Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary
















Home > Bart Beaty's Conversational Euro-Comics

Conversational Euro-Comics: Bart Beaty On Kolor Klimax
posted November 17, 2011
 

image

By Bart Beaty

In the comics stores that I visit, and in my own collection, there seems to be no doubt that the comics anthology is an endangered species. A hallmark of alternative and independent tendencies in comics since the days of Zap, Arcade and RAW, the anthology is going the way of the dodo as more young artists (in particular) find new ways of creating names for themselves -- especially on the web. For myself, I'm increasingly reluctant to pick up an anthology when I know that the best work in it will eventually find its way into my hands through other means if I'm patient. Yet in abandoning the anthology, we run the risk of sidelining an entire generation of artists working in comics cultures that lack the sheer number of outlets for exposure that are now so widely available. Who, for instance, would note the immense talents currently exploding across northern Europe were it not for the fact that Fantagraphics will release an anthology of those works in April of next year?

I spent a few days in Odense, Denmark last month, and one of the key takeaways from that experience was an advance copy of Kolor Klimax, a thick collection of comics from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland edited by Matthias Wivel and forthcoming from those fine folks in Seattle. Seemingly inspired by the size and shape of Kramers Ergot -- and sharing some of the same graphic tendencies on the inside -- Kolor Klimax is a head-turning compilation of new graphic tendencies by emerging and well-established Scandanavian artists. If at times the "something for everyone" tendency causes the book to lose some of its focus, it is clear nonetheless that any reader is going to be astounded by some of the amazing works that were heretofore sheltered from them.

The 250-page book features the work more than twenty cartoonists. A few of these will be known to discerning comics readers: the amazing Jenni Rope is represented here with a two-part story that is as hauntingly poetic as anything she has ever produced; Tommi Musturi's wordless "Samuel" is also presented in multiple parts; Amanda Vahamaki, published by Drawn and Quarterly, offers some beautiful pages in pencil without inks; Joanna Hellgren, increasingly well-known in France, and Ville Ranta, an award nominee at Angouleme last year, offer comics that highlight their particular strengths; and Joakim Pirinen, now one of the grand old men of Swedish comics, holds down the fort for the previous generation.

image

That said, there are a number of great pieces here by cartoonists who are considerably less well known outside of their local scenes. I was particularly struck by the work of Rui Tenreiro, which is reminiscent of CF or Anders Nilsen. I will be seeking out his two books from Jippi. Johan Krarup's devastating piece, "Nostalgia," about a meeting with a pop culture collector going through a traumatic divorce, might be the best thing in the book. If it's not, another contender for that title would be the piece by writer Gitte Broeng and artist Mikkel Damsbo. Damsbo, an architect by training, brings a true craftsman's eye to a highly formalist piece of work that recalls Richard McGuire. Thomas Thorhauge's parodic treatment of what this site calls the Danish Cartoons Hangover -- a stylistic departure for this talented artist -- is likely to be a hit with many readers, and concludes the book on a humorous note.

Ultimately, there is no way not to recommend Kolor Klimax. It showcases a wide range of extremely talented cartoonists, and will open your eyes to a whole world of comics that get far too little attention. Something to anticipate for Spring.

*****

* Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now, Edited By Matthias Wivel, Fantagraphics, 250 pages, 9781606995204 (ISBN13), April 2012, $29.99.

*****

* not the final cover, but the placeholder that Fantagraphics is using
* two pieces of art from the book (one below)

*****

To learn more about Dr. Beaty, or to contact him, try here.

Those interested in buying comics talked about in Bart Beaty's articles might try here.

*****

image

*****
*****