The Finnish Comics Society brings its culture export and collaboration events to Germany and Europe’s German-speaking countries. The series of events beginning this autumn culminates in October 2014 at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where Finland is the official theme country. Germany is also the theme country of the Helsinki Comics Festival 2014.
– There are many interesting things going on in Germany at the moment. Comics in general are booming, the field is expanding and the sales growing. Even the most marginal of things can grow to big proportions at such a broad language area, tells Kalle Hakkola, director of the Finnish Comics Society.
– Even though the German comics culture is still light years away from French speaking Europe, the gap is constantly narrowing. Interesting new things are being created, and there is no such historic baggage in the comics culture as in the French-speaking world.
Marko Turunen’s work at the Stichprobe exhibition in Berlin.
Comics are also being increasingly translated at the German-speaking area. At first, the translations were mostly classics, later on other things as well. The readers are increasingly becoming interested also in Finnish artists.
Reprodukt, which has grown from an alternative to a medium sized publishing house, will publish the Comic-Atlas Finnland 2014 anthology in January. The artists are primarily chosen by Reprodukt’s publisher/artist Sascha Hommer , with consultation from Finnish Comics Society.
–Our export efforts are not limited to the anthology. We will also promote many other artists throughout the year. Of course, we can’t have a say on what the German publishing houses will decide to publish. However, our hopes are up that in the near future, four or five Finnish book might be published in German.
Hanneriina Moisseinen’s work.
Hakkola has noticed that especially seriously themed, brick-sized graphic novels are a big hit in Germany right now.
There are many upcoming events in the Finnish-German comics export year, including the ongoing comics exhibition at the Finnish Institute of Germany in Berlin, Pop-up Comics Centre in Switzerland’s Fumetto festival, the book fair and comics festival in Leipzig, Erlangen comics festival and Frankfurt Book Fair.
Mari Ahokoivu’s work.
The Stichprobe exhibition of Finnish comics was opened in the Finnish Institute of Germany 14th of November. The artists of the Berlin exhibition are Mari Ahokoivu, Hanneriina Moisseinen, Petteri Tikkanen and Marko Turunen.
The works of Ahokoivu and Moisseinen search for the artistic limits of the comics format, whereas the approaches of Turunen and Tikkanen are more traditional. All of the artists brought at least two types of works and approaches to the exhibition. The exhibition includes things such as drawings and paintings on walls, cloths, shadows and animation.
Comic-Atlas Finnland 2014 will be published at the finishing party of the Stichprobe exhibition.
Kalle Hakkola and the artists at the Stichprobe launch party.
Black Peider playing with Marko Turunen drawing live.
Interview: Aino Sutinen
Translations: Matleena Kantola
Photos: Petteri Tikkanen, Mari Ahokoivu, Lauri Peltonen
The Stichprobe exhibition is open 14.11.13–5.2.14, Finnland-Institut, Georgenstr. 24, 10117 Berlin
More information in German here.
In September the Finnish Comics Museum project coordinator Laura Kokko and the regional artist Solja Järvenpää from the Finnish Arts Promotion Center visited Belgium and its comics collections. More specifically, the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels and the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve. As well as being the capital of the European Union, Brussels is as also one of the world’s leading cities in comics. Numerous comic book shops, museums and exhibitions are inherent in the Brussels cityscape and events.
Brussels has more than 50 comic murals and you can find comics everywhere in the city.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center is located in the centre of Brussels in a magnificent art nouveau building. The director, Willem De Graeve, and the collection manager of original documents, Nathalie Geirnaert, presented us the exhibitions, activities, as well as their art collections. There were a number of exhibitions at the same time in the centre, the space of which is spread over three floors.
Permanent exhibitions displayed the history of comics beginning from the cave paintings. They also introduced the creative processes, genres, forms, history and pioneers of Belgian comics, as well as the history of the building itself. The temporary exhibition was from the American legend Will Eisner and his Spirit comic strip. In addition, the Gallery space presents temporary exhibitions of new releases. The Comic Strip Center also has an excellent research library, a shop, a restaurant, an auditorium and a great hall.
The collections of The Belgian Comic Strip Center include around 7000 works of original art from four hundred artists, mostly Belgian. At the moment, the center does not take in any new materials, but focuses on the collection work and transferring the data to the new collection database. Collection manager Geirnaert presented us the collection facilities, as well as cataloging and digitizing equipment.
The purpose of our trip was to share information and good practice involving comics cataloging and preservation processes. We found similarities with the Finnish Comics Museum project and got a lot of useful information that we can use in our collection and exhibition process.
There is plenty to see and to experience in the comic center for both kids, tourists and professional comics researchers.
A short train ride from Brussels, a huge museum is dedicated to the artist Georges Remi, Hergé, the creator of Tintin. The museum has permanent exhibitions on three floors and the ground floor is for temporary exhibitions, restaurant, shop and other public spaces. Luckily, a lot of materials were left behind from Hergé: more than 80 original plates, 800 photographs, documents and objects. The exhibition is cleverly built and uses some interesting solutions for displaying the comics materials and combining historical references and fiction. The audio guide is also excellent. The museum offers endless exploration for Tintin fans, fun functional sections for younger visitors and resting spots with videos and music.
Photography is only allowed in the atrium, so no photos from inside the exhibition.
Our excursion was part of the Finnish Comics Museum project to build an international network of comic museums, archives and libraries and to connect with the professionals abroad. It is also important to meet colleagues and get inspiration from the best comic collections and exhibitions in the world. Next up, we’ll visit the Storm P. Museum in Copenhagen and take part at the Swedish Comics Archive’s 10 year anniversary conference in Lund.
Text: Laura Kokko
Photos: Laura Kokko, Solja Järvenpää
See the text in Finnish + more photos in the Finnish Comics Museum blog.
The international program is supported by Frame Visual Art Finland.
Finnish Comics Museum project: http://sarjakuvamuseo.fi/in-english.html
MOOF-Museum of Original Figurines together with the Finnish Comics Society cordially invite you to the official opening of the exhibition “La Bande Dessinée Finlandaise 2013” at
MOOF –Museum of Original Figurines, Galerie Horta, 116 rue Marché-aux-Herbes, Brussels
November 19th, 2013, 18.30 – 21.30
At this occasion, the Finnish comics’ artist Amanda Vähämäki will present two original pieces.
The exhibition is based on the anthology of the same name, which is the third installment in the Finnish Comics Annual series which showcase the most interesting Finnish contemporary artists. The exhibition, just like the anthology, features the work of 13 Finnish female artists and will be displayed at the Museum until February 17th, 2014.
The event also celebrates the publication of culture and comics magazine Zone 5300‘s special Finland issue. Edited by artist Marcel Rujters, the issue focuses especially on the forerunners of Finnish comics art.
We warmly welcome you and are looking forward to meeting you on November 19th.
The exhibition and the event are supported by the Finnish Literature Exchange and the Finnish Embassy in Belgium. Zone 5300 has also received support from FILI, Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux and dKC Rotterdam.
If you want to know more about Finnish comics, please visit our blog.
And of course, like us on Facebook to get all the news!
I have never been a huge fan of comics. The only comics I read are the French-speaking classics: Tintin, Lucky Luke and Astérix et Obélix. I still remember my French teacher in junior high who told us that we should read “real” books. She did not mean comics because that’s the sort of books she thought were for children. If in addition to that, you acknowledge my frustration caused by my inability to draw anything (not even a flower), you get why comics have never been my favorite thing. It just seemed unreachable somehow.
I needed 25 years (my official age) and the willingness to learn Finnish to rediscover the joy of reading comics.
My current internship at the Comics Center in Helsinki guides me through exciting adventures. And if I had to describe this world in three words, I would say that it is strange, profound and feminine.
Strange, you say?
Finnish people have a vivid imagination (we owe them all those weird sports such as women carrying, mobile phone throwing or mosquito killing). So it is not a surprise that comics authors are very creative. As writing and selling comics cannot make the ends meet, why should they bother and not follow their artistic crazyness?
Travel in the philosophic paths where Tommi Musturi is your guide. His world can seem childish, but his comics are more complex than that. Get lost in the Matti Hagelberg’s world where an industrial, sometimes Middle-Age-like atmosphere is waiting for you.
This touch of oddness, added to a world that looks like ours, makes Finnish comics absurd and hilarious.
Finnish comics do not let themselves apprehend easily. You need time, patience and… a lot of imagination to follow authors’ artistic wildness.
I took a dive in comics when I started reading in Finnish. I thought “OK, not much text. Easy.”
There are a lot of references that I miss completely.
Let’s take the example of Fingerpori, comics published daily in the largest Finnish newspaper. Three or four panels, straight-to-the-point drawings. That will certainly help for my Finnish! Not exactly, as I realized that Pertti Jarla, the author, loves word plays.
And I don’t know the words.
(nowadays, my success rate is about 1 out of 10 comics that I can understand. I see an improvement here.)
Second example: Samuelin matkassa by Tommi Musturi. No speech balloon, no speech, no text. Only colors, vivid colors. Easy.
I had to read it several times before seeing the beginning of an understanding of where the author wanted me to go.
Women women women
They had a great impact on Finnish comics as they made it evolve. Female authors were the first ones to try new techniques, like knitted comics by Hanneriina Moisseinen, new publication channels such as the Internet and new genres, like autobiographic comics. After criticizing them harshly, male authors finally joined the movement.
Favourite topics: anything related around women in the society or in the family, but also relationships between generations, love, sickness, ageing.
By using certain clichés to go beyond them in the end, female comics artists always end up with a powerful story. In We are not born perfect women (translated from On ne naît pas femme parfaite), Kati Rapia stages a young lady who wants to show to her boyfriend that she changed and stopped complaining about him. What makes it interesting is the originality the author puts into it: the young lady is represented as the perfect housewife, wiping away the smallest negative comment she might have against him. But it’s not worth trying to change somebody as in the end, she forgets to take away the “You didn’t bring me flowers?!”.
Even though certain topics are not particularly joyful, with their subtlety and creativity, stories written by women are never melodramatic. Just like Kaisa Leka and her work I am not these feet, where she talks about her amputation without making it dramatic.
To sum it up, jump into Finnish comics! It is a breath of fresh air!
I am Sophie, from France. I love Finland and recommend Finnish comics!
Text: Sophie Bourguignon
Photo: Sakari Sivonen
Hôpital Brut 7
(Le Dernier Cri, 2006)
Hôpital Brut 8
(Le Dernier Cri, 2007)
(Le Dernier Cri, 2000)
(Le Dernier Cri, 2003)
Hôpital Brut, numéros 4, 5, 6 et 7
(Le Dernier Cri, 2000-2006)
My uncle wanted to be a gardener
(Bête Noire 1/2005, Fantagraphics, 2005)
(Le Dernier Cri, 2007)
Robocop of the piss factory visit kungfu bingo
(Le Dernier Cri, 2008)
Tout est dans le cochon 3: Suuri rakkauskirja, le grand livre d’amour
(édité en Français en Finlande par Like, 2006)
BD@fi la BD et la technologie moderne
(édité en Français en Finlande par Aktinen Banaani & Sarjakuvantekijät ry, 2001)
Katja Tukiainen Works
(édité en Français en Finlande par Daada, 2007)
Tout est dans le cochon 4: Huvipuisto epäkunnossa, Adieu au doudou
(édité en Français en Finlande par Like, 2007)