Comic artist, graphic designer and architect Ville Tietäväinen (born in 1970) has published only a few books but is without a doubt one of the most influential Finnish comic artists at the moment. His latest graphic novel Näkymättömät kädet (Invisible Hands, 2011) has been a cross-over success.
Näkymättömät kädet tells the story of Rashid, an illegal Moroccan immigrant who embarks on a dangerous journey to provide better life for his family. The hardworking yet gullible protagonist survives the dangers of the Mediterranean only to land in southern Spain, whose countless greenhouses are in constant need of workers who will accept low pay and poor conditions.
With its over 200 pages and and heavy subject matter, Näkymättömät kädet is not an easy work to absorb. It is social commentary on the world of the 21st century, where tomatoes in supermarkets appear flawless but are sour with the sweat and tears of nameless have-nots. For most people, the illegal aliens of Almeria’s plantations do not exist.
A work of this magnitude was not born without effort. Tietäväinen initially studied the subject from books but felt that first-hand experience was needed to tell the story. Together with anthropologist Marko Juntunen Tietäväinen travelled to Morocco and Spain to learn about the phenomenon. Determined to get every detail right, it took Tietäväinen several years to finish Näkymättömät kädet.
Tietäväinen’s previous graphic novel, the Hong Kong-situated Linnut ja meret (The Birds and the Seas, 2003) is a tale of forbidden love and stiff social structures. As with Näkymättömät kädet, Tietäväinen conducted extensive research for the authenticity of the story and its surroundings.
Since the working process of Tietäväinen is thorough and relatively slow, it may take years to receive his next full-length graphic novel. Whether or not the public ever gets another Näkymättömät kädet, Tietäväinen has already left a lasting mark.
Unsichtbare Hände (2014)
Vain pahaa unta (2013, with Aino Tietäväinen)
Näkymättömät kädet (2011)
Linnut ja meret (2003)
Hymyilevä kuu (1995, with Harri Hannula)
Des oiseaux, des mers (2005)