13 December 2009

Review: Swedish anthologies

The 13th of December, the third of Advent and time to look at the anthologies that shape the current Swedish comics culture.

Title: Galago 97
Editors: Mats Jonsson & Johannes Klenell
Cover by: Joanna Hellgren
Language: Swedish
98 pages, b&w/colour, magazine
Galago/Ordfront, 2009

Galago is the granddaddy of all Swedish comic anthologies, as the magazine made its debut already in 1979 and has had a major influence on Swedish comics ever since. The 1980s was probably the heyday of Galago, when it was the basis for the so-called Galago generation, the first to make comics an art form in the eyes of the public. Being an anthology of alternative comics (a term I know the current editors are steering away from), the magazine has always lived on the edge in many ways and have had many incarnations over the years.

The current Galago is back to the original format of a big sized magazine (after having been first pocket sized and then book length in the last few years) and is published four times a year. The editors, Mats Jonsson and Johannes Klenell, have revived Galago and today it is more interesting than ever, with contributions from both the old Galago generation and the  new generation of the 21st century, complemented with interesting comics from around the world. Part of the content is in colour.

Galago is in Swedish, but publisher also puts together anthologies in other languages, most notably From the Shadow of the Northern Lights, an English language anthology published last year, with a second volume planned for next spring.

Title: Allt för konsten 8
Editor: Ingemar Bengtsson
Cover by: Nicolas Krizan
Language: Swedish
312 pages, b&w/colour, hardcover
ISBN: 978-91-85951-11-6

Allt för konsten is probably the most revered of all Swedish comics anthologies. Published once a year, this big (more than 400 pages) hardcover book is a labour of love and the editor/publisher Ingemar Bengtsson has an uncanny eye for talent. Allt för konsten contains comics by Nordic artists, and is often the first place a Swedish reader meets the work of new artists from our neighbouring countries.

For each new volume, the number of pages has risen and the number of colour pages have also increased steadily, so that in the latest volume they make up almost half the book. Compared to Galago, the content of Allt för konsten is less political, harsh and ironic and more poetic, contemplative and narrative.

Title: C'est Bon Anthology vol. 8
Editorial board: Sofia Falkenhem, Allan Haverholm, Cin Iwarsson, Johan Jergner-Ekervik, Jamil Mani & Patrik Stigzelius
Cover by Kolbeinn Karlsson
Language: English
66 pages, b&w, magazine
ISSN: 1652-2141
ISBN: 978-91-978089-2-7

C'est Bon Anthology is published by the artist collective C'est Bon Kultur, and has existed in various incarnations since 2001. Starting with this issue, they will switch from two issues a year to four, lowering the price to $12.95.

CBA differs from the two above mentioned anthologies in that it's in English, distributed internationally and because the content is less literate/narrative and more geared towards the art/image driven part of the comics world. The comics are both by Swedish artists and by artist from all over the world, all very clearly made for publishing in black and white. CBA is a beautifully designed, glossy magazine, clearly aimed at the art world in general, rather than "only" towards the comic community - indicated by the description on the cover: "International Comics Art Magazine".

The latest issue contains, among other things, an interview with comics "bad boy" Mike Diana, and future issues will contain interviews with contributing artists - hopefully also Swedish ones, so as to introduce them to the international audience. C'est Bon Kultur has during the years, travelled all over the world, taking part in comics festivals, connecting Swedish and international artists and continue to do so through their international outlook.