onsdag 28. mai 2014


I recently went to a book release at Bergen’s public library to learn about the new publications from local comics publisher Überpress and brought one of them home: Haugson, written and drawn by Ola Olsen Lysgaard.

Lysgaard has created an adventure comic inspired by Norwegian folklore and fairy tales. Elements include the simple country hero, tall majestic mountains, kings and castles, witches, giants, goblins and gnomes. All common elements, but Lysgaard adds some originality to the narration. After trying out different art styles for his new comic, he eventually went for something inspired by Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, with his use of circular and angular shapes, and the way things are defined by large shadowed area more than anything else. But the most distinct thing about Haugson is, of course, that it’s silent.

And I’ll admit that this is also one of the reasons why I’m reviewing it on my English language blog. A silent comic needs no translator, and can be exported to the foreign market more easily. Which isn’t to say that silent comics are easy to do. Not only as the writer/artist’s premise, but also because of the psychological aspect. In many ways, this format demands more concentration from the readers, when they don’t have the words to “lead” them through the story. The readers might also feel subconsciously “cheated” because they feel they are not getting enough reading material, not their money’s worth. 

Fortunately, Lysgaard is a skilled narrator, also without any words, and for a silent comic, Haugson is rather complex. Lysgaard toys with the expectations of the readers, breaks with conventions, and seems to enjoy surprising the readers – A little. Not much, and not to invoke originality, but because he sees how he can improve the story by making little twists. The difference between good and evil is clear, but there are some grey areas; not everyone and everything are as they first appear. Lysgaard takes his time in building up the story, and likes to add details that may seem insignificant at the time, but which turns out to be important to the comic as a whole – For instance, he spends two pages on a scene where a young boy tries to make a guardsman aware of impending danger.

Rather coquettishly, the book starts with chapter two. The comic would have worked well without this arrangement, but it has the advantage that it piques the reader’s curiosity as well as quickly setting Haugson into a more expanded universe.  

Without revealing too much of the story, I might add that the book is very clearly setting up a sequel. Again, some readers might feel cheated, but it’s obvious from the story’s structure that Lysgaard always intended to continue Haugson past the first volume. I hope he gets the chance to do that. 

torsdag 22. mai 2014


Prokon, one of the oddest and most unique (for better or for worse) graphic novels in Norwegian history has just been published in French by Editions Matiere. It was written and drawn by German-Norwegian art scholar Peter Haars (1940-2005), and published for the first time in 1971. While the graphic novel was considered to have a cult status, it was not reprinted until as recently as 2013.

What makes this publication stand out is that it's an entire graphic novel drawn in pop art style, with big spacious panels and simple dialogue. Storywise, it's a heavy political piece criticising the capitalist and consumer society: PRO is for produksjon (= production), KON is for konsumering (= consumerism). Some sources has descibed it as a superhero comic, but that's a bit misleading. In reality, it's a political fable, borrowing a few elements from the superhero and science fiction genre.

(as a curious bit of trivia on the side, it can be mentioned that Marvel Comics changed their name to Marvel Pop Art Productions for a few months in 1965. Of course, this did not mean that Marvel were making their comics in actual pop art style at the time; it was merely an attempt to pass off comic books as "pop art", and it didn't really work. Which is why they quickly changed it back)    

Prokon has never been publised in English yet, but editor of the 2013 edition, Svein Christian Størksen, is hoping that maybe the release of a French edition could lead to that. 

onsdag 21. mai 2014


“I look around. You know what I see? Losers! But life’s giving us a chance.”
- Christ Pratt, Guardians of The Galaxy

Believe me, I was not planning on revisiting this subject again so quickly after last Thursday's post, but a new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer just came out, and although it was reusing some of the footage from the first, there’s a lot of new stuff to explore here.

So today I’ll be talking a little about the Guardians. While the first trailer was all about establishing the mood and the premise, the new trailer is about bonding. We get to see the guardians coming together as a team, and try to wrap their heads around the idea that have to be heroes. On the whole, there’s more character depth this time around, but the basic message that the trailer delivers is still the same: This movie is going to be fun. Not fun as a pure comedy, but fun as an adventure. To further add to the atmosphere, the trailer adds another classic one hit wonder song to the soundtrack. Last time it was Swedish pop veteran Björn Skifs’ “Hooked on a Feeling”, this time it’s Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”.   

Christ Pratt gets most of the lines, while Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel’s characters gets to talk for the first time. Glenn Close gets a brief appearance and one line. The bad guys still have no lines, but we get a slightly closer look at Ronan the Accuser. Ronan looks even more like Darth Vader than I thought at first, which might have been the idea, although Ronan made his debut ten years before the first Star Wars movie.

I’ve been meaning to read some of the Guardians comics, but haven’t gotten around to finish a full storyline. I expect to buy one or two volumes soon, for summer reading, and will try and say a few words about them before the movie premieres at August the1st. One thing that separates Guardians from other Marvel movies is that the comic itself is so new that it feels like it’s been developed simultaneously with the movie. Sure, the name of the comic is old, and so are many of the individual characters, but this particular premise is from 2008. At least that means I won’t have too many comic book volumes to choose from.

søndag 18. mai 2014


For my first full blog presentation, here’s a fantasy comic that caught my interest from the very beginning and that I’ve been following enthusiastically ever since. PrinceLess debuted in October 2011, published by Action Lab Entertainment, written by Jeremy Whitley, and drawn by M. Goodwin. The artists come and go; this is primarily Whitley’s comic book. It has been on hiatus for a while, but the next installment is coming in June.

The very first page of the comic starts with a classic retelling of the old “princess locked in a tower is saved from the fiery dragon by a brave prince” cliché story, whereupon the heroine of the story, young princess Adrienne of Ashland, immediately dismiss the whole idea as “hogwash”. A rebellious princess is born, so rebellious that her parents end up drugging her food so that they can lock her into a tower guarded by a dragon where she will have to wait until a prince comes and rescues her according to tradition. Naturally, she’ll have none of that. She befriends the dragon that was set to guard her, and sets out to forge her own destiny.

…And help her sisters forge theirs, as the thread of the comic seems to be that Adrienne has six sisters, all of whom have also been left somewhere to be “rescued” by a prince. It woulds also appear that Adrienne’s group will grow a little for each storyline. Her first ally, besides her former guard dragon Sparky, is her whimsical, but crafty, half-dwarf squire Bedelia, an adventurous teenage girl like herself.

This comic has sometimes been described as a spoof of fairy tale clichés. And while it does that too, this is not a parody, but rather a humorous fantasy/adventure comic that stands up well enough of its own. The first volume (pictured on top) is setting up the story at a nice, even pace, taking its time to define the premise as well as the central characters. The second volume (pictured below) further expands on the world of Ashland, its secrets and its royal family.  It’s an engaging story with a dark undertone to it, while it also consistently makes for a very fun read. The humor varies from pure slapstick to satire, both of them fitting naturally into the context.

The first volume is drawn by M. Goodwin, and the second volume by Emily Martin. Both artists do a fine job, and the characters and environment is easily recognizable from one to the another, but Goodwin is somewhat more detailed and has a sharper line, while Martin’s drawings are broader and rounder. All things considered, I think Martin’s more round and flexible style fits the comic better.  

I first read PrinceLess in a digital format. The printed volumes, however, has a pretty obvious problem when it comes to the editing. I imagine that when people read comics in collection, they want the story to be as seamless as possible. The PrinceLess collections are anything but seamless, and the second volume is particularly bad; It reprints the comic exactly the way they looked in the single issue format, including the advertisements! At least the so-called Encore Edition of first volume is a little better, since it skips the ads and fills the space between the issues with sketches and pinups. I would’ve preferred to have those things in the back, though.      

For all its qualities, and its feminist message, what makes PrinceLess stand out is of course that Adrienne is black, and that she come from a black family that for some reason rules a Medieval European-looking fantasy kingdom. One could argue that they are out of place, but like I said, this is a fantasy kingdom.  In a world of dragons, dwarfs, and - apparently somewhere down the line – vampires, human skin colors shouldn’t be a big issue. We can always imagine that Ashland has been a major migration center. That would also explain why Ashland is so multi-racial in general.

Whitley makes a racial joke early in the comic, when a random prince calls Adrienne “fair maiden”, and Adrienne points out that “fair” actually mean “white”. There are also a few jokes about her tricky afro hair, but Whitley wisely chooses not to oversell the racial aspect. 

Now, it would be easy to get a little cynical and read this comic as an exercise in politically correct atonement - As a well-meaning, liberal white man’s attempt to make up for women and black people being formerly underrepresented in comics, at least as positive role models. But there’s a little more to it than that. 

Whitley is not black, but his wife is, and so is his sister-in-law, after whom Adrienne is named. He claims to have based the rebellious princess’ personality on these two women. Mr. and Mrs. Whitley also have a daughter. Being only three years old, she probably didn’t give him much inspiration for writing Adrienne, but he might have been hoping to create something that could become a positive role model for his little girl.

Context is important. But the most important thing is that even if this comic was made by a Middle American white man who had never socialized with black people in his entire life…it would still make for a pretty good read.  

fredag 16. mai 2014


I hope you don't mind if I'm focusing on a comic book movie for a second time before the blog even a week old, but I'm really looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy. And I admit that it has a lot to do with the Star Wars vibe it's giving me. But it is possible to oversell it. I'm starting to wonder if some executive was looking at the promotional material released for the movie so far and said: "This needs to look even more like Star Wars!" And here is the result:

torsdag 15. mai 2014

As recent as a few hours ago, it was announced that Grafill in Oslo will establish a new online magazine about comics, debuting on Thursday the 12th of June. This will be the beginning of  the previously mentioned Oslo Comics Expo. From the description, it looks as if it's going to have very assorted content.

What this means for Serienett remains to be seen. I will get to Oslo on the12th to check out the prototype for the new (as of yet unnamed) website, find out how it compares to ours, and chat with the editorial staff.

onsdag 14. mai 2014

Zack Snyder has published the first photos from Batman vs. Superman (premiering 2015). Ben Affleck's Batman costume looks freaky here; it was bad enough when they put nipples on his costume in Batman & Robin (1997) but this costume has waaay to many detail on the chest. And the Batmobile looks like a spaceship. Although it looks more like a car when you see it from behind, on the second photo: 

But the premiere is still two years away; can Batman vs Superman maintain the public interest, the hype, long enough?

tirsdag 13. mai 2014


Today it's exactly one month left to the opening of Oslo Comics Expo, Norways other major comic book festival (the first major comic book festival in Norway is Raptus, which I'll get back to later). The main international guests are famed indie comics creator Peter Bagge and British veteran Pat Mills. The former made the festival poster (pictured above), where he drew a couple of his best known characters dressed in taditional, Norwegian folk costumes. Chilean multi-artist Alejandro Jodorowsky was also supposed to visit the festival, but had to cancel, apparently for health reasons. With or wihthout him, Serienett will cover the festival extensively. 

mandag 12. mai 2014

Acclaimed comic book author and novelist Neil Gaiman is coming to Oslo on May the 25th to promote his children's book Fortunately The Milk... He'll be signing at Outland comic book shop from 2 to 3 in the afternoon.

From the book's press release:

You know what it's like when your mum goes away on a business trip and Dad's in charge. She leaves a really, really long list of what he's got to do. And the most important thing is DON'T FORGET TO GET THE MILK. Unfortunately, Dad forgets. So the next morning, before breakfast, he has to go to the corner shop, and this is the story of why it takes him a very, very long time to get back. Featuring: Professor Steg (a time-travelling dinosaur), some green globby things, the Queen of the Pirates, the famed jewel that is the Eye of Splod, some wumpires, and a perfectly normal but very important carton of milk. 

søndag 11. mai 2014


This one has been online for a couple of weeks already, hence the early deadline. But I thought I'd share it here as well...

Serienett has been the leading Norwegian source for comic book news, reviews and interviews since 2006, but in all those years, we’ve never had our own logo. When I took over the management of the website, I was determined to do something about that!

Do you have an idea for an awesome logo with an unmistakable comic and cartoon feel to it? Use your imagination and any helping tools at your disposal. The only requirement is that obviously the word “Serienett” must be part of it. You can enter as many suggestions as you like.

The winner gets a cash prize of 500 Norwegian kroner (€ 60 or $ 84). If the winner lives outside Norway, they will receive the price money via PayPal, and the amount will be converted to whatever currency the winner chooses. 

Please send contributions to trosetre@frisurf.no 

The deadline is May the 16th, and the winner will be chosen by me in conference with my co-operatives at Serienett. 
Welcome, everybody!

I started this blog to satisfy the curiosity of friends abroad who are asking me about my website, SerienettSerienett., as you might have learned by now,  is Norway’s only regularly updated source on comic book news, and it's run by me

We don’t typically translate articles from Norwegian to English, as we do not have the time and manpower, and much of the information is only of interest to Norwegian readers anyway. However, I have decided to share some events and updates that might be of some interest to foreign readers. This blog will give you the essence of it. However, Serienett International  will also contain news and interesting tidbits that I've added especially for this blog. In other words, it will also contain new and unique material.  

Recent updates: Serienett has reviewed two new, Norwegian graphic novels this weekend: Håvard S. Johansen's Stumtjener ("Dumbwaiter") by me.

and Anna Fiske's Gruppa ("The [Therapy] Group), by Kristian Hellesund.