Thursday, December 29, 2011


Is it a real detective story if there isn't a scene where the detective gets the shit kicked out of him?
I think not.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homage / Rip-off

Still haven't seen Tintin. I guess I'll just wait for the dvd. Anyway, here's one of my favourite gags from from The Blue Lotus. Which I then ripped off in my book, Tell Me Something.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Pianist

Adrien Brody is Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish musician trying to survive in Warsaw during World War 2. Directed by Roman Polanski.

It's a tremendously powerful film. It's less sentimental than Schindler's List. I don't think there are any scenes in this film that could have been parodized on Seinfeld. Each time I watch films like this or documentaries about the holocaust, it's hard to wrap your mind around the fact that this happened less than seventy years ago. It's impossible to imagine what Szpilman goes through. I normally like black and white films, but I think colour works best in this story. You are used to images in black and white from WW2, and this film being in colour brings the story closer. The film makes you lose faith in humanity, but at the same time, through Szpilman's survival, makes you believe in the human spirit.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Bruce Willis is a former police negotiator who gets the chance to redeem himself. Also starring Kevin Pollak and Ben Foster, directed by Florent Emilio Siri.

On the list of underestimated Bruce Willis films - it's a pretty short list - I think this one should be somewhere close to the top. There's something strange about this film, and it took me a while to realize what it was: It's a modern action film / police drama, but the camera isn't constantly spinning around for no reason. Sometimes it doesn't move at all! It's directed in a rather classic style by Siri, who also did the terrific French film Nid de Guêpes. It's the visual style that makes it worth watching, rather than the story that's not that much to brag about - they could have worked a bit more on the script. Bruce Willis is solid in his part and Ben Foster makes a convincing psycho. I'm sure he could spend the rest of his career doing those parts if he wants to. There is some violence towards small kids in the film that is a bit unpleasant. Also a pretty neat Sin City-ish title sequence.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fanny and Alexander

It's a bit hard to get much of a christmas feeling in the south of France, so what better than to re-watch Ingemar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, his part Scandinavian melancholia, part magic realism tale of a family in the early part of the previous century and a summing up of the director's oeuvre (Look, Ma, I used the word oeuvre!).

There are some funny differences between Norwegians and Swedes. Swedes like to sing drinking songs, something that Norwegians never do. And they often refer to each other in the third person when talking. Each time I watch this film I tell myself I should check out more of Bergman's earlier black and white films, but they have a reputation of being dark and depressing, so I never do. And where do I start? The Seventh Seal? Everything comes together for this film: The composition of the images, Sven Nykvist's cinematography, all the actors, even the two kids! and the script. A masterpiece, and the extended tv version is even better. Favourite parts: the escape, the puppet, the mummy, the scene with Ismael and Gustav's speach.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Terminator 2

I was going to watch Seven Samurai, but what's with the yelling of all the lines of dialogue? I know it's a classic and everything, but do I need three hours of this? So I stoppet it after ten minutes and rather put on... Terminator 2! Arnold Schwarzenegger is the bad ter... no, wait, he's the good terminator. Directed by James Cameron.

The film came out in 91. It's 20 years old! I've reached the age where it's almost a bit depressing to watch films like this. Where did all the years go? Sigh... Well, anyway... Terminator 1 is a better, leaner film, I think. T2 has some fat in the middle. The part where they go to kill the computer guy drags a bit. Linda Hamilton's voiceover they could have skipped and Edward Furlong is a bit annoying. The CGI stuff is still pretty impressive, but it's also the beginning of the end in a way. It's all going downhill from here on, ending up in wall to wall CGI fests like Van Helsing. The pepsi product placement also ruins it a bit, always showing up in the best scenes, dammit! Cameron knows action, of course, but he's also good with the small details. Love the scene of the T 1000 waving his finger in a no, no sign.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Unbelievable Truth

Adrienne Shelly is a depressed teenager waiting for the end of the world, Robert Burke is a mechanic with a history. Also starring Edie Falco from before The Sopranos, written and directed by Hal Hartley.

Hartley's debut film has the Hartley touch right from the beginning. No establishing shots and quirky dialogues. A small universe where the same people keep bumping into each other. Can you have faith in other people? People are only as good as the deals they make and keep. Hartley namedrops some of his heroes here: Molière and Victor Hugo. I believe the words ozone layer is mentioned in all of Hartley's three first films. It's the ozone layer triology? Why did Adrienne Shelly die so young and Paris Hilton is still alive, that's what I want to know. Hartley is an unfortunate name, because you can't say that Robert Burke is playing the typical Hartleyian hero. Or can you?

The quality of my dvd is pretty bad. The image is too bright. Strangely, some sequences from the film is repeated in the bonus Hartley interview, and there they look much better. Bit of a bummer.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Watching The Detectives

I now got 100 pages begun - they're in various states of being lettered, pencilled, half finished and finished. That leaves around 45-50 pages left. I hope to have the thing finished in May for publication in French next fall and in English in spring, 13.

I like the books of Raymond Chandler and have been wanting to do something within the detective genre. Originally I had thought about doing a story in the US in the fourties, but found it might be better to have some distance, so it's rather set today in France. Also, it's more of a playful take on the genre, it's not completely straight, so maybe something a bit closer to Truffaut's Stolen Kisses. That's what I hope, anyway. We'll see how that turns out when the book is done. And the title? The title is two words, the first word is: Lost

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mission Impossible

Tom Cruise is a secret agent, some people die and things blow up. Directed by Brian De Palma.

There's a new Mission Impossible film on the way. I'll probably go see it. I enjoyed the third one, even if Abrams obviously comes from tv and is used to commercial breaks every ten minutes. There was a lot of action, but not really much tension. For an example of tension, see the CIA sequence in this film. Possibly, kids today will find it slow and boring, but anyway. The second film... Actually, let's not talk about the second film. Let's pretend it never happened. The first film is clearly a "one for them" film for De Palma, it's less personal, but it's a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. The opening scene, though, with the tv image showing something that is a setup is very much De Palma. Apparently Cruise and the producer didn't allow De Palma to do any split screens. Oh, well... Tom Cruise is kind of a selfconfident prick in his role, but he's a moviestar, I'll admit. The helicopter in the tunnel sequence at the end is pretty ridiculous, but when the theme tune kicks in it's hard not to sit there watching with a big grin on your face.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jason + Lewis

Illustration done with monsieur Lewis Trondheim for an interview in M, a Norwegian comic book, from 2007.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Victors

We follow a group of soldiers in Europe during World War 2. Starring George Peppard, George Hamilton, Jeanne Moreau, Melina Mercouri, Peter Fonda, Romy Schneider, Albert Finney and Eli Wallach, directed by Carl Foreman.

I discovered this film by accident late one night on a French tv channel. I had missed most of the film, only getting the last half hour or so, but its bleakness made me want to watch the whole thing. Now, the dvd I have is 146 minutes, and apparently the film originaly was 175 minutes, so that's half an hour missing. A complete version would have been nice, thank you. It's actually a very interesting film, an anti war film in the style of the more famous Paths of Glory, and quite episodic: Characters disappear for a long time, then re-appear, without us knowing what has happened to them in the meantime. There are several memorable moments in the film. It shows an American deserter being executed, white American soldiers beating up black soldiers in a bar, even a soldier shooting a dog! Most memorable is maybe the scene of Wallach in the hospital, his face ruined. I don't understand why this film has fallen through the cracks, being so little known.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alex Schomburg

I love these covers by Alex Schomburg, especially the science fiction one, where the woman has a 1940s hairdo. There's a collection of his illustrations, called The Thrilling Comic Book Cover Art of Alex Schomburg, published by Vanguard.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Half finished page

This is a page from the detective story. For the moment I have a lot of these, where the characters are more or less drawn but the background is still missing. This is usually how I work: the characters first, and then I'll go outside and find a street or whatever is needed and draw that in with pencil and then go back home and ink it. For you aspiring cartoonists out there, this is not a method that is recommended! Rather draw the setting first and then place the characters into that, okay?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hugo Pratt

Top five Hugo Pratt books:
1. La Ballade de la Mer Salée
2. Corto Maltese en Sibérie
3. Les Celtiques
4. Les Ethiopiques
5. Les Scorpions du désert

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Film Noir

Top five film noir
1. Out of the past
2. The Big Combo
3. Kiss Me Deadly
4. The Asphalt Jungle
5. Detour

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Detective story update

Finished pages: 20
Some details left: 15
Half finished: 19
Just begun: 2
Only 100 more to go!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Top five Moebius books:
1. Le Garage Hermétique
2. Le Bandard Fou
3. Arzach
4. Les Yeux du Chat
5. 40 Days Dans le Désert B

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Drawing done for Mike Allred. It should be in his big collection Madman 20th Anniversary Monster, out in January.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Body Heat

William Hurt and Kathleen Turner decide to kill her husband, Richard Crenna. Also starring Mickey Rourke and Ted Danson, written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

A nice little film noir exercise. One thing about the neo noirs from the 80s and 90s is that the person commiting a crime actually can get away with it. He or she doesn't need to be caught and punished like in the classic films. And they can also be seen having sex, like in this film, it's no longer only implied that they do, by swapping cigarettes or slamming doors or whatever. The neo noir director is aware that he is doing a noir, something Wilder was not while doing Double Indemnity. For him it was only a crime film - there were no film noir rules set in stone to follow. Like in that film, the dialogue has an artificial quality. Rourke is the one normal person, the outsider not being a part of the noir universe. He's the voice of reason in the film, asking Hurt not to go through with it. But of course, it wouldn't have been much of a noir film if Hurt had listened.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dune miniseries

I found a used copy of the Dune miniseries, and gave it a look. It manages to make the Lynch version seem like even a bigger masterpiece. What's worse than film CGI? Bad tv CGI! The desert scenes look awful. I know, it's not fair to compare a big budget movie with a tv version made for far less money, but still... I wish they had gone for a no CGI look and given it more of a theatrical feel, that everything clearly is filmed on a stage, like Méliès' silent films. I think that in the end would have been less distracting. The production design is very imaginative, but always less interesting than in the Lynch film. The actors are also less interesting, with a possible exception for William Hurt. I didn't recognize any of the other actors. The accents are all over the place, from Scottish to East European. The cheap look of the series could maybe have been okay if the script was better - they have five hours to tell the story after all - but no, the characters don't feel more developed and the second half, the second disc, really drags. There is no vision, the way the Lynch film, for better or worse, had - it's just bland tv. The one thing that works better is the blue eyes of the fremen, okay, it looks more convincing than in the film.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Defiant Ones

Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are two convicts chained together who manage to escape. Also starring Charles Gravelvoice McGraw, directed by Stanley Kramer.

It's a good film. It's a message film, though, so there's not really any big surprise how it turns out. The characters are not completely credible - you can sort of feel them being moved around to make a point. Still, it's more eloquently done than Racism is bad!-film Crash made 50 years later. Curtis is quite good, almost unrecognizable from his usual prettyboy roles, but it's hard not to imagine what the film would have been like with the first choice for the part, Marlon Brando.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Experiment in Terror

Lee Remick is a bankteller threatened by a man to steal 100 000 dollars from her bank or he will kill her and her sister. Glenn Ford is the FBI agent working on the case. Directed by Blake Edwards.

It's a nice, little thriller, shot in black and white, with a terrific opening scene of Remick in her garage being grabbed by a man whose face we don't see. There's also a creepy scene of the same man dressed up as an old lady. In these films the victim is often not believed by the police. Here the FBI agent believes her just based on a phone call and even sends out a surveillance team! Not sure if that would have happened in a Hitchcock film... and Hitchcock would maybe have given it that extra suspenseful touch at the end. But still, it's quite an effective film from Edwards, showing he could do more than just comedy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One more

Another panel based on an earlier sketch. The main character, the detective, is again a man out of time, a bit like Athos in The Last Musketeer. The story takes place in the present, but he dresses in a fedora and trenchcoat, as if it was in the fourties. And he walks around in a French city, not in LA or San Fransisco.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Using more sketches

Another panel based on a sketch. Now that France is moving over to cable, all the tv antennas will probably be taken down. Which is almost a shame. The rooftops won't be the same without them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Using sketches

One good thing about having done a lot of sketches this summer is that I can use them in my comic, since the story takes place in Montpellier. I used to walk around and take photos, but that is something I try to avoid now. If I need a character walking in a street I just go out and draw the background directly on the original.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dune Avatar

I re-watched Dune the other day. Okay, it's not a perfect film... It's complicated and overserious. Half the time you're sitting there, thinking, what the hell is going on?! The dialogue is stilted; hearing the characters' thoughts doesn't help. The acting is not very good. Or it's as if they're acting in an old silent film. The music is by Toto for chrissake. But I can't help but like the film. It has a unique look, the whole Victorian influenced production design. The worms look great. The opening scene with the mutated navigator is terrific. And then, unfortunately, it falls apart.

I also found a used copy of Avatar and gave it a new look. The first time I saw it was in the cinema, but the 3D glasses gave me a headache, and after the first hour I just sat there waiting for the film to end. The film has the look of a progrock albumcover from 75, that same airbrushed look. Everything is too perfect. What kind of jungle looks like this? And doing everything in the computer, it feels like the director is tempted to put in too many details. It makes me think of the Emperor (?) in Amadeus: There's simply too many notes! Okay, the dinosaurs look good, and the flying dinosaur sequences are impressive, but the aliens, the navi, still look fake. And it's hard not to compare the final fight with the one in Aliens, where Ripley fights the alien queen, which one looks most real and intense?

I watched Dr. Zhivago some time ago. The film is from 1965. If it was made today, almost fifty years later, it would almost certainly not look as good. Then everything was filmed in camera, today there would have been lots of CGI, and sorry, but most of it still looks fake. The simplest thing, like a blue sky and clouds outside a window, looks fake. If Jaws was made today, would it be as good? What's scary about the original one is that we almost never see the shark! Today it would have been there from the beginning. The first and the last Indiana Jones film, which one looks best? Will the new Alien film look half as convincing as the original one?

So, anyway... Dune 1 Avatar 0.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And another panel

The story will be in black and white + red colour pencil.

Brian De Palma

Top five Brian De Palma films:
1. Blow Out
2. Dressed to Kill
3. Carlito's Way
4. The Untouchables
5. Mission Impossible

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another panel...

...from the new story. I got about 50 pages in various states of being sketched, penciled and inked. For the moment it looks like it will be around 150-160 pages. So I guess this will be my first graphic novel. That means I'm a... I'm a... graphic novelist! Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Top five Hitchcock films:
1. North by Northwest
2. Rear Window
3. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 version)
4. Psycho
5. Notorious

Yes, Vertigo is not on the list! I dunno, I just never cared too much about that film...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New artists

One part of growing older is completely losing touch with what is going on in current pop music. I have a vague knowledge of a singer called Lady Gaga, but that's about it. Travis and The Cranberries are new bands for me, and I don't know if they even exist anymore. If I discover new music, it's often by accident. Hearing a tape while sitting in the car of a friend or things like that. So, here's the top five of new artists, meaning artists that have appeared after the year 2000:
1. Iron and Wine
2. Marissa Nadler
3. Jose Gonzales
4. Fleet Foxes
5. Bon Iver

Some comics I've read

Love And Rockets, no. 4 by the Hernandez brothers:
Another great issue, with the continuation and ending of The Love Bunglers, from Jaime Hernandez. It's a real knockout and quite touching for those that have followed the strip and these characters since the eighties. You almost have to remind yourself that, yes, these are characters, not real people! Apparently, nobody told Jaime that the quality of one's work is supposed to go down after working on a strip that long. I look forward to, in twenty years time, reading about a sixty years old Maggie.

Prince Valiant Volume 4, 1943-44 by Hal Foster:
Again, stunning drawings. And quite bloody! Valiant is being tortured, people are killed left and right. There's a strange sequence in the book involving another knight, Tristram, who I don't think has been introduced earlier, that looks like a double of Valiant, but with a mustache! He is killed by a jealous king, but instead of Valiant and Gawain, who are there, seeking vengeance they just ride off. Not quite sure what was going on in Foster's mind there.

Tarzan, The Joe Kubert Years, Volume 3:
I remember the Kubert Tarzan stories from when I was a kid. There were some translations into Norwegian. Kubert was the perfect Tarzan artist, in my mind, his brushstrokes matching the savageness of both Tarzan and the jungle landscape where the stories take place. Still waiting for Volume 1.

Hellboy, The Bride of Hell And Others, The Troll Witch and Others, The Crooked Man And Others:
Usually I find the Hellboy stories not drawn by Mignola less appealing. No matter how good the cartoonists are, it's just not the same. An interesting exception is Richard Corben - his style is almost completely the opposite of Mignola, but somehow it works perfectly for the Hellboy universe. One thing, though: I miss the handlettering by Pat Brosseau from the early books. That handlettering had a lot of character, the square A's and so on, and the computer font from the newer books doesn't fit as well.

Our Little Kat King by Patrick McDonnell:
This is the latest of the yearly Mutts Treasury books. Is Mutts the last good newspaperstrip? It has a Peanuts quality, even if maybe it doesn't reach quite the genius of that strip. It's very inventive in its variations of the recurring setups; the hibernation strips, the singing birds, the squirrel throwing nuts and so on . Sometimes a little too cute-ish, but there are worse crimes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Julie London

Here's some great music for late night inking: Julie London. Cry Me A River, I Left My Heart In San Francisco, all the standards. Only problem is you feel you should almost wear a tie and a suit while listening. Also to have a glass of whiskey and a smoldering cigarette in an ashtray. Drinking and inking is not a good combination, though. Don't drink and ink. And a smoldering cigarette next to a lot of artwork is maybe not a good idea either.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

John Huston

Top five John Huston films:
1. The Asphalt Jungle
2. Fat City
3. The Maltese Falcon
4. The Treasure of Sierra Madre
5. The Dead

Monday, October 31, 2011

Old sketches

I found these sketches, from a story idea I was working on long ago, before Why Are You Doing This?, but that never happened. Maybe some day...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011


A drawing done for Glen David Gold who wrote a very kind blurb for the back cover of Low Moon. It's based on the cover of his novel Carter Beats The Devil.

Frank Miller

Top five Frank Miller books:
1. Batman Year One, with David Mazzucchelli
2. Ronin
3. Daredevil - Born Again, with David Mazzucchelli
4. Elektra Lives Again
5. Dark Knight Returns

Batman Year One is number one. It's still a great comic. The first thing I ever read by Miller was Ronin number 3, and it really blew my mind. I knew nothing about Japanese comics and Lone Wolf and Cub, I thought it was all Frank Miller. It's interesting to see Miller work his way through his idols here, Goseki Kojima, Moebius and Hugo Pratt. It's uneven, but the book has a lot of ambition, something that is missing in the later Sin City books. I was actually a bit disappointed by Dark Knight Returns, since it was a lot less visual and cinematic than Ronin. Elektra Lives Again is also a great book, with very moody colouring by Lynn Varley.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


There's a new interview with me on The Casual Optimist, here: