16 November 2010

AltCom: A Weekend of Comics, Networking and Debates

The official illustration for the festival, by Swedish artist (and boss for the festival) Mattias Elftorp.
The AltCom weekend is over, and I must say that I am very pleased with how it all turned out. We've had a festival for kids and kids' comics in Malmö for about ten years now, but this was the first all-out adult comics festival and it drew a fair number of visitors, some really interesting guests from all over the world, many publishers and so on.

C'est Bon Kultur.
During the festival weekend, many publishers, big and small, Swedish and international, sold their comics and there was much interesting new stuff to be found. Here's a few of the publishers that I managed to capture on photo (with my iPhone...).

Portuguese publisher Marcos Farajota and his company MMMNNNRRRG.
British artist Howard Hardiman.

Editor Johannes Klenell at the Swedish publisher Galago.
The Swedish online anthology babian, and editor Mikael Sol.
Hans Holm at the Swedish Comics Association.

Artist Lisa Rydberg at the Swedish publisher Kolik.

During the festival weekend, there was a continuous flow of artist talks, debates, interviews etc. on stage.

Artist Natalia Batista and translator Simon Lundström.
One of the most anticipated was without a doubt the one about manga, censorship and child pornography, with Swedish artist Natalia Batista (editor of the anthology Swedish Comic Sin) and the sentenced manga translator Simon Lundström. Even though we could not get any official representatives from the organisations that argue for the law in question, the debate was lively and continued long after the slot for this part of the program was over.


The debate on alternative comics, led by me and with a panel consisting of artist Knut Larsson (SE), publisher Thomas Schröder (DK), artist Terhi Ekebom (FI) and artist Johanna Rojola (FI).
Other parts of the program included a talk on the future for alternative comics in the Nordic countries, led by yours truly, as well as presentations by most of the international guests, visiting publishers etc. All-in-all, it was an interesting program, but next time we will have to put the stage in another room than the one used for the market, as these two activities constantly disturbed each other.

Swedish artist Fanny Bystedt interviews French artist Ivan Brun.

The painting by Ivan Brun.

There were a number of exhibitions before, during and after the festival, inviting the people of Malmö to look at comic art at a number of public venues. One of the most talked-about was the huge drawing, made at the festival by French artist Ivan Brun. The motive was a comment on the recent outrage caused by a female Israeli soldier posing for photos in front of bound and gagged Palestinian prisoners, and exactly as the artist intended, it started some heated debates.

Artist Lars Krantz, with his original art.
In the same room as Brun's painting could also be seen original art from the book En hjälpande hand (A Helping Hand) by Swedish artist Lars Krantz. The theme of this book, the arms export of Sweden, made it perfect for a festival about Sex and War.
 
The very popular grand opening of Panorama III.
 

The artists displayed three panoramic paintings each. 

One of the images by Sofia Falkenhem.

Another exhibition that attracted many visitors, not the least on the crowded grand opening, was the collective C'est Bon Kultur's Panorama III: Super Mario, containing works by all the active members of CBK on the theme of Mario of Nintendo fame. As usual, the interpretations were very different, but kept together by the widescreen format of the art. Above can be seen one of my personal favourites, a picture by Swedish artist Sofia Falkenhem (The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga).



An exhibition in another part of town was the evocative Zombies, by the collective Wormgod (Mattias Elftorp and Susanne Johansson). This was shown in a dark room, where the visitors were fitted with a head-lamp and made to walk around among life sized paintings of approaching zombies. A simple, yet strangely effective idea.


Then there was the exhibition Swedish Comic Sin, based on the anthology with the same name, showcasing the art of ten young Swedish artists making comics about one of the most primal of urges. This project has snowballed, and volume two promises to contain the work of at least twice as many artists.


Finally, at the City Public Library, there was, and is, an exhibition with comics made by Swedish and Danish artists, celebrating the masterpiece Maus by Art Spiegelman. These comics were also printed in the latest issue of the magazine Bild & Bubbla as part of a celebration of the fact that Maus after a long hiatus is in print in Swedish again.

Danijel Zezelj and musicians.

We also had a great party on Saturday night, where the end-all experience was seeing the artist Danijel Zezelj painting live on stage, accompanied by musicians Jessica Luri and Marjan Stanic. They really left me breathless and the photo shown above cannot in any sense capture the experience.


The moment I think I'll remember most from this festival, though, is inviting Canadian artist Ho Che Anderson to my home on Saturday night, having him play Wii Sports with my family...