8 June 2011

Recommendation: Viktor Kasparssons makabra mysterier

Title: Viktor Kasparssons makabra mysterier
Translation: The Macabre Adventures of Viktor Kasparsson
By: Dennis Gustafsson
Language: Swedish
68 pages, color, soft bound
Albumförlaget, 2010

There's something brewing in the Swedish comics culture. You don't need to be a genius to notice that there are more and more original Swedish graphic novels published in genres like science fiction, horror, adventure and so on; something that was almost unheard of just ten years ago. Many, including myself, have already written about this phenomenon, but I still feel it worth mentioning in conjuncture with a review of this début book.

When I first got the book Viktor Kasparssons makabra äventyr in my hand it made me happy for several reasons. Firstly, a good début by a Swedish artist is always something to celebrate, Secondly, that the publisher Albumförlaget, which had so far only published translations of French and Belgian comics, now also publishes Swedish artists, broadening the possibilities, both for Swedish artists and for Swedish readers. And last but not least, that this comic is set in my beloved Skåne, the very south of Sweden.

The stories are set in the 1930s and tell tales of horror and the supernatural, in an otherwise realistically rendered historical setting. The hero is made out of of a classical mould: a lone, tweed-clad private investigator, who encounters a surprising number of supernatural beings in his investigations. The book consists of a number of shorter stories, each capped of by a letter written by the hero, summing up his feelings about what has occurred. We are treated to versions of a number of Swedish myths, including the one one about Näcken (a water sprite). The writing works, but still leaves some things to be desired. I especially would have preferred a longer story, or a more cohesive connecting of the short stories to each other.
The art is really interesting. The style is loose, with bold brush strokes and a luscious coloring. You get the  feeling that Gustafsson has been testing out how to do this under way, which is fine for a début book and really doesn't detract from the reading experience. All in all, I'm impressed, and that not simply because the stories are set in my part of the world. Dennis Gustafsson has created a very solid book and I for one really look forward to the next instalment of Viktor Kasparssons makabra äventyr.