ART AND TERROR WALKING TOUR-BERLIN

On a recent walking tour of Mitte in Berlin with friend, former student, animator, illustrator and printmaker Michelle Park, other walking tours crossed our path. Starting out in Bezirk Kreuzburg we passed the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Schützenstraße, Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Friedrichstraße, then walked along Niederkirchnerstraße to the old Gestapo and SS Headquarters site.

Michael Hill and Michelle Park walking in Berlin. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

Michael Hill and Michelle Park out walking in Berlin. (Photo-© 2014 Louise Graber)

The Headquarters had taken a direct hit from English bombing during World War II and were demolished after the war. It is now an open-air museum Topography Des Terrors (Topography of Terror) with some remaining rubble, a section of the Berlin Wall(without the barbed wire) plus information placards and a new building with displayed information. The exhibition on show was called Errfast, Verfolgt, Vernichtet (Registered, Persecuted, Annihilated). It was both grim and candid about the horror that had taken place there.

Site of Gestapo Headquarters. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Site of Gestapo Headquarters. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Section of Wall still standing. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Section of the Berlin Wall. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Next door at Martin Gropius Bau museum was the Hans Richter exhibition Begegnungen, Von Dada Bis Heute (Encounters: From Dada to the Present Day) that was part of the Berlin Festival, the David Bowie exhibition from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Evidence. This building had also suffered from the bombing, not as much as the Gestapo site, and had been restored except from some scarification from shrapnel and bullets.

Decorative fascia on column at entrance to Martin Gropius Bau museum. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

Decorative fascia on column at entrance to Martin Gropius Bau, with bullet holes. (Photo-© 2014 Michael Hill)

With both of us interested in animation and printmaking I wanted to show Michelle this wonderful exhibition of the artistic career of Hans Richter who had been born in Berlin in 1888 and was a key figure in 20th Century art and animation. Three sides of Martin Gropius Bau had been allocated so a lot of walking was required to cover the space filled with his woodcuts and paintings, his contributions to Dada including Dada magazine and his own zine G -Material zur elementarun Gestaltung (Material for elementary design), his experiments with painted scrolls that led him to the discovery of displaying images in motion through animation, his abstract animations and live-action films including Dreams That Money Can Buy, and some home movies, plus documentation of his film teaching work in New York. Added to this were works by colleagues Max Ernst, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, Francis Picabia, Viking Eggeling, Alexander Calder and Kurt Schwitters. Richter was a well connected man.

Hans Richter exhibition pamphlet at Martin Gropius Bau.

Hans Richter exhibition pamphlet at Martin Gropius Bau.

DADA: Art And Anti-Art by Hans Richter.

DADA: art and anti-art by Hans Richter.

Hans Richter Linocut for Dada magazine.

RichterCut#2With a life’s work on display there was so much connected visual material in the exhibition that we found ourselves walking back and forth. We could have spent 4 or 5 hours watching the films, videos and documentaries alone. It was an exhibition that called for fresh legs and more than one visit. Good art, big show!

Blauer Mann, 1917, by Hans Richter

Blauer Mann, 1917, by Hans Richter

Visionary self-portrait by Hans Richter.

Visionary self-portrait by Hans Richter.

Stalingrad (Sieg im Osten) scroll painting by Hans Richter.

Stalingrad (Sieg im Osten) (Victory in the East), scroll painting by Hans Richter.

Dada-Kopf (Dada Head) by Hans Richter.

Abstract animation: (L) Diagonal Symphony by Viking Eggeling (R) Rhythmus 21 by Hans Richter. (Click this link to view the Richter film on UbuWeb).

Abstract animation: (L) Diagonal Symphony by Viking Eggeling (R) Rhythmus 21 by Hans Richter. (Click this link to view the Richter film on UbuWeb).

 

COFFEE TABLE fourth fix

There are football (or soccer) comics on the coffee table this month. I’m currently watching matches from the English Premier League, the FA Cup, the German BundesligaSpanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, the Japanese J. League and the local Australian A-League. Last year I saw a really good FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Brisbane between Australia (Socceroos) and Japan (Blue Samurai) and recently I attended a Sydney FC match and witnessed the Italian master Alessandro Del Piero (a.k.a. the little painter) play. Del Piero says he was inspired to play football by the Japanese animation and manga character Captain Tsubasa (see image below). Growing up in Australia with the SBS television broadcaster, the Special Broadcasting Service, I was aware of football’s cultural origins. Due to its coverage of ethnic programs SBS became an amusing acronym in the schoolyard for ‘Soccer Bloody Soccer’ especially for followers of the other football codes such as rugby league, rugby union and Australian rules, and later with it’s screening of adult art films prior to the early morning broadcast of live football matches from Europe, ‘Sex Before Soccer’.

Comic Book Guy red carded for invading the pitch. (Photo and staging by Michael Hill a.k.a. Doctor Comics)

Comic Book Guy red carded for invading the pitch. (Photo and staging by Michael Hill a.k.a. Doctor Comics)

So some of my set of Simpsons soccer figures and Comic Book Guy comics are in play this time. I’m not sure whether Simpsons creator Matt Groening is a football fan or not but following the repertory nature of the show the cast was kitted out to fill a couple of soccer teams with Mr. Burns as the referee. Comic Book Guy seems to be miscast here, invading the playing field and shown the red card by referee Burns for not being a member of either team. There is no sign of the ball, lost perhaps in the long grass. Springfield is not known for its smooth playing surfaces. Perhaps Homer was supposed to mow it but forgot?

Comic Book Guy in his own series plus his enormous cosplay effort on Free Comic Book Day.

Comic Book Guy in his own series plus his enormous cosplay effort on Free Comic Book Day.

The Jack Kirby cover for the first issue of The Fantastic Four.

The Jack Kirby cover for the first issue of The Fantastic Four.

I’m a fan of both the art of comics and the round ball game so it’s fine by me that Comic Book Guy puts in an appearance on the coffee table along with the recent comic book series Death of Comic Book Guy, the first issue cover of which is a pastiche of the Jack Kirby design for The Fantastic Four #1 back in November 1961 with Comic Book Guy trading places with The Thing, Bart with Human Torch, and Homer with Invisible Girl(see above). Oh, did I forget to mention Billy the Fish?

Captain Tsubasa manga

Captain Tsubasa manga: Road To 2002 Vol.10 (2002 FIFA World Cup campaign)

All of the figurines in the set.

All of the figurines in the set.

Springfield's finest-Homer with ball-Simpsons soccer trading card.

Springfield’s finest-Homer with ball-The Simpsons soccer trading card.

Grampa stops the ball in The Simpsons Springfield soccer team trading cards.

Grampa stops the ball in The Simpsons Springfield soccer team trading cards.

UPDATE #1(February 2014): The Simpsons show is currently cartoonising some of the members of English Premier League club Chelsea FC. (L to R in the photo below) are Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech.

Chelsea FC players standing behind their Simpsonised characters.

Chelsea FC players standing behind their Simpsonised characters.

UPDATE #2(June 2014): On a recent visit to Germany I picked up a football comic at a comics convention. (See cover below)

A German football comic reprinted in time for the 2014 World Cup.

A German football comic reprinted in time for the 2014 World Cup.

This post was first published on the Doctor Comictopus blog that has now been merged with this one.

Doctor Comictopus avatar for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

CupofCoffee-1RRead all the coffee table entries imported from Doctor Comictopus blog:  COFFEE TABLE first fix(Day of the Dead/Halloween comics)      COFFEE TABLE fourth fix(Football comics)   COFFEE TABLE eighth fix(Hergé and Tintin)    COFFEE TABLE tenth fix(Shigeru Mizuki)

GIGANTOR AND GOJIRA IN THE HOUSE

I’m happy to now have two three dimensional wall plaques or flat sculptures of Gigantor and Gojira on the kitchen walls of our house: Gigantor the giant, remote controlled, peace-keeping robot, based on the manga Tetsujin 28-go (Iron man No.28) by Mitsuteru Yokoyama and adapted for animation, plus Gojira (Godzilla) star of the famous Japanese movie directed by Ishirō Honda. These plaques are the work of model maker, artist and comics creator Lewis P. Morley and were exhibited just last month at a gallery in Redfern, Sydney. Once installed, Lewis agreed to attended their christening.

Gigantor installed… (Photograph by Louise Graber)

…above the stove in the kitchen. (Photograph and ceramic tile design by Louise Graber)

I have always thought that Gigantor’s body resembled a pot-bellied stove so I decided that it was appropriate he be positioned above the stove. His clunky design with rivets and pistons, prior to those more elegant mobile suit robots, such as Gundam that succeeded him, have some resonance with the metal stove and the various pots and pans on the shelves.

Gojira installed on the Japanese graduated toned wall. (Photograph by Louise Graber)

The whale eating Gojira, on the other hand, coming from the depths of the ocean and memorably seen in the 1954 Godzilla movie wading through Tokyo Bay, had to go over the kitchen sink.

Lewis and his magic silver signing pen signing Gojira. (Photograph by Louise Graber)

Man in the mask. (Photograph and ceramic tile design by Louise Graber)

The position of Lewis’s eye in this photo reminds me of the actors who played the monsters in those Japanese films having to get inside a costume with their eyes are visible through a mesh covered slit in the throat or neck of the character that enabled them to see where they were going.

Christening Gigantor in steampunk style with steam from a boiling kettle. (Photograph and ceramic tile design by Louise Graber)

Christening Gojira with water from a metal jug. (Photograph by Louise Graber)

Job done: the artist poses in front of the installation.  (Photograph and ceramic tile design by Louise Graber)

It was very kind of Lewis to come over, wearing his Gundam T-shirt and perform this ritual. He now has visiting rights. This post was first published on the Doctor Comictopus blog.

Doctor Comictopus avatar for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

UPDATE: GODZILLA GETS RESIDENCY CERTIFICATE IN TOKYO, June 2015

News photo: Godzilla officially welcomed to Shinjuku by the Mayor.

News photo: Godzilla officially welcomed to Shinjuku by the Mayor.

UPDATE: POSTER DESIGNS FOR THE NEW SHIN GODZILLA FILM, April 2017

 

 

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: GETTING SMASH(ed)!

Saturday July 16 2011 was a day of anime amusement at SMASH! (the Sydney Manga and Anime Show). Over the past few years the local interest in manga and anime has grown and grown. Initially ignored by existing comics conventions fans created their own event. Some even began learning to read Japanese so that they could translate the manga. The conventions provided opportunities for fans to meet and enjoy these two media. Some local female creators began making their own versions of shōjo manga as a form of alternative comics and with local content. Interest continued to grow, as did the events. In Sydney there was Animania, in Melbourne, Manifest. And then there was SMASH!

The SMASH! 2011 program.

Located for the first time in its short 5 year history at the Sydney Convention Centre because it outgrew its previous venues from the Rounhouse at the University of New South Wales to the Sydney Town Hall…

The view from inside the Convention Centre. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Welcome from Box Man. (Photo by Louise Graber)

An occasion to dress up, there were costumes that required weeks of sewing, beading, feathering and functioning, paraded throughout the venue and on the cosplay stage…

A tutu moment… (Photo by Michael Hill)

One happy fan. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Many children there in addition to university, high school and primary school students, some with parents…

Three young cosplay fans. (Photo by Michael Hill)

There were Hobby Rooms for the construction and display of dolls and robots…

Some Dolfie dolls. (Photo by Michael Hill)

and tired doll collectors patiently waiting for a seat in the Maid Cafe.

Lolitas with Dolfie. (Photo by Michael Hill)

There were Art and Doodle Rooms for art and doodling… …and an epic two hours plus Cosplay Competition…

A really big and really, really long Cosplay Competition. (Photo by Michael Hill)

…not to mention a Gundam workshop, Karaoke, videogames, a screening of the excellent anime Summer Wars, sewing, pattern and armour making workshops, and a huge trading floor full of vendors, artists and clubs. And it all glowed in the presence of the patronage of the Japan Foundation. Japanese popular culture  thrived on a wonderful day! My report on last year’s event can be found on Forbidden Planet International. This is the third in a series of posts called Archives of Australian Comics History that document moments in the recent history of Australian comics, particularly alternative comics and the Australian Small Press. I started researching this subject in the late 1990s and it eventually led to my PhD thesis: Ph.D. Macquarie University, Division of Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy,  A Study Of Contemporary Australian Alternative Comics 1992-2000 With Particular Reference To The Work Of Naylor, Smith, Danko And Ord, 2003. On completion of the research I donated the materials and comics I had collected to the National Library of Australia: Michael Hill Collection of Australian Comics. Posts in Archives of Australian Comics History:   Comic-Fest   Comics  in Record Shops   Comics Workshops   Down Under Ground   Getting SMASH(ed)!   Imaginary Worlds Symposium    International Exhibition of Drawings   OZCON   Mind Rot   Savage Pencils   Sick Puppy Comix   TiNA Arena   MCA Zine Fair   2002 Sequential Art Studies Conference   2nd Sequential Art Studies Conference

FOOTNOTE: I SAW A BIG SAW AT BIG SIGHT!  As an addendum to this convention report I must mention another I visited in Tokyo. I travelled by monorail to Odaiba Island, an artificial island built in Tokyo Bay to attend the Tokyo Anime Fair at a venue called Tokyo Big Sight (pronounced Biggu Saito in Japanese). Big Sight? I thought that must be a misspelling along Japlish lines for the name of a large exhibition space. Shouldn’t it be called Big Site? However, as it turned out, there were definitely some big sights to behold. No sign of Godzilla but I thought of Thor as the monorail travelled over the Rainbow Bridge past some rather high tech looking buildings such as this one in the photo below of Fuji TV headquarters.

The headquarters of Fuji TV(building designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange) and the Joyopolis Arcade. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The headquarters of Fuji TV(building designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange) and the Joyopolis Arcade. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The headquarters of Fuji TV-detail. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The headquarters of Fuji TV-detail. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Then on arrival at the Big Sight location things started to look a bit unusual. There was an open space beneath a series of inverted pyramids sitting on glass covered, cantilevered legs. This giant entrance had the effect of reducing the scale of the people passing beneath it and thus enhancing the ‘big’ aspect implied in the name of the site.

Tokyo Big Sight-entrance. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Tokyo Big Sight-entrance. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The walk from the monorail station to the entrance of the Big Sight exhibition centre has something of an epic feel to it. It’s there but it’s a long way over there and as one  approaches, and that takes some time, the pyramids appear to grow in size and tower above one, providing something of a shrinking feeling as one nears. It was during this long walk that I happened to look over a railing, because I had drifted to one side of the open walkway, that I caught a glimpse of another large object embedded in the grass on the level below. A sculpture…an art installation…a large saw…unmistakably something by the Pop artist Claes Oldenburg. It was a big sight to see at this big site.

Saw, Sawing by Claes Oldenburg. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Saw, Sawing by Claes Oldenburg. (Photo by Michael Hill)

This BIG SIGHT post was first published on the Doctor Comictopus blog that has now been merged with this Doctor Comics blog.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D. (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

ROCK ART: Magical Cave Drawings Found and Filmed in France

A week or so ago I saw a wonderful film at the Sydney Film Festival called Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary filmed in 3-D made by the German director Werner Herzog, who made  Aguirre, the Wrath of God with music by Popol Vuh.  The film was shot in a cave in the south of France at a place called Chauvet. On the walls of the cave are hundreds of drawings of animals in charcoal and ochre that are between 30,000 and 33,000 years old. These were found in 1994 by Jean-Marie Chauvet whose name has been given to the cave. The drawings are both beautiful and skillfully executed which suggests that there must have been some accomplished artists around 30,000 years ago, artists who sped through their artistic development from crawling to flying status.

A panoramic view of part of a cave wall.

A panoramic view of part of a cave wall.

A small crew of four with only the amount of equipment they could carry, including Herzog who operated the lights, was granted permission to film inside the cave by the French Ministry of Culture. It’s good that happened because the cave is now closed to the public. Despite being restricted to narrow metal pathways laid on the cave floor and short periods of access inside the cave the filming is fabulous. The cave walls aren’t always flat so the 3-D technology takes care of that, displaying the depth of the substrate on which the drawings sit. In some places there are drawings that appear to have been made on top of earlier drawings possibly made many years apart. Due to the uneven surface an curvature of the cave walls these are not 2-D drawings.

A closer view of some of the drawings.

A closer view of some of the drawings.

Herzog captures the eerie magic of the moment when the cave must have been lit by burning torches the flickering of which has the effect of making the drawings appear to move like a primitive animation. This is aided by the fact that some of the drawings have been made on top of each other but not necessarily in registration with the result that a 4 legged animal seems to be 8 legged. Notions of animation, theatre and the birth of cinema come to mind, as Herzog humbly suggests. He interviews several experts and manages to inject a cheeky humour into the subject. And I haven’t even mentioned the albino crocodiles!

This post was first published on the Doctor Comictopus blog.

Doctor Comictopus avatar for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

I LOVE COMICS!

After a period in which I have been guest blogging and micro blogging I am now blogging. I started out with two blogs: Doctor Comics (more serious) and Doctor Comictopus (more fun) but these got merged. This is the first post on the Doctor Comics blog. I love comics and I have read them since childhood. My mother would buy me one when I was home from school in bed…Donald Duck or Dennis The Menace. I knew them by their titles then and only later learned they were the work of Carl Barks or Hank Ketcham. My father read war and western comics and left them lying around so both parents contributed to my love of comics. I still read comics in bed but no longer wait till I’m sick.

The T-shirt design by Max

The T-shirt design by Max

Louise Graber and Doctor Comics at a Halloween Party. (Photo by Kat Smolynec, Painting by Anton Emdin, Feed On Comics T-shirt by Max)

I have been involved in comics studies for several years and have a Ph.D. for my research. That is where the alias comes in. I’m known as Michael Hill, Ph.D. (a.k.a Doctor Comics). I completed the doctorate in 2003 and acquired the alias in 2006 on a talkback show. Aided by the growing resources online it’s a rich time to study comics. Pluralism reigns. There are numerous creators from diverse cultures making good comics in a multitude of styles and formats along with the usual rubbishy material. I am increasingly drawn to the notion of making comics and I’m finally working on my first solo project Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics.

Conventioneer card for the 99 Expo in Maryland with Brian Ralph illo.

The 99 Expo card with Brian Ralph illo

This blog will reflect my interest in reading, researching, critiquing and creating comics art as expressed by Feed On Comics! by Max (photo above) official T-shirt of  ICAF (the International Comic Arts Festival) at Bethesda, Maryland, 1999. The event comprised an academic conference chaired by Gene Kannenberg, Jr., at which I made a presentation on Australian alternative comics, and a convention, the Small Press Expo that honoured alternative comics. There was an award ceremony at which James Kochalka performed and each category winner received a brick just like the one Ignatz threw at Krazy. The event celebrated both the study and creation of comics and so has particular resonance for me and my blog.

The Small Press Expo Comic at ICAF where I also bought the Max T-shirt

The Small Press Expo Comic

 

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D.(a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

UPDATE: The Doctor Comictopus blog, with an alias designed by Michelle Park has been merged with this Doctor Comics blog. Transferred posts include:   GIGANTOR AND GOJIRA IN THE HOUSE     ROCK ART: Magical Cave Drawings Found and Filmed in France     CATS IN COMICS: The Rabbi’s Cat     COFFEE TABLE first fix     COFFEE TABLE fourth fix