21 December 2013

Merry Christmas to one and all!


It's been a year since I wrote here, as can be readily seen by the previous entry being last year's Christmas greetings... I have for various reasons not been active here at Sekventiellt, having used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare and other media for my digital communication during 2013. In 2014 I am again planning something new altogether. Stay tuned!

The above image, capturing the Strömberg family right now, is of course drawn by my very talented wife, Hanna, who this year chose to imitate the style of Norwegian Frode Øverli's comic Pondus. As many of you probably know by now, there is a New Year's comic in the same style a-coming.

It's been a really good year. We've gotten a daughter and bought a house, I've released new books and worked on books that will be published during 2014, I've travelled all over the world and met some really interesting and nice people, worked with my great colleagues at the Swedish Comics Association and the Comics Art School, written on my thesis and then some.

Now for some much needed R'n'R before we head into a new year that looks to be just as intense. See you then and there.

26 September 2012

News: Gothenburg Book Fair here we come!



It's that time of the year. Everyone who's working in the comics business in Sweden have the last weeks, not to say moths, been preparing for the biggest party of the year; the Book Fair in Gothenburg. Tomorrow everything starts and I will of course be there all four days. This year I have an even more hectic schedule than usual, but it's all fun and games and in the service of comics of course.


I will be on stage quite a lot, mostly on the Swedish Association's Comics stage, which has been allotted even more space this year and will now definitely be the hub of the whole comics part of the fair. Above can be seen the three dimensional model that we made earlier this year, and tomorrow I will be able to send you photos of the actual stage.

Anyway, here's my official schedule for the Gothenburg Book Fair 2012:

Thursday

Strippseriernas framtid i Sverige (The Future of comics strips in Sweden)
Time: 16.00-16.45
Place: The Comics Scene

This will be an interesting panel, which I moderate, with representatives from various parts of this industry, from artists to publishers, all trying to figure out what to do about a situation where more and more Swedish newspapers stop publishing comics strips. 
Friday

Lansering av bildobubbla.se (Launch of bildobubbla.se)
Time: 12.30-12.50
Place: The Comics Scene

Here I will be on stage with the Swedish Comics Association's very own Jakob Hallin, who will talk about the brand spanking new websites that we are launching, containing just about everything about comics.
Serier i undervisningen (Comics in Education)
Time: 14.30-14.50
Place: Stage F5
 
This will be my only straightforward lecture this year, and I will talk about how comics can be integrated into the world of education, something that I am very excited about.
Strindberg och de tecknade serierna (Strindberg and the Comics)
Time: 16.00-16.45
Place: The Comics Scene

Another panel that I moderate, this time with some of the Swedish comics artists who, the last couple of years have been inspired by the great national author August Strindberg. A discussion on comics and literature.

Saturday

Don Rosa berättar (Don Rosa Talks)

Time: 10.00-10.45
Place: The Comics Scene

One of the really big events on this year's Book Fair. The world's most famous Donald Duck artist on stage. I will be talking with Rosa about his career in general and about the facts, scientific and historical, that his comics are filled with. 
Urhunden prisutdelning (Ceremony for the Urhunden Award) 
Time: 15.00-15.45
Place: The Comics Scene

Another highlight of the festival is the ceremony for the Urhunden Awards, which as per usual will be handed out by history professor Dick Harrison, assisted by yours' truly. After the ceremony I will be interviewing one of the recipients on stage.    
Phew! Quite a lot to do, but as I said earlier, all fun and games! Aside from these events I will be at the Swedish Comics Association's booth of course, which this year is situated right next to the Comics Scene. And I will be going to as many parties as I can muster, talk to everyone that I haven't met since last year's Book Fair and everyone else that I meet at this glorious place, drink as many beers as I can and all in all have a really good time.

I will try to blog as much as possible here, as I usually do, but as many of you have discovered these past few months I am also more present on various social media nowadays and much of what I earlier reported here on Sekventiellt, ends up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram instead. So if you want a more steady stream of info on the Book Fair and the Swedish comics scene, do connect with me on any or all of these venues:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram 

Well, that's it. See you there!

3 July 2012

News: The Queen of Horse Comics


I'm always proud when a new issue of Bild & Bubbla arrives, but sometimes even more so than usually. That is the case with the issue that just arrived, number 191 since the start in 1968, and number 58 since I became editor in 1997... 

Anyway, what I am so proud of is the fact that we FINALLY managed to get one of the most important Swedish comics artists ever, to not only to create a cover and allow us to do a lengthy interview, but also provide us with much unpublished material for our sketch section.

I am of course talking about Lena Furberg, the undisputed queen of horse comics, who have consistently created comics for, mainly, female readers since the 1970s, and in doing so have influenced generation upon generation of readers. Because horse comics are mostly for girls, they have long been neglected in the history of comics in Sweden, and I am very proud to have had the possibility to start to rectify this just a little bit. 

More information on this issue here. If you want to order issue 191, go to Serieaffären, which stocks all of the publications from the Swedish Comics Association. There you can also buy the special, separate, deluxe edition of Furberg's sketch section.

20 June 2012

News: Scandinavian Journal of Comics Art


The conference Academic Perspectives on Comics, Manga & Graphic Novels as Intercultural & Intermedial Phenomena, held in Växjö in 2009, was the very first of its kind in Sweden. I was co-organizer with Margareta Wallin-Wictorin and at the end we announced that there would be a new Nordic academic journal about comics. Little did we know how much work this would entail...
 

Now, three years later, after endless nights with editing, technological problems, layout and design and so on, we are proud to announce that the very first issue of Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art is available at last, and it's shock full of interesting articles, reviews etc.

I am of course proud as can be, but there is no resting on your laurels in the publishing business. So, now I urge all of you (after having read the first issue that is...) to help spread the word and not the least, send us articles for future volumes.  Scandinavia now has its very own academic journal on comics. Let's fill it with interesting, thought-provoking articles and reviews!

16 June 2012

News: Oslo Comics Expo 2012

The impressive entrance to the Oslo library, where the Comics Library is situated.
Last weekend I was invited as a speaker at the Oslo Comics Expo. I was really happy about this, because I have actually managed to miss OCX every year since it started, due to it often being held at a time when I'm busy wrapping up the last semester of the Comics Art School of Malmö, with applications, exhibitions, public exams, yearbooks and so on...

Yours truly, talking about the Swedish Comics Association.
I arrived on Friday morning and was immediately thrown up on stage, together with friends and colleagues Paul Gravett (UK), Matthias Wivel (DK) and Morten Harper (NO), to talk about how we have organized the work to promote comics in our respective countries.

Matthias Wivel.
Paul Gravett.
Me, Paul and Matthias, with moderator Morten Harper. 
This all went well, and it was really interesting to hear about this work from different geographical perspectives. As we in Sweden have been working with the Swedish Comics Association since 1968, we have come some ways in organizing ourselves, and I was happy to hear that my presentation gave inspiration to many in the audience and that in the discussions afterwards, it was even labelled "the Swedish model". I hope we have more of these international discussions in the future, and that we can keep learning from each other, to expand the scope of comics around the world, making sure that comics get proper museums, archives, academic study and so on.

The entrance to Serieteket, the Comics Library in Oslo.



After this I had a chance to actually look at Serieteket, the Comics Library of Oslo, which is also the organizer of the festival, and the place where the talk was held. Serieteket is a small but beautiful comics library, with a good stock of books and most importantly a knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. I was most impressed with what they have achieved with rather small funding and loved the small rooms with specialized assortments of books.


One of the best experiences of the whole festival was the on stage discussion on Friday night, led by Norwegian artist Flu Hartberg and with among others Chris Ware and Seth on the panel. Now, I've heard these guys talk on stage several times before and having many persons on stage at the same time often means that no-one gets to say anything really interesting, but this was something completely different. Hartberg presented us and the artists with a constant flow of images from art history, and managed to get a conversations going on what art is, how it communicates and so on. Really interesting to listen to and a concept I will most likely "borrow" in the future, when I'm asked to moderate a panel with interesting artists.

Steffen Kverneland taking a photo of a much talked about Scottish comics magazine for girls, from 1967, that I saved from being cut up and turned into a new comic by the Dongery crew on the last party night of OCX. Oh, and that's Matthias Wivel taking a photo of Steffen, and me taking a photo of them both...
Traveling here to Oslo made me realize just how many I know in the Norwegian comics business, even if I only go to Norway every five years or so. Through three days I got to talk to, and more often than not drink beers with, great people like Håkon Strand, Erik Falk. Espen Holtestaul, Jason, Steffen Kverneland, Lars Fiske, Tore Strand Olsen, Morten Harper, Bendik Kaltenborn, Øyvind Holen and many more. Meeting up with all these great friends and colleagues of mine that I more often than not otherwise meet in Angoulême, New York or some other place where there is a comics festival, was great. I also made a bunch of new friends, like the above depicted Are Edvardsen, the president of Norsk Tegenserieforum and Berit Petersheim from Serieteket. 

Christopher Nielsen's specially designed pinball machine. 

Christopher Nielsen's gigantic wall art, an extension of his pinball machine was the main focus of attention on the final party night at OCX.
The party on Saturday was also really interesting. It took place in a nearby locale where Christopher Nielsen had designed a whole pinball machine, with an extended wall that made for a perfect backdrop to the party. Here we had a dinner where the organizers had the good idea of covering the tables with paper and handing out pens to everyone, which resulted in some very interesting art. Among other thing, I saw Paul Gravett design a Galactus character, with a great whopping G in his headgear... 

Bidding for the unique Dongery fanzine under way. 
During the whole of the party, the Dongery crew created comics for a fanzine that when it was finished, had all originals, physical and digital, destroyed, and the resulting physical fanzine auctioned out. This was a great happening and I still regret not bidding when this unique item went for just about 600 NOK.  

Joost Swarte, Seth and Chris Ware.

Domingos Isabellinho and Matthias Wivel. 
Paul Gravett and Ulli Lust, with a representative for the Goethe Institute in Norway. 
This festival was also a lot about reconnecting and hanging out with old friends from all over the world, like Ulli Lust, Paul Gravett and Chris Ware, and meeting and making new acquaintances, like Domingos Isabellinho, Pascal Girard, Marc Bell and Joost Swarte. The festival took really good care of us international guests and made this a very enjoyable trip. So a heartfelt thank you to the organizers. 

All in all, Oslo Comics Expo is a small but ambitious and very friendly comics festival well worth visiting, and I for one will try to come back in the years to come.

15 June 2012

News: Victory in our Time! The Manga Case has been Repealed


Sentence has been delivered by the Supreme Court in Sweden in the so called Manga Case (Mangamålet - even the Supreme Court now calls it that...) and the translator Simon Lundström has been exonerated! The whole sentence can be downloaded at the Supreme Court's official website.

This is really good news, both for Lundström, who I assume now will get his translation jobs back as he is fully exonerated of all charges, but also of course for all of Sweden where a demarcation has been drawn, stating that at least a certain degree of iconisation means that drawings/art are officially to be deemed as fiction.

The problem is that the court has not gone all in and stated that all fiction is off-limits for the child pornography law. The Supreme Court deemed 38 of the remaining 39 images to be fiction and the law of child pornography thus not applicable. Sadly, the court found that the soon to be infamous "39th image" was so realistic that it was to be considered child pornography. But at the same time they ruled that Lundström is an expert and that the possession of this one image is OK according to the text in the law.

I, who have seen all of these images since I was one of the expert witnesses in the Supreme Court, can not see that there was any image that was very much more realistic than any other. If anything, the 39th image which is still illegal to look at, therefore I can't show it here is drawn in a slightly more European style, which might have influenced the ruling in a case that has focused a lot on the iconic aspects of Japanese comics. More importantly, if the court deems that drawn images are fiction, then stating that one out of 39 is not, feels rather arbitrary. The fact that all three levels of the Swedish judicial system have had different opinions on what is and what is not child pornography according to Swedish law (District Court: 52 images, Court of Appeals: 39 images, Supreme Court: 1 image) also says that this law is arbitrary and to say the least, difficult to apply.

All of this leads up to the inevitable conclusion, that the law has to be revised, and with this ruling backing up popular opinion, I would say that we are getting close to actually seeing that happening.

But, these are all minor quibbles. For now, today, let's all rejoice in the fact that common sense has prevailed over a not so well thought-through law. We won!

If you want to read more about the Manga Case, here are some of the texts I have written earlier on the same subejct:

Naked manga characters = child pornography (2 August 2010)

Burn your comics! (22 August 2010)

Proposed EU law against child pornography (16 March 2011)

The Swedish Comcis Association, for which I am President, has also issued two official statements, after the first and the second sentence (in Swedish though).

7 June 2012

News: Oslo Comics Expo


The weekend is getting near and I am packing my bags once agin, this time to go to Oslo and Oslo Comic Expo (OCX). I have never before attended OSX (this is a troublesome period of the year for travelling) and am really looking forward to it. There are some very interesting guests this year, like Chris Ware, Seth and Joost Swarte, whom I am really looking forward to meeting again.


I have been invited by Serieteket (the Comics Library in Oslo) to talk at a conference on comics and cultural lobbying on Friday. I will talk about how we have organized the work of getting comics more culturally accepted and not the least governmentally funded in Sweden - on a panel with friends and colleagues Paul Gravett (UK) and Matthias Wivel (DK).

I will also attend a conference held by Nordic Network for Comics Research (NNCORE), of which I am a founding member. This will be great, as there are too few opportunities to meet up with fellow academics with an interest in comics.

Lastly, I will be helping out at the Swedish booth at OCX, with friend and fellow board member of the Swedish Comics Association, Liv Lingborn. Come and look us up, buy an issue of Bild & Bubbla or just have a chat.

During the whole of the festival I will, as per usual, try to get you as many photo reportages as I can muster. So stay tuned!

4 June 2012

News: Zlatan the Duck Man


Here's a fun fact for all lovers of comics and football (that's soccer for all of you from across the Atlantic Ocean). The issue of Kalle Anka & C:o (the Swedish Donald Duck magazine) currently on sale has a football theme, with comics about football, a specially designed poster with the Swedish football team as Disney ducks, and - my favourite - the above shown cover sporting (...) a meet with Donald Duck and the Swedish star footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Beautiful and bizzare...

30 April 2012

Live: MoCCA 2012 - Day 2

The second day of MoCCA has ended, and I'm exhausted but very pleased with the way things has turned out. I've had another signing session with Fantagraphics, and my book was actually sold out at the end of the show. That felt good.

I've also managed to actually walk the floor today, looking at all the books and fanzines that were for sale. This is always interesting as it says a lot about the currents in the comics culture right now. For me, the most interesting stuff was published by the big publishers, Fantagraphics of course, but also Top Shelf, Drawn & Quarterly, Abrams, Yo Books and a few more. Together they put out so many new, interesting books that it's dizzying.

There were a few really interesting fanzines as well, but for the most part, they left me cold, being derivatives of well known genres and styles.

We also managed to get together representatives from the different Nordic countries, discussing how we can improve our cooperation at MoCCA in years to come. There was a lot of energy at this meeting and a lot of good ideas, so it is looking good for the Nordic Alley at MoCCA 2013.

After the show had ended I went for dinner with friend and colleague David Gerstein, whom I hadn't met in a few years and we had, as is always the case when you eat out with David, a great meal and some good gossip about the comics business.

Right now, I'm back at the hotel room, reading some of all the books I've bought. Tomorrow I'll go shopping and sit around at cafes working, before flying home in the evening. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it...

29 April 2012

Live: MoCCA 2012 - Day 1

Today, the festival got started and the beautiful great hall of the Armory filled up with visitors.

There was a long queue hours before opening, and my personal favourite: a street playing Boba Fett, doing interpretations of Star Wars themes on an accordion.

The room filled up quickly and the heat slowly rose, along with the sound of fervent discussions about anything comics related.

The Nordic Alley was today full of participants, with tables representing Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Today was also time for the official Nordic panel, for which I was moderator. Representing the Nordic countries on stage were Peter Madsen (DA), Mattias Elftorp (SE), Bendik Kaltenborn (NO) and Kaisa Leka & Harri Römpötti (FI). The audience was unexpectantly big and very enthusiastic, ready with many questions at the end of the panel.

After this I did my first signing session at the Fantagraphics booth, giving me the opportunity to for the first time properly examine my new book Jewish Images in Comics, which turned out nicely thick, almost cubic. The extended softcover edition of the long since sold out Black Images in the Comics had also arrived and also looks really nice. All in all, I'm very satisfied with the results and looking forward to seeing the reviews.

Now day one of the festival is over and I am heading off to the official Fantagraphics dinner, with among others my old friend Jason, who came over here from France. Tomorrow I'll try to get time to actually look at the rest of the festival and see what gems there are to be found among all these booths.

28 April 2012

Live: MoCCA 2012 - Day 0

Having arrived safely to New York late last night, I had the opportunity to spend a whole day in this buzzing city before the main event, the MoCCA Art Fest started.

I spent the day walking about, among other things visiting a comic book store, Jeff Hanley's Universe, to get a proper feel for the American comics business. The dominance of the superhero genre is rather evident.

Then I visited the MoCCA site, at the beautiful but strange Armory building. The bigger publishers were already building their booths, and lo and behold, there was my new book: Jewish Images in the Comics; just as chunky and cubic as I had imagined. Sadly Fantagraphics had only been able to secure a few copies for the festival, so I could not carry one away with me, but it felt great to hold it in my hands. More on the book tomorrow.

When I had met up with Swedish artist Mattias Elftorp (Piracy is Liberation) and we had finished building the Swedish booth, we headed back out into the city, visiting the Fresh Meat festival, where the students of The School of Visual Art were displaying their fanzines. Walking about, looking at their comics made me realize just how similar things can be, despite geographic and cultural divides, as the art they displayed felt like it could have been made by the students of my Comic Art School of Malmö.

After this we met up with the Danish group, which as usual is the biggest Nordic group at MoCCA, and had some rather good beers before heading back to the hotel. All in all, a very good start of a festival that really doesn't start until tomorrow.