Sunday, February 27, 2011

Creative Influences: Sweden

These are authors/ illustrators that I grew up reading. I do not necessarily emulate any of their styles, at least not consciously, but they still have a creative influence over me and my work, I think.

First up: Tove Jansson, Finnish writer and illustrator, creator of the Mumin series. She wrote novels as well as shorter works, and illustrated everything herself. The books look like children's books, but like Dr. Seuss' books (perhaps even more, in her case), the themes addressed are definitely those of adult life. Her style is unique, but tinged with a characteristically Scandinavian melancholy. When a TV series was born of the books, Japanese animators worked to stay true to Tove Jansson's style.

Mumin has recently become more popular in America.
Mumin, the main character.
The Groke (or MĂ„rran as she's called in Swedish) is my favorite character.

The character Tooticki (in the striped shirt and green cap) is based on Tove Jansson's life partner, graphic artist Tuulikki PietilÀ. The series is also available in English (and many other languages besides--it was originally in Finnish, but I grew up with the Swedish version).

Second on the board: Pettson by Sven Nordqvist. Also a series of children's books, written and illustrated by the author. Most of the books are whimsical, little stories of Swedish farm life haunted by a sort of magic realism, sort of like Gabriel Garcia Marquez' books. Pettson is a bachelor living on a farm with his cat Findus and several chickens. His neighbors think he's a little mad, but he simply has his own way of doing things.

The illustrations, in ink and watercolor, are lavish and always filled with silly details--little creatures inhabiting drawers and holes in the walls, the cows in the paintings on the walls moving about from page to page, etc.

This page is in German, but clearly Nordqvist's style.

Third is Bamse, by Rune Andreasson. This is actually a children's comic that is still running today. It started in the 1960s but became its own comic book in the 1970s. It was also a TV series for a while, I watched it occasionally.

The text reads, "Bamse, the world's strongest bear."

 An original cover by Rune Andreasson.

I'll post scans of some of my own old comics (the oldest I have is 1992) in another post.

Included in this list is Pingu, thought technically it is not Swedish/ Scandinavian at all. It is a Swiss claymation TV series with no real dialogue. I'm including it in this list mostly because we watched it on the Swedish television at home (the VCR was a different region than the one used for our Disney VHS', and so warranted a separate TV).

I still make those noises sometimes. Only my sister really knows what I'm talking about when I do.

Next time I'll name some more recent influences like Lemony Snicket and the few manga I actually still read.

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