From our intercontinetal correspondent: The “Summer of Love” at the Swedish Small Press Expo
Regular readers will know how much we love the work coming out from independent presses and creators (an incredibly rich and inventive seam we should all be looking more at) and how we also like to hear about interesting new comics work being created in other countries. Today those both come together in this report on the recent Swedish Small Press Expo which comes courtesy of Chris Staros from the very fine indy publisher Top Shelf. Chris has actually posted this up on the TS site but has kindly shared it with us (thanks, Chris) because he thinks this is an event and a part of the European comics scene which is burgeoning right now and which deserves a higher international profile. I’ve got to say it isn’t a scene I knew much about at all so I’m grateful to Chris for telling us a bit about what sounds like a really happening time for comics creators in Sweden and for the news that Top Shelf will be issuing an English language anthology of Swedish work this autumn, so we can all get a chance to check out some of the works. Over to Chris:
The relationship between the Swedish and American alternative comics scenes got a lot stronger a few weeks ago at the 10th Annual Swedish Small Press Expo (SPX) held at the famous and opulent Kulturhuset – Sweden’s “House of Culture” in the heart of gorgeous downtown Stockholm.
(Stockholm’s Kulturhuset, the cultural venue for the 10th Annual Swedish Small Press Expo, photos courtesy Chris Staros)
I was lucky to be invited as a guest of both the convention and the publishing house Ordfront/Galago, as this September Top Shelf will be distributing From the Shadow of the Northern Lights, the first ever all-English anthology of Swedish alternative comics. Galago, the publishing imprint/anthology that has showcased Swedish alternative cartoonists for over 30 (!) years, thought it would be good for me to check out the comics scene in Sweden and meet the cartoonists featured in Northern Lights. And I am so glad I did!
The efforts of all the Swedish publishers, creators, and especially the convention organizer, Kristiina Kolehmainen – who incidentally is the head of the Swedish Comics Library (Serieteket) and who has run the Swedish SPX since the beginning – coalesced this year’s convention into something quite remarkable: a true ” Summer of Love ” of the Swedish comics community. With a couple thousand comics fans, a hundred Swedish creators/exhibitors and a dozen Scandinavian independent press publishers all putting out intensely personal and literary works, the Swedish SPX has developed into one of the most important comics events in the EU – on par with the indy scenes in the U.S. and France. And from the mood on the floor and at the cool parties held each night, I personally witnessed an amazing amount of energy and goodwill between the cartoonists and fans, who realize that the Swedish comics scene is – after years of hard work – finally in full bloom.
(cover to Galago issue #92, borrowed from the Galago site)
In any event, next April Top Shelf will head back to the Swedish SPX, bringing along Jeffrey Brown and debuting Niklas Asker’s Second Thoughts – the first of several excellent Swedish cartoonists that we’ll be taking on.
And, by the way, a dozen Swedish creators told me they’d be visiting MoCCA this June, and the crew from Galago told me that they’d be coming to the American SPX this October to help showcase From the Shadow of the Northern Lights. Let’s be sure to welcome them in the States as much as they welcomed me over there.
(the international language of comics – we know this is SPX in Sweden but it’s a scene anyone who’s been to a good comics con anywhere in the world would recognise)
A special thanks to Johannes Klenell, the Editor at Galago, who set up the entire trip for me and was my guide throughout Sweden the entire week. Also a big thanks to my other host, Fredrik Strömberg, the Director of the prestigious comics school in Malmo. I journeyed there and spoke to their talented students as well. And finally a big thank you to Anders, Asa, David, Federico, Fredrik, Ingemar, Jakob, Jamil, Jan-Erik, Jessica, Johannes, Kim, Knut, Kolbeinn, Kristiina, Liv, Loka, Markus, Martin, Mats, Mattias, Melika, Niklas, Ola, Rolf, Simon, Sofia, Steffan, Stina, Ulli, Victor and everyone else who made my stay in Sweden so special.
FPI would like to thank Chris Staros and the Top Shelf team again for allowing us to reproduce this article; From the Shadow of the Northern Lights, the English-language anthology of Swedish comics work will be published by Top Shelf in September.