29 September 2011

News: The Gothenburg Book Fair 2011

Project manager Fanny Bystedt likes the debate on Seriescenen.
So, the Book Fair in Gothenburg is over and done with, most of us have managed to get home and lick our wounds and now, finally, I'm ready to report about this exhillerating and exhausting event.

The audience often spread out far beyond the few seats that were allocated for Seriescenen.
There were several things that helped form this to one of the best Gothenburg Book Fairs ever, when looking at it from a comics perspective. One reason was definitely Seriescenen (The Comics Stage), managed by the ever cheerful and professional Fanny Bystedt, this year filled with interesting debates, artist talks, live drawings and so on. We constanstly filled the auditorium, and often stopped the traffic around the stage with people standing and watching. Here are a few higlights.

Joakim Pirinen and Nina Hemmingsson interviewed.
Åsa Warnqvist interviews Don Rosa.
The comics "battle", with, among others, Max Gustafsson, Tinet Elmgren and Kim W. Andersson.  
I was on stage on and of all through the fair, or at least that was what it felt like, as I had had too little time to prepare before the fair, which meant that I had to do research, prepare questions etc. all over the place. Everything worked out well, though. First was the big panel with some of the most influential comics publishers in Sweden, as can be seen below. This went well, and gave at least some insight into where we are heading, even though most of them, naturally, would not talk too much about their future plans.

The panel on the Swedish comics business. From left to right: Your's truly, Johannes Klenell (Galago), Josefin Svenske (Kolik),  Ingemar Bengtsson (Otimal), Mikael Sol (Egmont) and Rolf Classon (Kartago). 

Then I did a talk with the people involved in the new comics publisher Apart, who has started publishing the international hit The Walking Dead in Swedish. As one of the editors is also a cartoonist, he drew me as a zombie, during the talk, making me realize that this does not take all that much tweaking of reality...  

Jimmy Wallin, Jonas Andersson and Johan Kimrin from Apart, on Seriescenen.
Yours truly being portrayed as a zombie...
After this, it was time for the yearly ceremony of handing out the prestigious Urhunden awards. As per usual, this was officiated by the history professor Dick Harrison and me. Of the award recipients, Malin Biller and the publishers from Positiv förlag were present, and the award for Shaun Tan was accepted by the publisher, who read a long statement from Tan, saying how much he appreciated the honour. 

Malin Biller being awarded Urhunden for the best Swedish graphic novel.

The publisher Kerstin Aronsson of Kabusa, acepts the award for Shaun Tan.
The editors/publishers of Positiv Förlag, Jennie Warg and Camilla Nyman, receiving Unghunden.
On the final day, I had two public appearances. The first consisted of leading the debate on censorship in general and the sentencing of the manga translator Simon Lundström for possession of what has been deemed child pornography in the shape of japanese drawings of comic characters. In the panel were script writer and comics historian Magnus Knutsson, cartoonist Tinet Elmgren and congress woman Maria Abrahamsson. A difficult topic to discuss, but I think the debate went very well, with a lot of input from the audience.
Me and Magnus Knutsson on stage during the debate on censorship. 
Magnus Knutsson, Tinet Elmgren and Maria Abrahamsson, on the panel about censorship.
Finally, I got to lead an artist talk with the Donald Duck artist Don Rosa in one of the major conference rooms of the fair, which was filled to the brim of eager fans. Since Rosa had already been properly interviewed on Seriescenen that same day, I made this a much more casual event, with a discussion between the two of us and Rosa also doing his popular "How NOT to draw Donald Duck" talk.

Don Rosa drawing in public, on a too small canvas...

All these public events aside, the publishers and the cartoonists are of course the main attraction of the fair, and this year there were more publisher, more buzz, more readers/buyers than ever. Sometimes there were bigger crowds in the comics section of the fair, then in the rest of it and they were buying lots and lots of comics. Most publishers talked about breaking their sales records for the fair and the queues for signing were sometimes enormous.

Here are some of the publishers that were present:



Albumförlaget and Apart.


Celebrations in the booth of Positiv Förlag.
And then there were of course loads and loads of cartoonists present. here are some that I managed to get a photo of:

Malin Biller.
Sara Hansson.
Don Rosa.
Mats Jonsson.

Lina Neidestam.
Well, that was about it fro this year. There were several other events, like for instance the Adamsson awards, of which I lost all my photos. Here's a photo of the two awards received by artists from Kolik Förlag.

Kolik Förlag recieved two Adamson awards, for Lina Neidestam's Maran och Kim W. Andersson's Love Hurts.

Then there was the official dinner for all the speakers and guests of the fair, a posh event at one of the grander houses in Gothenburg. I must admit that I prefer the rowdy Galago party, or even better the really good beers and likewise company at the pub the Flying Barrel, which has become my favourite night time water hole the last three or four Book Fairs in Gothenburg.

The interior of Börsen in Gothenburg, beautiful but impossible to shoot with an iPhone...
Anyway, this was a really good book fair for comics. Everyone from publishers to visitors seemed satisfied and there were more new Swedish comics for sale than ever. We are truly living in a Golden Age of Swedish comics right now, and I predict that it will become even better in the coming year or two. So, see you at the Book Fair 2012!

For more photos from the this year's Book Fair, check out my photo album on FaceBook.
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