Archive for February, 2016

Review: Den sommaren

Den sommarenDen sommaren by Mariko Tamaki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful graphic novel, with lavish blue-tinted images. But even if I can lose myself in the pictures for ever, it´s the story that captivates.

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Portrait: By the great Per Åhlin.

Portrait by the great Per Åhlin.

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On stage with childhood hero Per Åhlin!

On stage with childhood hero Per Åhlin!

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Mailbag: Catching up on my reading in preparation for nominating to the Urhunden Award.

Mailbag: Catching up on my reading in preparation for nominating to the Urhunden Award.

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Review: Lektioner i mord

Lektioner i mordLektioner i mord by Henrik Lange
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An entertaining book for those of us who have read a Swedish crime novels, or seen a version on TV, which should by now include most of the world’s population … This is a variation on Lange’s winning concept to summarise novels and movies in three very concise panels, and the book also contains a number of these patented short versions of classic Swedish crime novels. Most of the book consists, however, of a tongue in cheek look at the genre, with an overview of all the clichés you have to use as well as advice on how to build a career as a writer of detective novels, including advice to always include food in the stories so that you can then write the obligatory cooking book, participate in cooking programs on TV and so on.

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Review: När David tappade rösten

När David tappade röstenNär David tappade rösten by Judith Vanistendael
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful graphic novel about dying of cancer, not a heroic fight and win over the decease, but actually dying from it. We follow David who learns that he has throat cancer, his adult daughter who recently had a baby, his new young wife and their young daughter – and see how the disease unfolds from different perspectives. It’s beautiful, sad and poignant – and very well told. Despite the topic, it never gets sugary sweet, and the images are evocative and very personal in style.

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Review: Vandrande stjärnor del 2

Vandrande stjärnor del 2Vandrande stjärnor del 2 by Lars Krantz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lars Krantz is likely THE most different and artistically interesting Swedish comics artist working right now. This second and final part of his epic Vandrande stjärnor (Wandering stars) is incredibly beautiful with its well-composed images, pages and spreads with black and white flowing back and forth, crawlingly frightening in a way that gives you an empty feeling on your stomach after reading it, and intellectually challenging with visual cues high and low – from today’s popular culture to the Bible, and everything in between.

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Mailbag: Today’s haul. Sometimes the postman actually does ring twice.

Mailbag: Today's haul. Sometimes the postman actually does ring twice.

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Review: Find Me In This City

Find Me In This CityFind Me In This City by Mari Ahokoivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mari Ahokoivu is fast becoming one of my favourite Nordic comics artists. No sooner had I reviewed her beautiful children’s comic Sanni & Jonas: Vinternatt, than this book pops up; published almost simultaneously, which is a feat as there are not that many Finnish comics published in Sweden these days.

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Review: Tack och förlåt

Tack och förlåtTack och förlåt by Fanny Agazzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fanny Agazzi makes her book debut with a graphic novel of how it is to have a close friend dying abruptly and way too early in life. The story is autobiographical and woven into the story of how her friend Nabil passed away and the mental breakdown that followed are other recurring themes such as trying to get pregnant despite a number of failures,attempts to function socially and keep a job.

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Ok, so maybe I’m obsessing a bit much about this book…

Ok, so maybe I'm obsessing a bit much about this book...

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Review: Frisörbesöket

FrisörbesöketFrisörbesöket by Claes Jurander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Claes Jurander is an unusual fish in the Swedish comics pond. Art Professor, sculptor, animator and creator of what is probably the first Swedish graphic novel (Nilsson, 1974). That Jurander is a fine artist is also reflected in the comic books he creates (which, incidentally, seems to have occurred with intervals of about one or two decades), in that they are more like picture books for adults, with sparse captions below each image.

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Review: Det kunde varit jag

Det kunde varit jagDet kunde varit jag by Sara Olausson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This really is a book that touches it’s reader. No-one in Sweden at least will have missed out on the fact that comics artist Sara Olausson has a burning commitment to changing the fate of an EU migrant/beggar that she has befriended. They have both appeared in virtually all Swedish media these last few years, in a deliberate campaign by Olausson to generate a debate and raise interest, both for general issues of poverty, EU migrants and the situation of the Roma, as for the specific fate of Felicia.

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Mailbag: Weighty additions to the Stromberg library

Mailbag: Weighty additions to the Stromberg library

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The Strombergs 2013

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Every year, my wife Hanna creates a Christmas card featuring our ever growing family, drawn in the style of some famous comics artist. For new years, she also draws a one-page cartoon about the year that has passed and what we have experienced. The latter has been on hiatus for a while now, since we’ve had two kids in three years, but now she’s picking up where she left off, and right now you can see her comic about the year 2013, in the style of the Norwegian Frode Øverli’s Pondus.

Oh la la!

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Review: Det är inte meningen att man ska vara här

Det är inte meningen att man ska vara härDet är inte meningen att man ska vara här by Thomas Olsson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thomas Olsson made his debut in the mid noughts with the satirical strip Rogert. 2013 came the graphic novel Församlingen (The Congregation), about growing up in a fundamentalist Christian environment. Olsson’s latest graphic novel, Det är inte meningen att man ska vara här (We are not supposed to be here), is a claustrophobic reconstruction in comics form of the much talked about Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage in the mid-1800s. To make the story more humanly accessible, it is here presented from the point of view of a young ship´s boy’s point of view (piquantly enough, also named Thomas).

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Review: Blå är den varmaste färgen

Blå är den varmaste färgenBlå är den varmaste färgen by Julie Maroh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book that I looked forward to reading, not least after it won the Audience award in Angoulême a few years ago. And maybe I had set my hopes too high, for I was not as smitten as I expected to be. Sure, it’s a strong story and I was really touched by several scenes, but at the same time the history feels a bit too predictable as if it was written after a preset schedule where the author checks the right boxes along the way. And the relationships are also a little too stereotypical for my taste. The end felt slightly rushed, and the long jump in time that takes place does not feel completely justified. Even the pictures feels a bit tentative, but this at least fits the story of this insecure teenager.

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The Swedish master of horror comics, Lars Krantz, talking about his new exhibition.

The Swedish master of horror comics, Lars Krantz, talking about his new exhibition.

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Ola Skogäng in the Swedish booth.

Ola Skogäng in the Swedish booth.

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One of many things I’m proud of from this year’s Angoulême project: the bag with art by Liv Strömquist, made to provoke the French audience.

One of many things I'm proud of from this year's Angoulême project: the bag with art by Liv Strömquist, made to provoke the French audience.

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