The joy of comics in Leipzig

We paid a visit to the Millionaires Club comics and posters festival and Leipzig Book Fair in Leipzig, Germany. millionaires club festival leipzig The Millionaires Club was organised for the first time last year by the local art scene. It is run on a voluntary and collective basis, with no one producer or leader. Comics artist and organiser Max Baitinger was able to chat with me for a moment during the setting up. max baitinger “Last year we organised everything on our own and this year we were able to get some state funding, too.” Galerie KUB hosts various events, such as exhibitions and performance festivals. The alternative-minded Millionaires Club exhibits both comics and poster art and happens simultaneously with the large Leipzig Book Fair. “It has been nice to see that visitors have found their way here from the book fair”, tells Max. “I’ve found inspiration from other festivals abroad – events such as the Helsinki Comics Festival where I visited for the first time four years ago.” Max also took part in the CUNE Comics-in-Residence programme in Helsinki last year. He spent a month in the Finnish capital and our Comics Center published his book Heimdall in Finnish. millionaires club leipzig festival In Helsinki Max also met members of the Kutikuti comics collective. Now Roope Eronen and Jarno Latva-Nikkola were hanging up a Kutikuti exhibition on the walls of the wooden cabin at Galerie KUB’s yard. roope eronen jarno latva-nikkola

Roope and Jarno in a festive mood.

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At the opening party the Finns were asked “do you guys bring that house along everywhere you go?” Oh, sure we do!

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Our comics were of much interest to the festival visitors – especially all the most colourful and experimental publications. Maura Manninen organised the sales.

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When the books were out, our booth turned into an improvised comic strip workshop.

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Sascha Hommer ran the panel discussion on Comic Atlas Finnland and Finnish comics.

Leipziger Buchmesse

The sheer scale of the Leipzig Book Fair took us by surpris. The fair consisted of five large exhibit halls – one of which was dedicated to a convention of manga comics. Manga is big business here.

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Other comic books and graphic novels used to be place at the same hall with manga, but now they were situated with other literature. Reprodukt, the Berlin-based publisher of Comic Atlas Finnland, was also present.

Finland will be the theme country of the Frankfurt Book Fair in autumn 2014. The massive fair will be the meeting place of all of Europe’s publishing professionals. Finnland. Cool. was also the name of the game here, with big promotion events of Finnish literature and also comics. comics finnland.cool. leipziger buchmesse leipzig fili finnland.cool. iris schwanck

The project director of FILI Finnland.Cool. project, Iris Schwanck tells about Finnish literature, Moomins and comics. We appreciate the tricky job of the simultaneous interpreter!

Christian Maiwald from Reprodukt interviewed us and told about his own experiences of Finnish comics. “I’ve found that there doesn’t seem to really be a mainstream in Finnish comics. Experimental stuff like yours seems to be popular.” buchmesse comics sarjakuva panel roope eronen ville tietäväinen aino sutinen christian maiwald

Christian Maiwald, Ville Tietäväinen, Aino Sutinen and Roope Eronen.

It turned out that my live drawing slot would be at a stage in the manga hall. What to draw for an audience of cosplaying young people? I drew a series of Victorian costumes and underwear. Roope had drawn audience’s requests.

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Even the small press section was large.

The German literary culture is different from ours and people are willing to pay well to come and experience literary events. Also Lesungs, live readings are popular at festivals and fairs. ville tietäväinen unsichtbare hände

Avant-Verlag published Ville Tietäväinen’s Invisible Hands in German.

CUNE residency in Leipzig

Art student and comics artist Ella Eiranto had arrived in Leipzig to work on her art for a month through the CUNE Comics-in-Residence residency programme. ella eiranto Ella has hung her originals up on the walls. She is utilising a huge, light studio at an old redbrick building at the artistic Spinnerei district. There seems to be enough space for making comics! ella eiranto cune comics-in-residence

Ella also resides in the studio. “At first I had trouble sleeping at night due to the amount of light, but then I got used to it.”

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eiranto ella lia studios comics-in-residence leipzig eiranto-sarjis eiranto ella sarjakuva She is now working on a longer, dystopic short story which partly takes place in Leipzig. “The LIA studios has been a wonderful place to work. I feel that Leipzig is the best place to be a comics artist at the moment – there is so much grassroots action going on.”

Full video of panel discussion at Leipziger Buchmesse (in English)

Text: Aino Sutinen Photos: Aino Sutinen, Ville Manninen

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Aino Sutinen

Aino Sutinen is a comics artist and Press Officer at the Finnish Comics Society.
fili suomen sarjakuvaseura © Finnish Comics Society 2017