mandag 21. juli 2014


When I write about Norwegian comic artists and cartoonists on this blog, I prefer to focus on artists that can easily be presented to an international audience, thanks to translations being available online. That’s why I’ve been writing these articles on Nemi, for instance.

One of the new, young artists who are currently published in Nemi’s comic magazine, while being internationally available at the same time, is Ida Eva Margrethe Neverdahl (sometimes she signs her comics as Ida Neverdahl, sometimes Ida Margrethe Neverdahl, sometimes Ida Eva Neverdahl...take your pick. For now, let’s just call her Ida).  That is to say, she is not so new anymore, but certainly still very young. She’s 20 now, turning 21 in September, and has been in this business for five years already. It started when she won the third place in a Norwegian newspaper’s annual cartoonist contest. Two years later she got fifth place in the same contest. By now, she’s already made a bigger name for herself than most runner-ups can realistically hope for.

It's important not to lose the sense of wonder

The reason for this is of course that she has a truly original and creative expression. Naivistic and slightly mangaesque, Ida’s art is simple yet expressive. Her narrative style can best be described as taking hallucinogenic drugs that tastes like cotton candy and chocolate-covered caramels. Her comics, especially her strip gags tend to be macabre, surreal and sweet – Often all three in the same strip! Her art is cute, deceivingly cute considering what the punchline or the message can very often be.

Ida’s first work to be published nationwide was Klone og Jeg (Clone and I), the comic that earned her the aforementioned third place. It’s about a young girl named - yes - Ida who clones herself successfully, only to have the clones go horribly wrong, of course. It never got off the ground, but effectively displayed Ida’s sense of weirdness.

Scene from Klone Og Jeg (not translated). "Ida" asks her mom what most closely resembles human flesh of what they have in the fridge. You'd think  that would be enough to make her mom worried, but apparently, she still needs a special alarm watch to tell her something is wrong. 

Since then, the main outlet if Ida’s creativity has been the comic Gelé, or JellyVampire in English. To begin with, the strip would be used to express any idea she might have, including the beautiful and poetic Like An Artist section which was praised by Scott McCloud himself (you can read the section here).

But after a little while, a new heroine, cute, short and raven-haired, began to emerge. Lulu is Ida’s most frequently recurring character. You might have read a few of the strips on her Deviant Art page, which can be accessed here. But there are plenty more, including some short stories in addition to the regular strips, all of which I hope will be made translated into English eventually. Lulu is sweet and adorable, and loves things like unicorns, rainbows and romance but also has a dark side. In short, she’s like the essence of Ida’s comics. Sometimes she’s a princess, sometimes she’s a regular girl. Occasionally, she’s even a reality warper but more often she seems to be a victim of the forces of fate. She has her ways of dealing with those forces, however, and is rarely helpless.  

There seems to be a distinct possibility that more of Lulu’s adventures will be made available to the international audience in the near future. At least if she can find the time to adjust them to the format she prefers. In her latest DA post, she announces:

"I want to post more strips. Because I produce so many of them and all they ever see is Norwegian daylight which is unfair SO I'll start posting them here as well in English. I've decided to transform them all into the neat vertical format that I love so much."

søndag 6. juli 2014


When you look at the comic book publishing schedule, it’s easy to get the impression that Marvel to oversell the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This last week, they published both the debut issues of two ongoing solo titles featuring members of the group. The first one of these, Legendary Star-Lord, is apparently decent enough, but I personally have no interest in picking it up. But the second one, Rocket Racoon, has the advantage of being made by Skottie Young.

Young is not a typical Marvel comic artist. His style is breezy and light and has an innocent feel to it. Which explains why he is best known for illustrating children’s books as well as a series of Land of Oz books adaptations.

That doesn’t mean that his version of Rocket Racoon is particularly child-friendly. Rocket is a gun-toting womanizer, and there’s a lot of innuendo here as well as some tough guy-talking gratuitous violence. It’s very cartoony violence, though, played for laughs, and the cursing is censored. Despite the violence, the comic also maintains Skottie Young’s elegance. This scene is an excellent example of that:

Rocket, an alien humanoid racoon, has a confusing history in comic books, but the premise in this book is that he’s an adventurer from the Guardians of the Galaxy group who sometimes go on adventures as a freelancer. Very often, it seems, his solo freelance adventures consist in rescuing alien princesses, which he then seduces. The book starts off with a scene that goes like that, then we fast forward to Rocket taking another girl on a date. The date is going disastrous enough before it turns into a disaster for real when space cops finds him and starts chasing him for murders that he, despite his track record, can’t remember having committed.    

The story is quite simple, but Young writes this comic as a humor book, and it works very well in regard. I can’t remember Young being much of a writer before, but in this book has some suave and clever comedy dialogue. He knows exactly what kind of character Rocket Racoon is supposed to be – sarcastic, witty and full of himself - and seems to have a great time writing his lines. So far, that seems to be the comic’s strongest suit – Second, of course, to Young’s beautiful art. It has the right ambition level, and is entertaining enough to make me want to come back for more.     

Rocket Racoon # 1 (Marvel Comics)
By Skottie Young. Inked by Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Digital copy
Price $ 3.99 / NOK 28

torsdag 3. juli 2014


I’ve been following Nemi on and off for several years. Technically, ever since the strip began. However, I’ve been following her more closely (mostly through her magazine and Christmas specials) for the last few years. She’s become somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me, as she is not exactly considered cool anymore, at least not in Norway.  Ironically, the comic strip that embraces countercultures and “being different” is now considered to be very mainstream. Then again, that happens to a lot of properties that started out as countercultural, doesn’t it?

There are two main reasons why Nemi har warmed up to me, both as a character and as a comic. The first is that Nemi, as a character, has gotten more multi-faceted as time goes by. In the early days of the comic, Nemi was quite frankly a bitch. She had a point when she complained about people stereotyping her because of her Goth look, but then again she had no qualms about stereotyping and judging other people because she thought they looked too “straight”. In one strip that I have always found to be particularly offensive, Nemi wears a blonde wig and fancy clothes when going to a café renowned for their great cocoa. Why? Because she assumes that the clerk would call the cops on her if she entered the café wearing her usual outfit. She even has the nerve to curse the clerk (silently) based on this assumption.

Even then however, Nemi always had another side to her. She was also a creative, mischievous prankster, a movie geek, a fun drunk and a woman-child who cried during Disney cartoons. Over the years, the comic has been focusing more on these more entertaining and likable aspects of her personality. She hasn’t lost her edge, but has gotten more fun as a character, and nowadays she tends to get the better of people, not thorugh her attitude but by being clever and witty.

The other reason that I began enjoying Nemi more recently is that it’s getting less preachy. And this is tied to the bitchy side of Nemi’s personality. For a period, Nemi’s Sunday strip would typically be built up like this:
A casual friend or acquaintance of Nemi’s – usually one who’s unnamed and only appears in this particular strip – has a conversation with our heroine. He or she makes a statement that Nemi thinks is wrong or at least poorly informed. Nemi starts by picking her conversation partner’s argument apart, then delivers a long speech explaining in further detail, not only why the argument is wrong, but also why people and the world in general sucks. If the strips takes place during the period when Nemi was smoking, Nemi will occasionally take a puff of the cigarette she was smoking to further illustrate that she’s a dame with an attitude who doesn’t take sh*t from anyone. In the last panel, Nemi’s friend will try and make a counter-argument that Nemi brushes off with a sarcastic remark.  

Occasionally there would be a twist to these Sunday strips (in one where Nemi throws a fit over allegedly fanatical non-mokers, she gets her well-deserved humiliation in the last panel), but most of the time we were never left in any doubt that Nemi was absolutely right and that people who disagreed were idiots or jerks. Thankfully, Lise Myhre gave up on these soapbox speeches a while ago, though I don’t know if it was because she got tired of them herself or if she was getting too much negative feedback on them. On occasion, Myhre will still deliver preachy strips, but at least she’s getting more subtle and creative with them. Rather than putting the lessons she wants to teach people in Nemi’s mouth, she prefers to phrase them in the narrative nowadays. I can live with that.

tirsdag 1. juli 2014



Hi, everyone!
I’m spending my summer holiday in sunny southern Spain, and while trying to socialize, I don’t have much time to make updates, but I wanted to tell you, eventually, about one of the most significant phenomena in modern Norwegian comic history - Nemi

It’s a fairly big subject in itself, and after giving it some thought, I decided to turn this into a series of two articles. In this first installment, I’ll tell you about the origins and development of the strip. In tomorrow’s installment, I’ll be talking about the comic itself and my opinion on it.

I’m trying to find material that are of interest to the international audience while still connected to Norway, and this is a perfect subject matter in that regard. Nemi is one of Norway’s greatest international comic successes ever. It’s currently printed in 150 regular publications around the world, has been translated into twelve languages. Internationally, its most significant publishing forum is probably Metro UK. I have tried to find an archive pages for Metro’s Nemi strips, but am sorry to say that I came up short. If you want to read Nemi in English, Metro is still the best place to start anyway, as their archive of strips dates back as far as January 2013. Just go to the Metro front page and search for "Nemi"
Created by Lise Myhre (named Lise Myhre-Hestnæss after she got married, though none of her fans call her that), Nemi first appeared in 1997, in the comic strip “Den Svarte Siden” (“The Black Side”), where she appeared as an archetypical Goth chick. You’d be advised never to call her that, though, as Nemi has always hated those kinds of labels, and to be fair, she turned out to be a more well-balanced character as the strip progressed.

But more on that in the next chapter. Anyway, the name of the strip was eventually changed to Nemi in 1999. At the time, Nemi was still a backup strip in other comic books, but her popularity was growing steadily. In 200, she got her own Christmas special, and in 2003, her own comic magazine. Being promoted the star of her own magazine, Lise Myhre could have her pick of other backup feature, and there are many quality comics that would probably never have been translated into Norwegian if they hadn’t been featured in the Nemi magazine – Including Roman Dirge’s Lenore, Fables, Beasts of Burden and Anya’s Ghost just to mention a few.

It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that Nemi’s monthly comic magazine really is a magazine. While most Norwegian comic books are published in a small format, Nemi has consistently been published in a big format. It also tends to have a theme and at least one in-depth article every month. And it remains diverse in its selection of comics, although it’s focusing more on humorous strips these days.