Tuesday 25 August 2009

i backed myself into a corner of stupidity a couple of days ago. The comic book world, which is an area of Hell to which I appear to have been consigned for all Eternity, temporarily broke my head. I thought it might make my sentence more bearable if I stopped blogging. I managed to hold to that for only one day and now I'm back with a completely new subject. PUBIC HAIR. What got me started was this very amusing opinion piece from The Melbourne Age by Cordelia Fine ("that rare academic who's also an excellent writer" -Library Journal),
The final frontier of womanhood is under siege from the "beauty" police.
EXPERTS estimate that if deforestation continues to increase at current rates, by the year 2037 there will be no female pubic hair left in Australia.
Every day, in salons across the country, an area of pubic hair the size of Richmond is covered in hot wax and ripped out from the roots. Some of it may be old growth that has been flourishing undisturbed for years, perhaps even decades. But in literally minutes it is gone.

I feel compelled to view that wonderful painting "L'origine du Monde' by Gustave Courbet (1866).

I love the way that paintings attract to themselves strange but glorious histories:
The commission is believed to have come from Khalil Bey, a Turkish diplomat, former ambassador of the Ottoman Empire in Athens who had just moved to Paris... After Khalil-Bey’s finances were ruined by gambling, the painting... was first bought by antique dealer Antoine de la Narde. Edmond de Goncourt hit upon it in an antique shop in 1889, hidden behind a wooden pane decorated with the painting of a castle or a church in a snowy landscape. Hungarian collector Baron Ferenc Hatvany bought it at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery in 1910 and took it with him to Budapest. Towards the end of the Second World War the painting was looted by Soviet troops but ransomed by Hatvany who, when he emigrated, was allowed to take only one art work with him, and he took L'Origine to Paris. In 1955 L’Origine du monde was sold at auction for 1.5 million francs. Its new owner was the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. After Lacan died in 1981, the French Minister of Economy and Finances agreed to settle the family’s inheritance tax bill through the transfer of the work to the Musée d'Orsay, an act which was finalized in 1995. According to postcard sales L’Origine du monde is the second most popular painting in the Musée d’Orsay, after Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette
While googling the title of the painting I came across this rather striking book cover:

Behind this cover you will find the story of a "dwarf named Bergamme" who "set fire to the Grand Central Museum on March 23, 2020." and " in his half-burned state sneaked off with Courbet’s famous work L’Origine du monde." (this is juicily close to our own Zany the dwarf being convicted for stealing the Mona Lisa in Leotard) "All that may ever be understood of the Bergamme case is contained in the confession he made to the narrator/reporter of this account before he died from the burns. L’Origine du monde is a puzzling, tragicomic detective novel, and a criminal investigation into philosophical musings, which delves into the nature of modern art. It has been nominated for the Prix Interallié."

It took a minute to strike me as odd that the above summary of a French language book is in English. I was on the site of an organization called The French Publisher's Agency, which i hadn't heard of before "If you want to sell foreign books to American publishers, complaining at length or denouncing America's so-called 'cultural isolation' won't be of any help: I thought we just had to go by the rules, I mean the American rules of a reliable agent, of personal contacts and a harsh book selection. While some French professionals mocked the idea, as it always happens in our country, some others agreed, and this is how it all started.". I bet you'd have to change that cover though, mes amis. 

Before we leave this rambling consideration of female pubic hair, it must be added that among the most strangely and charmingly erotic images in the history of art are those in the series of ladies muffs engraved by Wenzel Hollar (1607-1677):



Blogger Kimota94 aka Matt aka AgileMan said...

For this, you abandoned your self-imposed hermitage?!?

OK, on second thought, female pubic hair is a great reason for just about anything a man might do.

Carry on, old man... ;-)

Oh, and by the way, I've been meaning to ask: what do you think of the term 'graphic novel' as applied to comic books with spines? Just wondering.........

25 August 2009 at 19:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Eclipse comics, long defunct, used to have an advertising slogan: "Comics with spine," which I liked, because it's an idea, intelligently expressed. Ideas are worth talking about. What bugs me are the endless arguments that cannot possibly add to our knowledge, arguments about measurements or pedantic applications of definitions that were cockeyed in the first place, like the one I quoted in the previous comment like how Watchmen can't be an OGN because it's a TPB. What does this convey to the public at large, apart from the suspicion that comic collectors are a bit nutty?. While this stuff may make no difference to a regular reader, as an author who has a book coming out, it's despairing to have constantly try to recreate the context in which the book is to be received. This is a bigger task than you might think. One almost has to recreate every time the whole context for why a grown up should read comics at all. I may be misremembering, but Escape (or one of the other of the time) when it started carrying ads, had sleek stylish ones. Lets' say for the sake of argument the ads were for Burberry raincoats and Smirnoff Vodka. Compare that contextualizing with the current comic books, where the ads are almost all for video games (I haven't looked lately, I'm just being hypothetical). Even something like the kinds of ads you seek to carry will help to create and nurture your context.

25 August 2009 at 22:27:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Jody Macgregor said...

On the subject of comics collectors being a bit nutty, apparently meth dealers are getting into the field now. I look forward to hearing their perspective. http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/08/collecting_comics_isnt_just_for_nerds_anymore_its.php

26 August 2009 at 03:24:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Holland, we call 'em (comics, that is, not vulvas) somewhat antiquatedly "Beeldverhalen" ("Image stories") or "stripboeken", "strip albums" or simply "strips".

But then, the standard Continental "stripboek" always has a spine, and the stapled things are still seen as inferior 'mercan import pulp, which are called "Comics".

What a mindbender it was, when some enterprising Dutch publishers started collecting American comics in spined covers (2 standard Elfquest comics making one standard 45 page stripboek... "Savage Sword of Conan"s were coloured and published with spine: http://images8.speurders.nl/images/14/1415/14151378_1.jpg )...

26 August 2009 at 03:49:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Nick said...

Interesting to have comic ads and Conan brought up in the comments, as I was in our local at the weekend looking at the ads in a big stack of 70s Conans - one featured a heartwarming four-page pullout ad for (mostly enormous) rings, including a number of engagement rings. I'm hard-pressed to imagine a more romantic wedding proposal that one that employs a ring ordered from the pages of Conan the Barbarian.

26 August 2009 at 05:05:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Ernesto said...

Ah, it's always a relief to visit this corner of sanity and brilliant intelligence. Thank you, Mr Campbell.

26 August 2009 at 05:20:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Michael Evans said...

More importantly, pubic hair has been trimmed, shaved, removed, whatever for the entire discernible recorded history of humanity as has any other hair on the human animal. This is just fashion, it all turns in time.

29 August 2009 at 06:17:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Clare said...

What a beautiful painting! It's such a shame that in a time of supposed increased liberty and knowledge modern society would find an image like that shocking and best kept hidden. I wonder what would happen if you tried sending a postcard of that through the postal system.

30 August 2009 at 06:31:00 GMT-5  

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