An Eye on Every Finger

The Danish cartoonist, Ivar Gjørup, has done the impossible and written a libretto for 1/2leluja, a comics opera - the world's first? - on his comic strip, Egoland, which ran in the daily paper, Politiken, for 25 years. I for one grew up learning to see the world from the angle of Divus Madsen, examined God.

Below are the first two paragraphs of an article, which dates from 1995 and can be read in Danish here. It might very well have been written today. So without further ado:

By Ivar Gjørup 
An Eye on Every Finger

The second of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is a ban on cartoons.

Apart from a period in the 1950's it has never been taken seriously. Jesus never mentions it, and the Church Fathers skipped it. It was obviously too uncontrollable.

The second of the Ten Commandments says that "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" of anything that is in heaven and on earth, nor underwater for that matter. We prefer to understand it in its limited meaning: Do not create idols, but creating comics is fine.

It is a convenient interpretation, but it is not correct. Muslims grasped the full meaning of the ban when it was their turn to spread the true faith: Do not make pictures of the Creation, God does not want it, it is He who has the copyright.

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, May 24, 2006, 1+2
Dept. 6 (i.e. for the mentally ill) 
Holy Scriptures
Outerwear, bags and possible common sense must be deposited in the cloakroom

Here we spend many years studying 1000 difficult books...

and teach ourselves old languages with the most 
outrageous grammar to be able to guide the faithful...

Any image is idolatry; Donald Duck is a threat to the order of the world. It says so in the Exodus. But the Christian world love images and has loved them long before it was christened. So we tiptoed around the Second Commandment.

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, May 24, 2006, 3+4
...and then the freshman walks right in
 and discovers THE TRUTH...
It's right here! a COMIC
That's right!

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and God was so important that His name should not even be spelled. The Old Testament refers to Him, in code in a spy movie, "You know who", "The Lord", "J-H-v" and "Eat this note, after having read its contents!"

It goes without saying that such a Gentleman cannot allow images. "No photographs, please!"

Imagine if information about the Creation fell into the wrong hands. Into the hands of children, for instance. Or the young at heart!


But the cartoonist is a secret agent. Disguised as a human he prowls around in the Creation, in the service of a foreign power. The power of Imagination. He sends images in a steady flow to his employers; with devilish dexterity he avoids detection and capture, always one step ahead of reality.

His images provide a wealth of vital information. With trembling hands his employers open each new batch and they see!

They see a white duck dressed as a sailor. They see a dog napping on the roof of his doghouse. They see a six-year old boy on a flying carpet with a striped tiger. Incredible revelations of the life we ​​live.

The secret agents from a world we didn't even know existed have grasped it all. We see a blue clad bodybuilder with a flowing red cape; he is about to drill himself through the globe. A man in Tarzan–trunks breaks the back of a lion. Several men and women with half masks, some of them with wide-brimmed hats. A young man with girly hair and medieval sword at his side, and the red head of a horse on his chest. People in strange diving suits among the stars. Women who have put themselves in an unfortunate situation and have been rescued by strong men from a certain death (or that which is a whole lot worse!). Always at the very last moment.

The Creation is leaking. The secrets are spilled. The heroic cartoonists are working in extremely difficult conditions. Still, the images they send us are of an amazingly high quality. Detailed, crisp, rich!

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, September 25, 2006, 1+2
THE LINE: Can it be true? The true lovers of the paper...
- are the cartoonists? The clarinet tone of the pen stroke, 
the hubris of the course of the line - 

There is information in this material, which no one would believe if it were not before us in black and white. A mouse is throwing a brick at a cat. A small French man with wings on the helmet trashes a Roman legion. A large warehouse is spilling over with money from the floor to the ceiling, an unlikely wealth of coins and bills; the multi-millionaire is bathing in them wearing glasses and gaiters. Can this be true?

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, September 25, 2006, 3+4
 – the paper is groaning under the sketching of the pen: 

A silent orgasmic scream of ... 

...RELEASE – The wonder of creation every new day! 

Do not switch it off!

These are the secrets the cartoonists reveal to us. They walk around in the world carrying their inner spy camera. Even the trained observer is amazed at what the cartoonists can show us. God is lamenting. There are things that He would after all prefer to keep to Himself.

The craft of spying enjoys no great reputation. The men and women who are by the thousands working in pencil, ink and felt-tip pen, colours and brushes are largely unknown.

Some have stepped forward and have been noticed by a wider public, others have preferred to work under an alias. Cartoonists are often soloists; spies like to operate in incognito.

The profession is teeming with double identities.

Without the comics artists we would be ignorant of the fact that certain gunmen always hit what they aim at. We would be but scantily informed that women have advantages and disadvantages also in the physical sense. That there are men who are so good that they hoist themselves down from tall buildings to distribute uppercuts to unshaven thugs.

Or that our pets are thinking. And what they think!

Thank you, Ivar for your words and drawings! We have covered the magnificent world of Ivar and Divus quite a number of times. Divus and Darwin, ahem Darvin, for instance (still in Danish only, sorry!)

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