My first book in Arabic (& Swedish) is officially released by Tusen Serier next week, April 12!

I wrote the story a few years ago, and it’s finally finished and printed and ready for reading.

The whole thing started when one of the artists associated with Tusen Serier, Yousif Akar, asked if I’d want to write a script for him to draw. I thought it sounded fun, but all I knew was that it was supposed to be in Swedish and Arabic, and I just had no idea what it was going to be about. Until one day, on the train between Stockholm/Malmö(?), when I realised that I’d have to deal with the fact that you read the two languages from different directions.

From that point, the story more or less wrote itself. It turned into two stories, told in each direction, revolving around the same situation but with different main characters, that meet in the middle.

Then Yousif dropped out of the project because of reasons, and through the help of magician (etc) Stefan Eriksson, I got in contact with Shko Askari, who became the new artist of the book, which turned out really nicely. And here it is, now.

An Iraqi doctor is on his way to work in Baghdad when a car bomb is detonated just outside the hospital. He starts treating the victims, but there are some people who think that certain victims are less deserving than others.
/
A Swedish student gets an email from a long lost migrated relative in the US. He wants to come visit her in Malmö.

Those are the starts of the two stories. I don’t want to risk spoiling anything by telling you more than that.

Anyway, you can order the book through the CBK webshop.

BLEED – paintings

January 27, 2017

My paintings from last year’s BLEED exhibition (by CBK/Tusen Serier):

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The exhibition was made for the release of CBAvol35.

You can see more exhibition photos at Tusen Serier, samples from the book at CBK where you can also order it.
Please do; CBK desperately needs money (crowdfunding thing coming up soon) and it’s a really good issue.

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January 11, 2017

I think I’m just drawing now because I should really work on some applications and/or a few different books and/or a crowdfunding campaign and/or an information folder and all of it is unpaid work but it needs to be done and no one else is doing it (because they can’t or won’t or just don’t) and I just need to smell the pens and I want to have lunch (yeah I know it’s 7 in what I think some of you call “morning” but I’ve only been up for 12 hours and isn’t that when you’re supposed to have lunch and watch a movie?) and continue watching Kurosawa movies or play Limbo or Inside on the PS4 but I still have too much to do and I guess this blog post may be some kind of cry for help or just a moment’s distraction.

And it’s still too early to turn up the volume because the neighbors may still be asleep and I know it’s not nice to wake them.

And I actually feel quite ok and not too stressed-out if it wasn’t for my nagging suspicion that I will have to get out of bed around noon tomorrow and that’s around the time when I usually fall asleep these days.

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Edit: It turns out I won’t have to be anywhere until 17 on Thursday, so I can relax a bit after all. Yaay.

New year, new plans. Here are a few mentions of future stuff…

UPCOMING GRAPHIC NOVELS:
En Andra Chans (Tusen Serier) by me and Shko Askari
Sagor från Angered (working title) (Tusen Serier & Blå Stället) by me, Amanda Casanellas & Segal Mohammed
Piracy is Liberation v03 (Wormgod) IF I can only find the time for this, it’d definitely be about time to finally be able to continue this story…

EXHIBITIONS:
Cool Cykel (Tusen Serier presents Tanja Komadina) in February
I don’t want to dream (CBK presents Spyros Verykios and CBAvol36) in May

MORE BOOKS:
Berättelser om Yunnan – minnen från kulturrevolutionen (Tusen Serier) by Emei Burell
CBAvol36: In the pits of madness (CBK) with me as main editor, really excited about this one…
CBAvol37: Fragments (CBK)

FESTIVALS:
I’ll probably be going to the usual ones, maybe something new, we’ll see (preliminary dates)…
Copenhagen Comix (Feb)
SIS (May)
CRACK! (Jun)
Helsinki (Sep)
Novo Doba (Oct)

+ VARIOUS OTHER STUFF
It’s too early to tell yet, but we have some big plans for Hybriden. More news when we know if they will actually happen…

Death to 2016…

December 31, 2016

2016 ends and it’s time for a summation. I could comment on the new migration laws, on the ongoing/invigorated persecution of undocumented as well as beggars, the seeming rise of general stupidity, the steady decline of hope as species are going extinct at a rate we haven’t seen since the last ice age, various mad-people in power, abuses perpetrated by various states etc etc (I could also talk about celebrity deaths but why?). But I’m probably going to keep this personal and up-beat(?).

So here are some things I made/was involved in during the year. Mostly unpaid work as usual, which I’m getting increasingly tired of, but what are you going to do? Up-beat, was it? Right. Ok. This is me when I’m unemployed:

COMICS:
The Troll actually came out in the end of 2015, but it was still new when this year started, and it was also my only solo book, so I still feel that it counts.
I had some other plans for upcoming solo books, but none of them have turned into reality. Yet…

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Publication-wise when it comes to my own comics, this has been more of an anthology year, with some comics being published in several places:
Viral was drawn in 2015 but published this year in CBAvol30.
Medication, published in CBAvol35: BLEED, Komikaze #42 (web) and #15 (paper) and possibly Alkom’x #9
Idle hands & recreation in CBAvol34: Re: Creation and idleness  and possibly Alkom’x #9
Fragments will be in CBAvol37 and possibly Alkom’x #9
Arg Kanin om Samma gamla visa in Asylkalendern 2017.

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I sent some of these stories to some other places as well so they may turn up in more places in the future…

ASSOCIATIONS:
Some big steps forward were taken for both Tusen Serier and CBK. Both associations broke some ties with the Swedish Comics Association this year, which feels nice for various reasons that shall remain untold for now. It meant that CBK left the Comics Centre in the Mazetti building where we had been since 2005. Tusen Serier also finished the last project period that was run through the Comics Association. Both of these things lead up to both groups moving together and starting our new exhibition/store/studio/library/storage space Hybriden. We officially opened in March but it definitely feels like we’ve been there for more than a year… The new space also brought a brand-new webshop with it into existence.

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CBK also started to get its shit together with the release of CBAvol30: A new hope, which was the first volume made/compiled completely by the new editorial crew. We also published our last graphic novel issue, CBAvol33: Repeat Offenders by Julia Scott, and 3 more anthologies.

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FESTIVALS:
There was of course the AltCom 2016 festival, themed WORK. In many ways it felt like it was the best AltCom so far. We managed to create our own pocket universe during those few days in the end of July.

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Also visited some other festivals/events (not as many as planned, but enough):
SIS, CRACK!, Oulu art night, Novo Doba, Örebro.

EXHIBITIONS:
Vasta-Aine was an exhibition at the Oulu Comics Centre, featuring 3 of my recent comics, Medication, Fragments and Happiness.
-I had an exhibition at the CUK Imago in Belgrade during Novo Doba, with some of my old Wormgod prints and some original paintings.
-And, also during Novo Doba, I painted a mural at the Zemun-based cultural centre Matrijaršija.
-The BLEED group exhibition at Hybriden, organized by CBK and Kinga Dukaj, was the coolest exhibition I’ve been a part of for a long while. I made three paintings for this exhibition that took place in the midst of a seriel killer’s murder scene, walls and ceiling covered with plastic sheets, blood (most of it fake) spattered everywhere, special music by Feberdröm

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MORE BOOKS:
Tusen Serier released a batch of new books this year:
Fem historier om prostituerande by Amalia Alvarez
Myling by Amanda Casanellas & Yossra El Said
Mapuche by Jorge Varas Varilla
Void by Susanne Johansson (published in cooperation with Wormgod)
Cool Cykel by Tanja Komadina

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THE ANGERED THING:
In November I took over from Amanda Casanellas who was there in October as the Tusen Serier residence artist at Konstepidemin in Gothenburg, a special residency that they had in cooperation with Blå Stället in Angered. During one month I could (mostly) concentrate on one thing instead of a hundred, which was probably quite healthy. I took some breaks to be at the BLEED exhibition and the Örebro festival, but still managed to draw 55 pages based on Amanda’s ideas, which were based on stories from Angered. Urban legends, folk tales, local mythology which we will work into a story to be published at some point during 2017…

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LIKE TEARS IN RAIN:
There were probably some more things that might be worth mentioning, some short comics, illustrations, book covers, maybe some project or other, but I simply can’t remember everything and I’m too lazy to look it up.

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So I’m going to leave you with a (surprisingly long) list of stuff I’ve watched/played/read in the sessions of downtime squeezed in between all the rest. It’s not all from this year, because only idiots think that there’s no past. And yes, these are just from the top of my head, things I recommend that happened to not slip my mind:

PS3/4:
DMC | Beyond: Two Souls | Enslaved | Alice 2 | The Last Guardian (finally!) | Shadow of the Beast (worthy remake of childhood nostalgia) | Life is strange (just started but seems promising)

TV SERIES (the most noteworthy new discoveries / steady classics):
South ParkRick & MortyWestworld | Crazy Head | The OA | Orphan Black | Preacher | Daredevil | Jessica Jones | Luke Cage | Doctor Who (even if there was only one new episodes)

FILMS:
Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen (Kitano is back!) | Sausage Party(!) | Maps to the stars | Lamerica | He never died | Extracted | Mr Six | Batman v Superman (Martha?!) | May Allah bless France | M. Butterfly | Borgman | The Lobster | High-Rise | Schizopolis | Kontroll | The Witch | Urge | Upstream Color | GhostbustersVanishing Waves (ok, I saw this in 2015, but still worth mentioning) | + of course the MCU stuff…

COMICS:
Low | The Wicked + the Divine | Supreme Blue Rose | Starve | Punk Rock Jesus | Empty Zone | Monstress | (all of) Hellblazer | Deadenders | Bitch Planet | Velvet | New Lone Wolf & Cub | Lazarus | Saga | Nameless | Injection | Caliban | Blackgas | Stormwatch (Ellis) | Animal Man (finally caught up on Morrison’s run)| Trees | Deadly Class | Miracleman | Annihilator | + caught up on the X-books up until Secret Wars

BOOKS:
Woman on the edge of time by Marge Piercy | The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin

Yeah, regular books take me a long time, so 2 in one year is unusually good.

LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH:
Hope you found something interesting that you might have otherwise missed in these lists, and enjoy the last few hours of the year…

New HD illustrations…

December 24, 2016

It doesn’t seem to be available online, which is too bad because I liked the story, but today’s HD (Helsingborgs Dagblad) featured a novella that I illustrated. Here are some of the drawings I made:

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Paintings

October 2, 2016

PAIN THINGS (not really pain, but you know, fun)!

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Various works from the Novo Doba festival of 2016…

Clarification

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 (Tusen Serier / Wormgod / CBK). 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.

wormgodbook023piracyv01 wormgodbook024piracyv02So 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:

wormgodbook027thetroll 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.

zlatancvr-2edbooks-zlatan-eng0Then there’s Me & my Daddy & Zlatan. This one is a stand-alone story where I try to put a human face on something that a lot of people seem to be afraid of nowadays: the immigrant.

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.

transgressionscvrwormgodbook026afterTransgressions and After the ends of the world are similar in that they both come with soundtracks in the range of industrial – noise (from experimental to harsh noise walls).

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.

wormgodbook016asfu1So 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.

djurmana05And, 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.

Swedish cover...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.

/Mattias

POSTERS!

July 6, 2016

Maybe something else will be added, but these are the main & exhibition posters för AltCom 2016. Read more about everything here!

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Vasta-aine

May 31, 2016

I’m having an exhibition called Vasta-aine (Antidote) at the Comics Centre in Oulu, Finland, in August!

What I will show is two of my recent (unpublished) comics and one a bit older:
Medication (made for CBAvol35)
Fragments (made for CBAvol36)
Happiness (from Workburger and the upcoming AltCom 2016: WORK anthology)

As far as I can remember (which isn’t always reliable, I have to admit), this will be my first solo exhibition in Finland.

It will go on during all of August, and at the same place (but a different room) there will also be a simultaneous exhibition with Tommi Musturi, which is bound to be interesting.

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So if you’re in Oulu in August, drop by and have a look!
I won’t be there for the opening, but I will visit Oulu a bit later in August…