Autumn Harvest in Sweden

Posted by on October 12th, 2010 at 4:49 AM

Autumn is here and with it, the onslaught of books which always appears after the lull in publishing throughout the summer months. Quite a lot of interesting things made its début at the recent big Book Fair in Gothenburg, and I thought I’d present a few of them here. Above can be seen the 100th issue of Galago, the venerable and still very important anthology for the Swedish comic culture. In this anniversary issue, old and new editors and artists showed that Galago is still a force to be reckoned with. A historical piece as well as a good read. The cover was, naturally, by Galago’s biggest star of all time, Joakim Pirinen.
Another important anthology is the yearly, book-format, Scandinavian Allt för konsten (Everything for the sake of Art), which with its ninth volume also showed that there is no lull in the Scandinavian development in comics art either, or for that matter in the distinct eye of editor Ingemar Bengtsson, Optimal Press. The cover with the easily identifiable art of Emelie Östergren was of course a big plus.
I held a panel at the Book Fair on the new, small but still distinguishable trend of publishing French comics in Sweden. French and Belgian comics were huge in the 1970s and 1980s but has since all but disappeared. Above can be seen Katten och Kimonon (The Cat and the Kimono), a beautiful graphic novel by Nancy Pena. The book marks the début for her in Swedish and a first in translating comics from France for the still rather new publisher Kolik. Bravo!
Another interesting translation from French was published by Albumförlaget, with its first ever hard-cover edition. For this they had chosen Uppskovet (Le Sursis) by Jean-Pierre Gibrat, an incredibly beautiful, painted story set during World War II. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best book Albumförlaget has published so far.
Collections of comic strips were also abundant. Above can be seen four new collections with the Swedish strips Medelålders plus (Middle Aged Plus) by Sven-Beril Bärnarp, Elvis by Maria and Tony Cronstam, Rocky by Martin Kellerman and Samir by Max Gustafson. These kind of comics are still very popular and the collections sell like hotcakes.
This year’s really big seller at the book fair, though, was undoubtedly Liv Strömquist’s new book Prins Charles känsla (The Feeling of Prince Charles), which has received very good reviews and created long signing queues in Galago’s booth. An interesting and very funny, feminist deconstruction of the myth of gender roles and the need to form heterosexual couples.
Positiv Förlag, also a rather new publisher, which also publishes the children’s magazine Tivoli med vänner (Tivoli and friends), published the first volume of Sara Olausson’s comics interpretation of the classic children’s book “Loranga, Masarin and Dartanjang”. Beautifully hand coloured and with just the right feeling for the original illustrations, this will be an instant classic as soon as it is finished.
Tilt was a comics anthology on the topic of drugs, alcohol abuse and dependence, which was published a few years ago from the organization ALMA Europe in cooperation with the publisher Galago. Here is the second volume, with which there is also a specially designed deck of cards with various dilemmas you may face in dealing with alcohol and drugs. A good example of using comics for other things than “simply” entertaining.

The Phantom is strangely popular in Sweden, because an extensive license production of comics with this character has been going on here since the early 1970s. This comprehensive book, published by The Scandinavian Chapter of the Lee Falk Memorial Bengali Explorers Club, contains lots of articles and facts about celebrating the hero The Phantom. An interesting book which, among other things, contains an article by our Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt…

Lastly another début, this time by Oskar Hjelmgren, who has drawn a pastische on the sci-fi movies of the 1950s and 1960s. This graphic novel was published by another small, rather new publisher, Man av Skugga (Man of Shadow).
Well, that’s it! I hope this quick run through of my book piles from the Book Fair gave you an idea of what’s being published in Sweden right now. So, what do you think? Did I miss out your favourite? Is the Swedish comics business strange to a reader from another country? Do give me feedback, in any forum available. Cheers!
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