Once again, international gentleman Paul Gravett has asked a bunch of international critics and writers about comics to talk a little about the comics of the year from their respective countries. I participated along with representatives from Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Sweden, offering a selection of what I think are the best Danish comics of 2010. I’ve reproduced the text here, but check out the entirety of the list at Gravett’s site.
Without question the most significant Danish comic of 2010 is from 1984. Published with a delay 26 years, Peter Kielland’s Suicide Joe is a lost classic of the Danish underground. 20 oversized pages of dark mayhem following an Artist and his struggles with ART, MONEY, LIFE, DEATH, SEX, as the crassly rendered, punked-out pages proclaim it to the world in their Babel of tongues (everyone should be able to read and understand). Kielland is one of the godfathers of the current new wave in Danish comics, and this is as emphatic and compelling a manifesto of young art as one could wish for. Its publication in today’s drastically different comics landscape is, in a way, serendipitous in that it reminds the young graphic novelists not to rest on their laurels, but rather to write with ambition.
Prominent in this new generation, Christoffer Zieler is responsible for the other major Danish release of the year. Stejl Fart (“Steep Speed”) is a collection of his eponymous single-panel (though occasionally also sequential) cartoons as published for the last few years on his website (some of it in English!) and, for a while, in the weekly Weekendavisen. Zieler is intellectually curious and couples a dry wit with a wry knack for exposing the moral shortcomings and social foibles of his times. His rendering, though somewhat slick, is animated by an odd gnarlyness and sense of pictorial timing that renders his gags, in a word, hilarious.
The 676 Imprint
Edited by Steffen Maarup
Lastly, in 2010 Danish comics waved goodbye to one of its most fertile publication platforms, Aben Maler’s 676 series. Editor Steffen Maarup decided it was time to try something else and closed down this series of 22-page minicomics, in which a remarkably varied range of cartoonists and illustrators have published some of the most inspiring Danish work of the last few years. This year saw strong contributions to the series from Johan F. Krarup, Philip Ytournel, Mikkel Sommer, Ina Korneliussen and, again, Peter Kielland—this time with a brand new comic, appropriately entitled Happy End. The 676 series has been a revitalising force on a small comics scene prone to apathy. It will be missed.
And for those interested, here’s the list for 2009.