06 May 2018

Ett elitistiskt pris som splittrar seriebranschen



TL;DR: Urhunden suger och borde kraftigt reformeras eller läggas ner.

Igår steg jag upp på Studionscenen på SIS i Kulturhuset i Stockholm och rev sönder det diplom som hade mitt namn och gavs till mig för nominering (för tredje året i rad) till Unghunden för främjande av barn och ungdomsserier. Min handling följs här av en förklaring och mitt officiella statement.

Urhunden, som delas ut av en autonom jury med kopplingar till Seriefrämjandet, har existerat sedan 90-talet. Den tituleras av en del som "Sveriges främsta seriepris" men är ett skamfullt skämt till sådant, vars funktion söndrar seriekommunityt och bygger onödig rivalitet mellan grupper i vår bransch som inte borde se varandra som konkurrenter.

Vi är många som länge kännt att detta pris är en fars, som inte ser eller bekräftar de ansträngningar vi gör och de verk vi skapar enbart för att vi inte valt en naivistisk teckningsstil eller ett självbiografiskt tema. Inget ont om de som gör, jag är själv ett stort fan, men då Urhundens jury med år av allt för lika val av pristagare gjort det hela till en enkel gissningslek så har priset snarare skapat en likriktning i såväl utgivning som det som av en hel del utanför seriemarknaden uppfattas som "svenska serier". Exempel: den katalog som Kulturrådet producerade till Angoulême-mässan 2015, vilken uteslutande valt ut ett axplock av Galagos tecknare som representanter för Sveriges hela seriekultur. Och vi alla vet ju att det är en grav missrepresentation.

Det som varje år viskas i de kretsar jag hänger i bland serieskapare med fiktion, fantastik, skräck, komedi som genrer och semirealism eller manga som stilistiska manér, är att det åter igen var " the usual suspects" som fick nomineringar och pris. Även om några av oss med jämna mellanrum får medverka i nomineringslistorna så vet vi att loppet är redan vunnet av den där självbiografiska serien om en problemfylld barndom.

Förstå mig rätt, jag uppskattar dessa serier. Inga av de som vunnit Urhunden har inte förtjänat priset. Men att ställa deras mot en fantasy- eller skräckserie eller en komisk manga är som att jämföra äpplen med gurkor. Det är absurt. Att dessutom en liten klick personer ska bedömma detta helt på egen smak är rätt så förlegat och elitistiskt. I min mening känns juryn som en grupp personer som nästan uteslutande är äldre seriefantaster som inte själva skapar serier och därför vill hålla sig i svängen och behålla lite makt över en bransch i kraftig föryngringsprocess (med tanke på att det idag på de olika serieskolorna i landet examineras ca 70-100 nya unga tecknare varje år!).

Det hela resulterar i ett pris som känns överflödigt och irrelevant för majoriteten av Seriesverige. Ett pris som bara ett fåtal har något personligt intresse i, där en liten jury och några få tecknare och förläggare likt apor plockar varandras loppor, medan vi andra står och tittar på och känner oss lite äcklade av denna nepotistiska dans. Och utanför allt, i verkligheten, existerar ändå inte ens priset i vanliga människors medvetande över huvud taget. Trots sina dryga 30 år på nacken är priset i stort sett okänt utanför den lilla elitistiska serieklicken som högtidligt tystnar när juryn på scen presenterar sin favvislista.

Sedan har vi alltså Unghunden. Priset för insatser för barn- och ungdomsserier. Detta pris är alltså inte till ett verk, utan ges till en person, som därefter är diskad från alla andra priser så vida hen inte börjar göra naivistiskt ritade och självbiografiska serier eller något annat av det snäva seriefokus som juryn har. Det är ett "här får du ett pris, sen får du aldrig mer något pris"-pris, hur mycket fantastiskt man än gör. Exempel: Johan Unenge, som fick Unghunden på 90-talet och gjort så mycket för barnserierna sedan dess. (Tack, Johan, för din passion!) Att Unghunden inte utvecklats till ett pris där specifika barn- och ungdomsserieverk får nomineringar och priser (var för sig såklart) visar på att intresset (eller kompetensen) inom juryn inte legat i att främja barnserier över huvud taget. Som förläggare finns det ju knappt någon morrot, bara lite tråkig blast i form av en möjlig nominering eller pris, som sedan följs av att ens fortsatta ansträngningar efter mottaget diplom ignoreras.

Om man tar sig en titt på de som fått pris och nominerats till pris för bästa originalsvenska serieverk sedan starten (över 100 titlar), är det ett annat pinsamt faktum som görs klart; endast ett par titlar av kreatörer med icke nordeuropeiska namn. Som "andra generationens invandrare" känner jag att detta är en tydlig signal i sig. En signal som verkligen inte hjälper att varken bredda och diversifiera seriebranschen eller att skapa en inbjudande och uppskattande miljö för de av oss som inte heter -sson eller -qvist. Nu sitter nog juryn och himlar med ögonen och suckar att etnicitet ska ju inte påverka kvalitétsgranskningen. Men se, där stöter vi på ett problem. Om detta pris nu ska vara ett av landets viktigaste seriepriser, så måste det också ta sitt ansvar. I en så vit bransch som våran är etnicitet visst det otroligt viktigt i vad som premieras, lyfts fram och ges uppskattning. Vill vi ha en Zlatan-effekt i vår bransch så måste vi låta "invandrarkids" vara med och sparka boll. Och det görs bäst genom att priser som Urhunden lyfter fram sådana kreatörer och uppmärksammar förlagen på att det finns poäng att tjäna in på att inte bara ge ut vita personers berättelser.

Kontentan av detta kritiska blogginlägg är att jag (och flera av mina vänner) önskar se förändring omgående. Antingen en kraftig reformering av hela priset, eller lägg ner skiten. Kanske börja om på nytt? Dags att Seriefrämjandet släpper sin hand från detta elitistiska projekt och startar ett nytt pris med helt andra premisser: fler kategorier (inklusive separata priser för barnserier och ungdomsserier så att dessa börjar blomstra igen!). Och speciellt då priset faktiskt inte ger några prispengar borde inte antalet prisvinnare spela någon som helst roll. Utöver det måste juryn förändras, breddas och utökas så att den bättre representerar alla delar av vår otroligt breda seriekultur. Kanske även omröstningar som är vägledande eller lyfter ett verk, så att läsarnas röster också får höras.

Eller döp om Urhunden till "Självbiografiska seriepriset", så är vi nöjda. Men kom inte och påstå att det i sin nuvarande form på något sätt är rättvist eller rimligt.

13 April 2018

Report from Leipzig Manga-Comic-Con 2018

Some weeks ago, I visited one of Germany's biggest comics event, Leipzig Manga-Comic-Con, which has since a couple of years ago been a part of the huuuge Leipzig Book Fair in the middle/end of March. The German manga scene has grown steadily for the past two decades and dominates the comics part of the fair. Here's my report from the event and as always I include some cool artists I met there and tips for you who might think of going there to sell your own comics and art!


This is the map for the enormous Leipziger Messe. 
The comics and manga part was in one of the five halls. The rest is the book fair...!



Inbetween the halls was a glass hallway which was so big I bet you could fit a commercial airline in there, or two. This was where a lot of the food courts where and naturally the cosplayers too because of the sunlight, good for photos!


Here's a part of the MCC hall. So many people!

Now I want to show you the German manga publishers. Lets start with the three biggest: Carlsen Manga, Egmont Manga and Tokyopop




These three manga publishers is behind the majority of the manga that is published in Germany. All of them also have their own German manga artists, whom are seen as an asset to their publishers as they have their own big fanbases and the publishers own the International rights and can sell licenses for their mangas. This was clearly show as both Egmont Manga showed of Niloo's debut manga Mein erste Mal and Tokyopop showed off Anna Backhausen and Sophie Shönhammer's manga Sternen sammler

Two publishers with roots in other countries that has established themselves on the German manga market: Panini Comics from Italy and Kazé Manga from France. 



Both of these only publish imported Japanese manga and don't publish German artists, yet. Panini Comics also publishes other comics besides manga.


Among the newer publishers are Pyramond, focusing on Non-Japanese manga and comics by Non-Japanese artists but with a Japanese aesthetical inspiration, and it is going very well! Another proof that that the German manga market have matured enough so that the prejudice about who can and can not make manga is irrelevant.
Pyramond is also my publisher of my mangas Sword Princess Amaltea and Mjau!.  

Altraverse is a new publisher with the former Tokyopop chief editor Joachim Kaps at the wheel, focusing on importing Japanese manga. 


There are also several smaller publishers, mostly aimed at self-publishing or certain themes (a lot of BL at some of them). Here's some:


Delfinium Prints, publisher of David Füleki's seinen mangas.


Schwarzer Turm, selling mostly German made comics, not just manga.

Several manga and comic artists had their own booths at the fair, so let me introduce you to some of them:


Désirée Kunstmann and Nana Yaa, two amazing manga artists mostly self-publishing but also published with publishers. Désirée at Delfinium Prints and Nana at Tokyopop. Nana is also part of the American Tokyopop initiative "International Women of Manga" that I'm also a part of.


CKJohnson and Sabrina Ehnert, two super talented illustrators. Sabrina's  children's book Friedwalds grose Reise was of course in my bag on the way home. Signed. 


The twins Gin Zarbo and Ban Zarbo, super cool and skilled manga artists and also part of Tokyopop's "International Women of Manga" with Nana and I.


German-Japanese Mikiko Ponczeck, now living in London (I met her at last years London Comic Con too). She makes a living drawing manga full time, partly thanks to her webcomics on Tapas

One part of the fair is called MCC Kreativ, and this is their Artist Alley. A bit cheaper than a booth.




One of the super cool artists I met in the MCC Kreativ is PearsFears, who also make webcomics. Mostly BL, which is super popular in Germany, so she was not alone. 


In the middle of the comics and manga part of Leipzig MCC, this stage was the drinking spot for everyone thirsty for the news withing the German manga scene. Publishers had booked time slots on stage and presented their newest books.


My publisher Christian Allmann presenting the upcoming titles at Pyramond, among others my own kitten manga Mjau!.

Going back to Germany is for me like meeting relatives that lives far away. This is my second big event in the country since DoKomi in 2015 and I have made so many friends online since then that I was elated to meet in person. Some of them have become really close friends like Marika Herzog, whom joined me for the Italian event FumettoPolis last year.


Marika (cosplaying from YOI) and I. 


Some artists I have mostly admired on a distance, like Reyhan Yildirim, one of my "artist-crushes". This time I was brave enough to talk to her and got one of her mangas signed. Yaaay!!
To be able to meet all these amazing and kind artists that I have followed for so many years, and to hang out with them in the evenings too, it was a dream come true! ❤

Last but not least, this event was the pre-release of Sword Princess Amaltea vol. 1 in Germany, and thus marks another step in my career. I signed so many books (thank you everyone for buying it!!) and feel so honored to be part of this flourishing and high-quality manga scene.



Besides the snow storms covering the city in an almost Arctic aura, this trip was a well needed boost for me as a Swedish manga artist and fan. In Sweden, last year was the first year since the end of the 90'ies where no Japanese manga was published in Sweden. No publishers dare to put in the effort anymore. I could write a whole blog entry about it, but in short; the editors at the big comic publishers in Sweden are either not interested or not knowledged enough to do the job. Plus the kids here are too good at reading English (and the American manga distributors reach us well). So for me, seeing how the German publishers put money and time into manga, and get rewarded likewise, makes me both happy and envious. They prove that manga was not just a fad. Maybe this is where the Swedish manga publishers would have been if they wouldn't have given up that easily.

Oh, well.

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Last but not least, here's my tips for you who want to go sell at Leipzig MCC (based on my experiences of the fair):

  • Cash Is King in Germany, so bring lots of change, in Euro of course. Most people seem to want to pay in cash, but the most common alternative seem to be PayPal so make sure you have that too.
  • Book the tables waaaay in advance. The MCC Kreative seemed to have some issues with tables going fast or something, which was partly why so many artists had their own booths.
  • Book hotels and traveling tickets early too. I went by train, which was not as awefull as some seem to think. Took 10 hours from Sweden but I only payed 200 euro for the tickets (both ways included).
  • Fanart was apparently an issue, I heard, they discuss how much should be allowed. Check the rules before you apply, if you are a fanartist.
  • Manga, webstyles and fiction or funny cartoons seemed to be the dominating part of the artists selling, so that might be something to keep in mind.
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✱ Thank you so much for reading! ✱

25 March 2018

2018 - My Year Of Global Breakthrough

Every year, I usually make a blog entry about what my coming year should be all about. Like a view ahead. I try to make these blog entries early in the year, but this time, my year have already been so hectic that I did not have time until now to do it.... So, here goes!

I also used to do New Year's resolutions, but have stopped doing it, because I learned that I sometimes have a hard time controlling what will happend to my time, when opportunities sometimes litteraly gets dropped from the sky and I just have to catch them.

My previous "My Year Of"-blog entries can be found here (some of them in Swedish):
2009 - Året då allt ska hända!
2010 - Året då allt kommer att hända!
2011 - Men var lite stolt för fan!
2012 - The year of new beginings!
2013 - Let's draw!
2014 - A year of reaping the fruits
2015 - The year of new challanges!
2016 - Time to evolve!
2017 - My year of fulfilling my dreams

This year will be epic, both career-wise and personally. I am sure I will remember 2018. Here's why:
  • Career:
    My mangas Mjau! and Sword Princess Amaltea will be released in 4 countries (USA, Germany, Italy and Czech Republic) all through the year. I will be travelling a lot and visiting events in each country to promote the mangas.
  • Personally:
    My bf and I will build our own house, by hand. More info and photos to come...

 The German and Italian versions of Sword Princess Amaltea is already out! Here's the German one:


Thus, my year will be filled with travelling, bulding, travelling, building, travelling... and even more building!
This is my plan:


April:
Part time work at Serieskolan (the comic art school where I teach every week) while demo-ing the old house.
Finish a short comic for an anthology project, while working on Nosebleed Studio's upcoming second "how to make manga"-book.
27th of April: Sell books with Nosebleed Studio at J-popCon in Denmark.

May:
Part time work at Serieskolan while finishing the demo of the house and start preparing the base.
Release my watercolor manga Sjöjungfrun Minna and the free manga magazine Every Girl Is A Hero at Stockholm International Comics Festival (more about the project in an upcoming blog entry), plus working on Nosebleed Studio's "how to draw manga"-book.
5-6th of May: Sell books with Nosebleed Studio at Stockholm International Comics Festival in Stockholm, Sweden.
10-11th of May: Sell books with Nosebleed Studio at KodachiCon in Lund, Sweden.
17-20th of May: Sign books at Zanir's booth at AnimeFest in Brno, Czech Republic.

June:
Part time work at Serieskolan while finishing the base of the house and hopefully start with the wodden frame.
Some more work on Nosebleed Studio's "how to make manga"-book.
19-20th of June: Visit Armenia to do workshops as part of the Every Girl Is A Hero-project.

July:
Summer break for classes at Serieskolan, so we will work full time with the house. Hopefully finishing the wooden frame, and possibly the roof too.
Hopefully releasing the Nosebleed Studio "how to make manga"-book at NärCon Sommar.
5-8th of July: Sign books at Tokyopop's booth at Anime Expo in Los Angeles, USA.
26-29th of July: Sell at NärCon Sommar in Linköping, Sweden.

August:
Summer break still, but school starts at the end of the month so we will try to work as much as possible with the house. Hopefully finishing the roof AND the walls with exterior siding and all.
3-5th of August: Sign books at Pyramond's booth at Animagic in Mannheim, Germany.

September:
Part time work at Serieskolan while hopefully start work on the inside of the house, starting with the clay floors.
27-30th September: Sell books with Nosebleed Studio at Gothenburg Book Fair in Göteborg, Sweden.

October:
Part time work at Serieskolan while working on the inside of the house; interior walls and bathroom.
Maybe some spare time to start working on some future projects...
31st Oct - 4th Nov: Visiting Lucca Comics & Games in Lucca, Italy.

November:
Part time work at Serieskolan while working on the inside of the house; bathroom and kitchen.
Maybe some spare time to start working on some future projects...

December:
Part time work at Serieskolan while working on the inside of the house; the rest... Hopefully moving in before New Years Eve, but I think it will take some more weeks, maybe even until February 2019.
Maybe some spare time to start working on some future projects...


So, as you can see, I have my whole year planned out for me! I love this! I am that kind of person, who likes knowing what I will be doing not just a week or a month from now, but preferably a year from now! I think it's partly because I am a storyteller, and good storytelling is all about planning. Without a plan, you can't fore-shadow things or make a good dramaturgy for the whole story. That is why I make these posts; it's like writing a story the story of my own life.

Let's finish this wall-of-text-entry with the cover design for the Every Girl Is A Hero-magazine I'm going to release in May. More info soon!


Btw, this is my tenth year blogging, yaaay!
I posted my first blog entry back in August 20th 2008. So I will try to make some special entry here on that date.

✪ Thanks for reading! ✪

18 February 2018

2017 - In retrospect

I usually make a summary of the past year, but since I now use mostly my instagram (or at least more than I blog) I will make this summary even more summarized than normal. If you want more details, check out my instagram.

So, here's some important things I did 2017:

  • Visited a bunch of comic conventions!
    (links to my blog reports):
    23-26th of February: NärCon Vinter (Linköping, Sweden)
    1-2nd of April: Malmö Seriefest (Malmö, Sweden)
    14-16th of April: GothCon (Göteborg, Sweden)
    21-23th of April: J-popCon (Copenhagen, Denmark)
    26-27th of May: Nordsken (Skellefteå, Sweden)
    27-30th of July: NärCon Sommar (Linköping, Sweden)
    15-18th of September: FumettoPolis (Novara, Italy)
    28th Sept - 1st Oct: Göteborg Book Fair (Göteborg, Sweden)
    27-29th of October: MCM London Comic Con (London, United Kingdom)
    28th of December: Mellandags-marknad! (Panora, Malmö, Sweden)


  •  Held a lot of manga workshops!
    ...and lessons at schools, libraries and of course my dayjob at Serieskolan (Comic Art School) in Malmö. Plus a bunch of role playing game events with my RPG-book Sword Princess, based on my manga Sword Princess Amaltea.



And last but not least:

  • Signed a bunch of International deals!
    Not just one or two, I signed 6 International contracts for publishing deals for my mangas:

    Sword Princess Amaltea will be published as an omnibus by Zanir in Czech in April 2018

    Mjau! and Sword Princess Amaltea will be published by PYRAMOND in Germany all through 2018.

    Sword Princess Amaltea was published by Kasaobake in Italy in September 2017 and will continue through 2018.

    Mjau! will be published by Phoenix Dreams Publishing in the US in early Spring of 2018 and Sword Princess Amaltea will be published by Tokyopop in the US starting in June 2018.

So, in the end, I'm pretty satisfied with this year. Couldn't have asked for a better year, actually. This year was a year of travelling, a year of completion, a year of International recognition and a year of a lot of new friends!

And in my private life, big things have been happening as well... oh, what the heck, I'll tell you!

Me and my BF have bought a house! A tiny 50 square meter house that we will rebuild to our liking. All on our own. THIS HAS BEEN MY DREAM FOR SUCH A LONG TIME! It is finally coming true!

Here's a photo of the cottage right now. It will look totally different in a year or so, when we're done with it. I will keep you posted now and then, I promise.

It's the bigger house in the back. The one in the front is a small
guest house in terrible shape, that needs to come down too.

Thank you so much for reading!