The Stockholm International Comics Festival , the Small Press Expo, is organized by Serieteket at House of Cutlure “Kulturhuset” City Theatre (Stadsteatern), Stockholm. It was about time I dragged my legs in that direction. This year it was extra fun, now when Irma Eriksson, who I know and have interviewed, (click to read the interview) was participating as an exhibitor. Irma Eriksson is the creator of two comics, including the excellent Imy The Comic .
I took the bike and bicycled through a sunny and cheerful Stockholm. Filled with happy tourists and locals. At Sergel Square (Sergels Torg) as is tradition, had a demonstration going on. Outside Burger King, where I admit that I ate two quick burgers for 10 SEK each, stood a man and woman who certainly once have dreamed of a life in the fast lane. With a dream of glitz, glam and neon lights, and probably once whanted a bit like that sufficiently dangerous addition to it, so they felt that they lived an exciting life. But today they are sadly so under the ice in drugs and just trying to survive each day. And dreaming perhaps of a better life. All while families with children and participants of the demonstration are eating burgers and fries and soda, and the children crying because they want an ice cream and balloons. While others buy clothes in the large chain stores. And buying books on culture, going to a matinee theater and playing chess in the cultural house premises.
After having my two burgers, walking over Sergel square (Sergelstorg), “Plattan” as its called by local Stockholmers, pass demonstration, passing the actress who played Pippi Longstocking in the original films and through the entrance, I am struck by how everything suddenly changed. It all becomes pop-culturally. There stands an older man, 60 years of age with a cape around his neck as if he were a superhero in costume trousers and polo shirt, and it feels completely natural. While a young woman with black platform shoes and a big and tall hairstyle with a small dangling skeleton of perhaps 10 cm above the forehead, selling her own comic books. And the outside world suddenly seems so far away, so distant and to have vanished. As fast as in a gust of wind when the front entrance door is closed.
Once inside the comics festival, like a mini-mini comic con version, I am struck as I walk past one exhibitor table after the other, how good the and talented many of the cartoonist, comic artists particpating are. It’s been a while since I visited the Small Press Expo, Comic Festival. And probably there were good comic artists and cartoonist even then. However, I am struck by a feeling if not this year is a little extra good quality. Where the highest level is simply at a little higher level. I could be completely wrong. But it is the experience I get.
I am a professional artist, illustrator, designer and enjoy to walk around and see what colleagues have done, hobbyist and professionals. And what is going on in the world of swedish comics. Both those who like myself has it as a full time profession, and those who might just have started out. It is inspiring. And the vast majority are talking to me. They say hi. They are communicative. And there were some quick, spontaneous and interesting meetings. I even get a nice quick meeting with the Swedish association for illustrators & Designers big chief Jenny Lindahl Persson, Executive Director. She remembers my name. You could almost believe that she is American. For those who do not know, Americans are incredibly good at remembering names! Personally, I’m too bad at names, but faces – that’s my thing.
Lisa Harald & Viktor Engholm
Two of the first I get the opportunity to talk a little with about comics, publishers and easy to read literature, and see their own works are Lisa Harald and Viktor Engholm. Two really nice people to talk with. Lisa Harald shows a book, an anthology she is included in. A book about female love and her own comic – and has a really neat business card, with a exquisite cartoon images. Victor shows including his own series of comic books published by the Argasso publishing House . And since I have illustrated several easy to read literature for children and young people, it is natural that I got caught by his comic book. And we exchange ideas and tips on creating them.
Lisa Harald website>
Viktor Engholm website>
Laura Lohikoski, Johan Jonsson Lars Johansson were three comic creators I also met at the comic festival, who shared a table. They were easy and pleasant to talk comics with – and talking vegan chocolate cake which Laura had recipes & baking tips on. Lars J’S “Overman”, Laura L.’s “The nerd thats me”, and Johan J’s fantasy, the Viking series “Jon”. After a number of tables I passed, I am struck by all fanzine´s available. As it should on a comic festival. But I am strucked also by how many who could push up more real books. Instead of color inkjet copies. Printing books at Swedish printing companies, and in the very small, tiny, quantities self publishing comic creator does, will be terrible expensive. But there are cheaper alternatives. And many, such as a Laura Lohikoskis comics, to take just one example, should get their own printed book. Even Swedish publishing houses often print their books abroad, in countries around the borders of Sweden, such as Poland and the Baltics. And then we have the Swedish publishing houses horror Amazon with its “CreateSpace” , which is perfect for “Self Publishing”. POD, Print on demand as it is also called. But then again, after all, everyone has a budget to stay within. Nothing’s for free just because it is cheaper elsewhere. But there are alternatives. There are even swedish POD´s.
Laura Lohikoski website>
Johan Jönsson Website>
Lars Johansson Website>
Very close their table is now my friend and comic-illustrator colleague Irma Eriksson from New Jersay, USA, now living in Stockholm. She has very nice looking and quality printed books and posters, in smaller quantities. A presentable table and easy for visitors to stop by and see her works “Imy The Comic”. Walking around at a trade show with many people and many impressions, easily takes on ones strength. It’s nice to just be able to land and chat a while. Irma confirms that she will soon go to London to participate in the London Comic Con. If it’s not raining, and the sun is shining in London, she’ll have a great trip to London Comicon. I envy the journey and experience. One day I might have the opportunity to participate yourself at Comic Con.
Pagina is a Swedish publisher I personally always associated with the computer books. Therefore, it is especially satisfying to discover that they have published their first comic book “Theos Occult Curiosities”. Two happy chaps I thought to write, and they were just that after all. Two cheerful and people skilled cartoonists, comic artists, who together created the comic Theos Occult curiosities. When I later go on to the website I see that I am not wrong – they are happy! All photos they published show that. But, but, they are also great artists and has made what appears to be a really nice comic series to dive into. I didnt have time to going through the cimc so much at the festival (comic con), but do it for yourselves if you have the opportunity. Well drawn comics iare always fun to land in.
GASPARD publishes SISTERS, now in Sweden!
Gaspards website >
New French comics are back in Sweden – as it should be. Thank Gaspard for that.
For all of us who grew up with Belgian and French comics, the comic book series “Sisters” should be a fun and exciting acquaintance, if you’re buying comics for children and young people. It is always refreshing to read and make discoveries in the Belgian and French comic tradition. Yes, everyone wants to draw manga today or fantasy, or superheroes, but French & Belgique comics is something that, among other things influenced me immensely when I was little and as a young teenager. The style to draw and the subject matters.
Everyone out of some sort of self-respect, in my own subjective opinion, should at one point in their life read the science fiction comic Linda and Valentin, who also made a huge impact as an inspiration, to the original Star Wars movies. And the Smurfs, Asterix and Obelix, Lucky Luke, Gaston! and so on. Gaspards Sisters for children and young people can become a new exciting journey.
The deaf in history
Before I finished the visit for the day, and to ride home on my bike, and make a stop at a local café to write this blog article, I turn once again past a table. What a fun surprise. The Comic graphic novel “Book of the Deaf in history” by deaf comic artist Viktor Jäderlund have a good story to tell, that of the Deaf an their history, and is well drawn. Viktor also has a stylish business cards. I like the sleek design and stylish business cards, hence I mention this now for the second time. There is something more cartoonists at the show should look at. Many simply didnt have business cards. I myself realized the business card’s impact already as a 20 year old, when I missed a sale of an oil painting to an art collector on the train from the Stockholm international art fair. All the thousands of people leaving the art fair, heading with the train back into town, when we whent off the train on the plattform, meant that we missed each other. And thus a possible sale of one of my paintings. So give yourselves business cards people! And have them always at hand. Although you might just get ti give away a card once a year. It may be just that time you need it. Dont leave the house without it.
Viktor Jäderlund proved to be an interesting person. It was a quick meeting while more visitors wanted his attention. Thanks to Viktor had a sign language interpreter/friend with him, who made it possible for us to talk to each other. I had earlier in the day noticed one of the book’s cover and drawing style, and thanks for the interpreter’s help, i could hear his thoughts and ideas about the book, and have it explained.
Also, by flipping pages through the book I immediately learn new things about deaf and their history. A book everyone should read, even hearing people.
Viktor Jäderlund website>
A good Comics festival (comic con), the Seriefestivalen in Stockholm Sweden. Fun and inspiring meetings. Go there you too next time!
Illustrator, graphic designer, artist