Magnus Engström made his debut in 2011 with the graphic novel Luftspår (Air Track), an experimental detective story with existential dimensions. Skuggfärd (Shadow Road) is a kind of sequel, in the sense that it once again contains a detective/thriller story used as a tool to discuss other issues, in this case, what happens after death.
Charlie Christensen is back with the twelfth collection of the cult comic Arne Anka. These volumes are nowadays only partly collections of the short comics that Christensen makes for a Swedish newspaper, which as always contain satirical comments about our time, presented as a dialogue between the main protagonist and his friends as they stumble from bar to bar. Most of the book, however, contains a longer stand-alone comic made especially for this book. This time Christensen addresses the terrorist attacks that has shook the world in the last few years, and in particular the attack against Charlie Hebdo, and how we react to these threats. This difficult question is discussed from a philosophical perspective and a large part of the comic is set in Europe in the 15th century, where the operations of the Inquisition are contrasted with what is happening now. An interesting contribution to the debate on freedom of expression, by a master of comic art. This should really be translated into other languages, as it deserves a larger audience.
When it got this new graphic novel by Max Andersson, actually the first since Pixy, which was published an astonishing 25 years ago, I was really elated. For me Pixy was one of the major eye openers to the potential of comics and I have followed Andersson’s career ever since. But he has mostly created shorter comics, and though highly interesting, not quite matching the more epic qualities of Pixy. So, it was with some trepidation that I took on reading The Excavation, although I had read some of these comics before, in various publication including the comic book Death and Candy.
As per tradition, I have chosen and presented what I think were the best Swedish graphic novels from last year, for the international summing up of the year at Paul Gravett’s webpage. This year, I chose three very different books, which just goes to show how varied the Swedish comics culture has become.
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.
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.
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).