dr Dolittle in London, 1998. More here.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Imprisonment, torture, death, and life.

Images from Palle Nielsen’s graphic adaptation of Orpheus and Eurydice. More on the artist at the end of the post.

18. Eurydice!

19. Machine-gun

20. No farther

21. Police officers of the Underworld

From the New York Times, Friday 3rd, Marjane Satrapi writes that to die in Iran is not enough, she must live again in Iran.

The NY Times on Saturday 4th: Top Reformers Admitted Plot, Iran Declares, a story of torture and forced confessions in Iranian prisons. Also, Clerical Leaders Defy Ayatollah on Iran Election.

Following on from that, Christopher Hitchens on the connectivity between Shi’ite dissent in Iran and Shi’ite clerics in Iraq. Related from earlier, Reject the rule of the dead, on Iraqi cleric and parliamentarian Iyad Jamal Al-Din.

Harry’s Place on the regime’s lies about Dr Arash Hejazi, witness to the murder of Neda Aga-Soltan. See also The Poor Mouth.

Azarmehr on those ever more ludicrous lies, and on the regime’s paid liars in the UK. More on Press TV from Harry’s Place, and they pass on the word, Prosecute the Traitors Working for Propaganda TV

Reporters without Borders on the detention and abuse of reporters in Iran, with updates here. Newsweek on detained journalist Maziar Bahari.

The Guardian attempts an accounting of the dead and the imprisoned.

Via DSTPFWOn the streets of Tehran.

Reza Aslan: Strike. Via Raye Man Kojast.

Norman Geras: Wanting the support of others.

Background: On Radio 4, a repeat of the three part series, Iran a Revolutionary State, first broadcast in 2006 as part of Uncovering Iran. Also on Radio 4, In Our Time on the Sunni-Shia split.

All my Iran posts here.

Palle Nielsen (1920-2000) was a Danish artist who worked mainly in printmaking and drawing, usually in series, often with a loose narrative. His pictures were overwhelmingly of cities, and often of war, with a focus on civilians caught in the midst of urban warfare.

As a young man, Palle Nielsen worked in advertising and illustration before achieving success as a gallery artist. He was strongly influenced by the picture novels of Frans Masareel. Much of his work was consciously political. For me there are occasions where his message grates, but more often I find the strength of his art overwhelming.

His Orpheus and Eurydice (Orfeus og Eurydike) is a series of linocuts, 53 in part one, published as a book in 1959 by Hans Reitzel, Copenhagen. A second volume titled ISOLA an interlude (ISOLA et mellemspil), from 1970, continued the narrative in 42 further prints. A third part was never completed.

Images copyright © the estate of Palle Nielsen.

A familiar script

According to BBC News, “China's response to Sunday's violence has been to accuse foreign forces of fomenting the unrest.”

For background on Xinjiang, see Mick Hartley’s post from last month, linked to earlier in my roundup below.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Not Iran

It’s hard to keep your eyes pointing in all directions at once . . .

Iraq, and Thoughts on Intervention, by Roland Dodds. Added: Ibn Muqawama on Joe Biden, Iraq envoy.
Sietske in Beirut writes on conversations she has. Not many dead, according to the papers.

Via Mick Hartley, Riots in China. Mick has also paid particular attention to the Uighurs being released from Guantanamo, fleshing out their tale with information on ongoing repression of Uighurs by the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang. Since his last round up on the story, The New York Times has published a report on the Uighurs settled in Bermuda.  

Georgia’s Hard Slog to Democracy by Michael Cecire, at Michael Totten’s blog. Related at the NY times, Russia’s Neighbors Resist Wooing and Bullying.

Also from Michael Totten, A Conversation with Robert D Kaplan. This does include discussion of Iran, along with China’s involvement in Sri Lanka, Russia and its neighbours, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However I’d like to highlight an exchange at the end regarding Israel’s failure in counterinsurgency, material relevant to the essay topic set in an earlier post here.
Kaplan: You know what’s interesting? The Israelis. They’ve been great at defeating structured Arab armies, but they haven’t figured out how to deal with a few thousand insurgents in South Lebanon or in Gaza. What did their wars in 2006 and 2009 in Lebanon and Gaza get them?

MJT: It got them fewer rockets for a while, but it’s temporary.

Kaplan: Yeah.

MJT: I don’t know what they should do. They can’t put a David Petraeus in Gaza or Lebanon. It won’t work.

Kaplan: No.

MJT: And they can’t fight a counterinsurgency from the air because that’s just absurd.

Kaplan: Yeah. They haven’t been able to solve this problem at all.

MJT: I’m glad it isn’t up to me what Israel should do. There aren’t any good options. Maybe they should hold Syria accountable. Syria is at least a state with a return address and national interests. I don’t think the Syrian government is particularly ideological. It isn’t like the Iranian government. Syria isn’t an ideology, it’s a state.

Kaplan: It wants to survive.

MJT: Maybe the Israelis should lean on Assad. They can’t lean on Hamas or Hezbollah. They can’t lean on Beirut because Beirut is too weak to do much.

Kaplan: Yeah. I mean, the idea of bombing highway overpasses near Beirut to punish Lebanon for Hezbollah is ridiculous.

Kaplan and Totten point to Israel’s failure to develop of a true counterinsurgency campaign, but positive suggestions are still lacking. Tackling the Syrian regime may be relevant, but does not address the absence of a population-centric strategy. Any takers? 

Update: Vigilant as I try to be, one direction I didn’t think to look was down.


Gumby crosses the Delaware

Read you loud and clear, come in Pokey, over.

Gumby, come here quick! There’s a beat-up looking beatnik here pestering me for free food.

I can’t seem to make this pony understand that I need food badly -

- not only for me but for my buddies at Valley Forge.

This fellow is no beatnik, he’s one of General George Washington’s soldiers!

Yes, to understand what really happened at Trenton, you have to see Gumby crosses the Delaware by Art Clokey. It can be found on Gumby Essentials Vol 1.

Gosh, General sir, if I hadn’t read my American history, I’d be afraid to cross the Delaware River with you tonight!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Beetles and Gershwin

Above: the perfect art of Harrison Cady, at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

For more six-legged larks may I recommend a visit to The Insect Circus.

Moving away from the insect theme, here is more musical theatre, this time from choreographer Pina Bausch who died on tuesday.
(Thanks S.)