I think Hergé is the best comics artist of the 20th century. In my opinion he’s better than America’s big comics artists like Charles Shulz, George Herriman, Robert Crumb, etc. I mean, there are many brilliant comics artists out there that I all admire, but if I’m really honest with myself, I’ll take Tintin with me to a deserted island. But Hergé did make “Tintin in the Congo”, which is really a problematic book. I do not think it’s a good book for children, it’s a book that grown-ups should read, or teachers should discuss in class with children. It’s outright racist, there is no doubt about that. To “forgive” the book as a relic of the time, is too easy for me. But I do not believe in censorship - it should absolutely be available, just maybe not to children. Maybe they should put an age restriction on the book as they do with some music?
The bad news is that Pete Seeger’s dead. The good news is that there’s going to be one spectacular hootenanny going on in heaven when Guthrie and Lead Belly reunite with their bro Pete Seeger.
He sort of became this kindly grandfather figure of Sixties feel-good nonviolence in popular culture, but Pete Seeger was a threat. He always declared himself a communist with a lower-case “c.” He was this sort of gentle grandfather with a backbone of steel who was going to put a chokehold on the powers that be until they relented. That guy was no joke. He was a hardcore badass when he stood up to House Un-American Activities Committee, saying, “How dare you question my Americanism because I play music for people whose politics are different than yours?” Yet he played lovely, gentle songs at countless pre-schools for toddlers. He was a unique, spectacular combination of things I doubt we’ll ever see again.
In 2011, around midnight, Pete led a non-police sanctioned Occupy Wall Street march for two miles across Manhattan. You couldn’t hold him down if he was walking with two canes! Pete never lost the fire, and wherever there were voices raised, however few or many, Pete was always willing to lend his voice, his banjo, and his spirit to the struggle for a more just planet.
PETER DREIER’s in-depth article traces the life and legacy of the iconic folk singer and activist
Seeger brought the world closer together with his music. Every day, every minute, someone in the world is singing a Pete Seeger song. For over six decades, he introduced Americans to songs from other cultures, like “Wimoweh” (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) from South Africa, “Tzena, Tzena” from Israel (which reached number two on the pop charts) and “Guantanamera” from Cuba, inspiring what is now called “world music.” The songs he has written, including the antiwar tunes, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and those he has popularized, including “This Land Is Your Land” and “We Shall Overcome,” have been recorded by hundreds of artists in many languages and have become global anthems for people fighting for freedom. His songs are sung by people in cities and villages around the world, promoting the basic idea that the hopes that unite us are greater than the fears that divide us.
Seeger was a much-acclaimed and innovative guitarist and banjoist, a globe-trotting song collector, and the author of many songbooks and musical how-to manuals. In addition to being a World War II veteran, he was on the front lines of every key progressive crusade during his lifetime—labor unions and migrant workers in the 1930s and 1940s, the banning of nuclear weapons and opposition to the Cold War in the 1950s, civil rights and the anti–Vietnam War movement in the 1960s, environmental responsibility and opposition to South African apartheid in the 1970s, and, always, human rights throughout the world.
One of Pete Seeger’s greatest achievements was incorporating political activism into music, and realising that liberation struggles need a soundtrack, writes DORIAN LYNSKEY
Pete Seeger was a good man. There aren’t many musicians you can say that about without seeming simplistic. Music is often progressed by flawed, volatile, glamorous egotists, and thank God for them. But Seeger carved out his place in history with a quieter, rarer set of qualities: nobility, generosity, humility and, when things got rough, breathtaking courage. Perhaps uniquely, he became one of the most important singers in America without ever being a star, because he believed in the song rather than the singer.
Throughout his 94 years, Seeger’s principles never wavered, his optimism never faltered. His biographers couldn’t find anyone with a bad word to say about him. He lived with his wife Toshi for 70 years, until her death last summer. He apologised without reservation for his naivete about Stalin, although he still considered himself a communist. He remained a committed activist and supporter of numerous causes.
Miracles do happen, but not for mankind, I’m afraid.
Aki Kaurismäki, in an interview with Sight & Sound, May 2013 issue.
In this fascinating interview from The Comics Journal #127 (March 1989), and conducted by Richard Samuel West, Bill Watterson talks about the tension between realities in Calvin and Hobbes, how popular art doesn’t have to pander, nuance, animation and why he chose not license the strip.
I try to look at a lot of different kinds of art. I enjoy the work of the German expressionists, particularly the woodcuts of the Bruecke group and Lyonel Feininger. Egon Schiele is also a favorite. I find all of his work very immediate and honest, and I suppose I respond most to the directness and rawness of these images. Prints of almost any kind have a special appeal to me. The physical difficulty in making an image usually seems to distill it, and the artist is less able to hide behind a lot of fancy technique. I like watercolor for the same reason. Once it’s down, you’re stuck with it. As to what influence these and other artists have on my cartoons, I’m hard pressed to say. Mainly they help me realize the many different ways one can visually express oneself. Too often cartoonists just look at other cartoonists and, after a lot of inbreeding, everyone has the same funny look. The challenge of drawing is that there is no one right way to visually describe something. It’s a good thing to confront your limitations and preconceptions every so often.
Black characters in Brazilian comics have been treated with stereotypes and prejudices throughout the years. Seeing a lack of comics dealing with the daily life of young black people in Brazil, Marcelo D’Salete has striven to fill in the gap. In this interview with Global Voices, D’Salete explains why black people have certainly made progress when it comes to how they are presented in the media, but with many still appearing as stereotypes, there’s much work still to be done.
GV: As a comics author, do you realize that you have a role to play in the introduction of black characters into the Brazilian comics landscape?
MDS: My intention is to problematize and make more complex the possibilities of representation of black people and of their history within comics. This is relevant not only for the movements that represent black people, but for society as a whole. We need authors who can create new perspectives and options for reading and understanding the world. This is needed in the universe of comics as well as in all arts. I imagine that a truly healthy society must recognize and engage in dialogue with the voices that arise from within its borders.
GV: History is full of changes and continuities. Is there a parallel between black characters and the comics from when you were a child and nowadays?
MDS:Black characters in the media as a whole went through very little changes over the last decades. Today, one finds black characters as protagonists in some stories and there are authors who are, in fact, concerned with this topic. On the other hand, black characters often still appear as stereotypes, as belonging to subordinate groups. Evidence of that can be seen in images depicted in the media, in TV news, soap operas and commercials. There are, indeed, some new experiences and authors who show more concern with this problem, mainly in cinema, but it is interesting to note that our history also experiences major setbacks. It’s no wonder that a short time ago a famous supermarket made use of the sculpture of a black boy in chains, as though it was something natural, harmless and ornamental. Furthermore, one can come across an ad for rum that makes use, as though it was something splendid, of an image by J. B. Debret in which one sees a group of enslaved black men working around a sugar cane mill.
Image: Cover of NoiteLuz, by Marcelo D´Salete.
Popular art does not have to pander to the lowest level of intelligence and taste.