September 15, 2016
I’m having an exhibition at CUK Imago in Beograd, Friday Sep 23, starting at 19!
As far as I understand, there will also be a couple of other exhibitions (Great Libertine Comics, Unobserved) at the same place, and also live music (Feberdröm, Nike Eyes).
It’s all part, of course, of the NOVO DOBA festival.
It’ll be a mix of prints, mostly Wormgod stuff, and a painting or two. And my books will be there, we’ll all be drunk, it’ll be great!
Also, don’t miss the Myling exhibition this Friday (Sep 16, 18-22) at Hybriden. Original drawings by Yossra El Said, Ida Mårdhed will read from Amanda Casanellas‘ short story, we’ll all be drunk, it’ll be great!
September 9, 2016
Came back from the Helsinki comics festival that took place last weekend with the realisation that I have a lot of different books and there might be a point in making some sort of presentation to clarify what’s what.
So I wrote this (by the way, I should mention that I am currently unemployed and am available for work as artist/writer/comics creator):
You can find a more complete list of my comics-related (and otherwise) work at my main website, www.elftorp.com. Here I want to talk a bit about how I look at what I’ve done so far.
I go to a couple of different comics festivals, in various countries, over a year to sell my own books and the ones I work with as a publisher etc. And as the list keeps growing, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should make it a bit easier to navigate the books, understand what’s more and less representative of what i do in general, and so on. Because my approach to the different books vary a bit.
By the way, you can buy all these books at the CBK webshop. Please do, I need money.
So let’s start with what I see as my main work, Piracy is Liberation. This is my big project. Over a period of around 10 years, I made 11 books in the series, later collected in two big volumes. The plan is not to do the small ones anymore, but rather make two more books before the series is finished. In total, it will be similar in length to a 75-issue series in the US standard of publishing. So I’m more or less half-way through the series.
This is the story where I’m building a world inhabited by characters who evolve over time, with a story-arc that will deal with various topics that are important to me on its way to an epic conclusion. Elements of this story can of course be read as allegorical, but it’s also a work of fiction where you should be able empathise with the characters and follow their personal development as well as the evolution of the world they live in. In some ways, their world is very similar to ours (on a more and less symbolic level), in other ways it is its own thing.
(Most, but not all, of these covers were made by Susanne Johansson.)
But I also tell other stories that are shorter. Maybe some of them will grow later, I have some plans for sequels, but so far there are no major story arcs stretching over a whole series of books. These are what I would say the two main works of that kind:
The Troll started out as a 24-hour comic but grew into a vehicle to talk about more philosophical topics, about the nature of reality and the small part of it that we can even begin to comprehend. It’s not really based in science fact, even though it’s heavily inspired by things related to astrophysics/quantum/string theory and such things. I’m mostly having fun with it, running with ideas that are extrapolated from established facts on the verge of the unknown. With some elements of magic and psychology and horror thrown in. For example, I present a theory about what consciousness is, where each person’s memries and self-image is part of a multidimensional web of experiences from different levels of the multiverse. You have to read the story to get the whole explanation, but you get the idea. At the same time it’s a story about two persons meeting in extraordinary circumstances. So if that mix of things sounds appealing to you, then this book is for you. Some of the concepts come from, or are related to, the concept of metamagic that I use in Piracy is Liberation, and I think many of the more philosophical issues will overlap between the two series, especially if I make a sequel the The Troll. Which I plan to do at some point.
Well, it’s actually more of a critique of Swedish migration policies, based on a mix of stories and experiences. I explore the nationalist elements of integration/assimilation and try to focus on the human elements of an inhumane situation. I guess this is the book that’s more likely to land me in a nice cozy camp somewhere in the future. After all, it becomes clear that I don’t buy the rhetoric that there is one specific “Swedishness” that everyone living here should fit into.
I’ve also seen at least a handful of people cry while reading this book, which gives me great pleasure. I mean it makes me really proud.
Transgressions is an attempt to tell a challenging short (36 pgs) story about various ways to transgress written and unwritten rules and boundaries, from gender to national borders to sexuality to laws of physics. I’m not trying to be offensive, but I am trying to break a lot of social/mental conventions with this book. And also to have fun and be serious while doing it. So if you like that kind of thing, or that kind of music for that matter (Feberdröm made the soundtrack), this is for you. It’s at the same time some kind of compressed version of the sensibilities I express in the aforementioned works, since it touches on subjects such as national borders (as in Me & my Daddy & Zlatan), different levels of reality (as in The Troll) and gender/sexual identity (which is also something that is part of Piracy is Liberation, even if I approach it in a very different way there).
After the ends of the world is even more compressed, as most of the “stories” there are only 1 page or even a half. They’re more like distilled ideas, short presentation of concepts, postapocalyptic visions as the title implies. There are also a few longer stories by me, but no more than a few pages. This book is not just me, but also some contributions by the rest of Wormgod, Susanne Johansson and Heidi Somero.
So that’s a bunch of books with stories ranging from half a page to ca 1600 pages. But over the years I’ve also made a lot of short stories for various anthologies. These are more random. Mostly made either for a specific context or just to experiment with storytelling. Since we started C’est Bon/CBK in 2001, I’ve been using that anthology (currently called CBA) to now and then do something different. Stories between 5-15 pages just to try something, explore an idea without inserting it into a bigger story, etc. For a time, I also edited a title called Dystopia that was also an outlet for shorter stuff. Then there are the stories I made for festival anthologies such as Novo Doba or AltCom. And other anthologies.
I’ve collected a bunch of these short stories in the first volume of A Subtle Fuck You. Maybe one day when I have the money and enough material that fits together (more or less) I will make a second volume.
I wouldn’t recommend this collection to someone who hasn’t read any of my other stuff, since it’s so disparate and random, but see it more as bonus material. Short stories can be fun, but it’s hard to fit a lot of content into just a few pages.
And, to finish, there are also the Angry Animals/Arg Kanin comics. A mix of extended strip comics and political rants. Usually one or a few pages long, with this angry rabbit character going off on rants about some current topic. Usually in Swedish, but also sometimes in English. This is where you find the most concrete, least subtle stuff, which can sometimes be a very welcome release.
So now you have some kind of introduction to what I do. If this sounds interesting to you, you can buy my books at the CBK webshop. And if you’ve read the whole thing, maybe you have some idea of where to start…
I should also mention that I’ve made some stories where I only wrote the script and someone else made the art, which is another experience that can create very nice results.
One such book is Bekele (written with Raquel Lozano, drawn by Emre Özdamarlar), another one is En Andra Chans (drawn by Shko Askari, planned for release in late 2016/early 2017). These both fall into the same category as Me & my Daddy & Zlatan, so if you’re into semi-fictional depictions of the current (or almost current since we’re moving fast downhill) situation in migration politics in Sweden, these are for you.
August 11, 2016
So my medicine-themed(?) exhibition Vasta-aine is going on right now and during all of August at the Oulun Sarjakuvakeskus (Oulu Comics Centre) in Oulu, Finland. I’ll be present there during next week, especially on the 18th, with books etc.
Here are some samples. I took the first two pages of each of the three comics that are included in the exhibition.
Fragments (will be published in Alkom’X #9 & (probably) CBAvol36):
Medication (published in Komikaze #42, will be published in CBAvol35 & Alkom’X #9):
Happiness (published in Workburger & AltCom 2016 WORK anthology):
August 5, 2016
The AltCom experience of 2016 is over, as much as something like this is ever over, because when a festival like this is at its best, it lingers in your soul/mind/5D construct.
We actually managed to create this separate plane of existence. A space that is its own thing and when it’s over it’s like you’re going back home, even if you already live in the same city. And when I say “we”, I don’t mean me, I don’t mean the organizers or volonteers, I mean all of us who took part in it. The guests/exhibitors/musicians/visitors. The smokers and drinkers. The ones who woke up, went to the festival and stayed until they passed out or went home (sometimes when the morning sun had come out and the birds started singing, sometimes when the wine was over, sometimes when it was just the right time to go). The ones who arrived late at night, the ones who left early. This international family that’s made up of people you almost only meet in these liminal existences. These special relationships with people you meet a few times a year, in different parts of the world, that you consider to be friends even if you hardly know most of them in any deeper sense.
It started with the preparty sessions where a few of us sat down with some wine after putting up exhibitions, discussing anything from printing techniques to working conditions to drug culture to Pokémon Go to the effect the internet has on communication and on underground and zine culture. Then it all grew as the actual festival started. People meeting, inspiring each other, giving birth to new collaborations, extending invitations to future events, other worlds to visit in the future. An intersection of pasts, present and futures.
Many of us will meet again, because this part of the comics culture is borderless by nature and part of a network of recurring aquaintances, but we may never meet again in this exact same constellation of people.
And then there’s the story of the lost luggage that arrived just in time for the Saturday afterparty so we could complete the exhibition a few hours before it closed, the stolen items, the missed flight, the missing guest, like an offering to the god of Branquignole. Maybe the price to pay for everything else running more or less smoothly. Sleep was another casualty, but what are you gonna do?
So thank you to everyone who came, who let people stay in their homes, who participated, volunteered, carried tables, held talks/performances/workshops, who brought their art or simply their presence. For an AltCom festival that became something beyond the sum of its parts. Not unlike the language/artform of comics itself.
July 25, 2016
As you may have noticed, a lot of my life has circulated around AltCom this last time.
I would like to tell you all about it in an engaging way that really makes you understand why you should come, like all the exhibitions, parties, filmprogram, talks & workshops and the comics market and the free book that you can find all over the festival. But I simply don’t have time, so instead I’ll just send you to the festival’s website, which by now is almost completed with all the information you might need:
Hope to see you there!
July 14, 2016
The AltCom festival anthology arrived from the printer yesterday!
It’s a 100 page book with comics relating to WORK by an assortment of international artists and it will be given away for free before, during and after the festival. Some of the featured artists will also be present at the festival.
Read more about it here.
The festival takes place July 28-31 in Malmö. See you there!
July 6, 2016
Maybe something else will be added, but these are the main & exhibition posters för AltCom 2016. Read more about everything here!
July 3, 2016
Back from CRACKLAND, putting the preparations for AltCom 2016 into high gear (is that the expression? I never learned to drive a car and my bikes usually didn’t have any gears).
Most of the posters are finished, most of the program is set, most of the tables are booked, but there is still a lot of space for additions and changes, so it’s going to be a couple of interesting weeks until it all starts…
To start the month and also to put the festival in a bigger context, here’s a little thing I wrote on the site the other day:
So we just came back from the CRACK! festival in Rome, which is more or less the hub/parent/sibling of the European(+) scene for underground/alternative/DIY/art comics & temporary art. The festival gathers hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors under the same roof, or actually in the tunnels under the same fort.
CRACK! is the great inspiration for AltCom and many others, even if the conditions very from country to country. For example, the squatting culture in Italy and Sweden are completely different. If you try to occupy an empty building to turn it into a social centre in Sweden, you will have to deal with a massive police assault on you almost directly. No such squat in Sweden has lasted more than a few months in recent years, and even that is extremely rare. It’s more likely that you will be back on the street within hours. Whereas Forte Prenestino (the social centre where CRACK! is held) celebrates its 30th anniversary as a squat this year.
On the other hand, Malmö is a friendly city and it’s possible to cooperate with a lot of venues (like Folkets Park, Panora, Mitt Möllan and others during the previous AltComs) without having to spend all of your budget just to find a place to have the festival’s exhibitions, comics market, etc.
On the other hand, Sweden is kind of expensive compared to other countries (though Malmö is cheap for Sweden), if not as expensive as Norway or Switzerland, so it comes with some other issues that we need to handle when organizing our event. We compensate by keeping as many parts as possible of the festival free of charge, like tables, entrance fees, festival anthology…
An important aspect of AltCom is that even if the comics fair is an important part of it, since it gives small press publishers and artists the opportunity to sell their books and the public the opportunity to buy them, we focus a lot on the social aspect.
That’s why we start the festival off with a two-day exhibition opening for several exhibitions at once, gathered in the same place. It creates a meeting ground for artists from different parts of the world, to show their stuff, to talk, to drink together and make new plans for the future, as well as meet a public that get the chance to experience something new.
The CRACK! festival is truly a seed for a future that may come, a seed that may be part of creating an atmosphere based on participation, mutual respect, creativity and boundless exchange. And that’s what we also try to be with AltCom, even if we are in Sweden and don’t have a huge squatted-since 30-years fort.
This seed is already bearing fruit. Weeds are cropping up in various places taking different forms, such as:
AFA (Autoproduzioni Fichissime Anderground) Milano (ITA)
Combat Comics Livorno (ITA)
Ratatà Macerata (ITA)
Ca.Co.FEST Bari (ITA)
BORDA Fest – Produzioni Sotterranee Lucca (ITA)
PICS Pescara Intergalactic Comics Show Pescara (ITA)
F.OFF Angoulême (FRA)
Tenderete Valencia (ESP)
Gutter Fest Barcelona (ESP)
Vendetta Marseille (FRA)
PRINTNOIZE Berlin (GER)
Ohoho Festival Zagreb (CRO)
NOVO DOBA Beograd (SRB)
ŠKVER! Art Project Mali Lošinj (CRO)
Fijuk network (Balkans/International)
and of course AltCom and probably many more…
June 17, 2016
So next week is another CRACK! festival, that orgasm of creative underground madness that comes every year, like an internationalist family reunion.
And in the midst of everything else, I’m trying to produce something new. I didn’t have as much time for this as I had hoped, but here’s something at least that I painted the other day and will make some different versions of…
And then it’s going back home for the finishing run of the AltCom festival. But a lot of that is already under contol. Most of the program is set, most of the posters have been designed, most of the films are confirmed, and the anthology is now at the printer.
So it all feels good, and the extra shot of inspiration that is CRACK! won’t hurt either…
June 14, 2016
Sooner or later, all you see around you will have turned to dust. You will be dead as a doornail and then all of this will disperse.
It’s not completely unlikely that the expansion of the universe will one day have gone far enough that the smallest particles can’t interact even at the speed of light because they are too far apart. By then, the concept of “day” will be long gone. Text will be meaningless, because even if this sentence would be spread out over a bigger area than the now observable universe, no one could see it because no one would be close enough that its light could ever reach them because everything will be too far apart (and keep expanding faster than light could keep up) for light to reach anything.
So let’s spend the precious time we have being greedy, racist, homophobic etc assholes, why don’t we?
Because that makes sense…