When did last year go by? 2020 will be known as the year that changed the world. In the midst of terrible, tumultuous times, many comic book creators and publishers from all over the world were still able to make and release comics that were both beautiful and interesting. So once again, my team of international correspondents, who are experts in the 9th Art, have been kind enough to share their reviews of the local titles that they thought were the best. Once again, it’s time for us to go on an armchair tour of the world. Part 1 is below. You can read Part 2 here… and Part 3 here…
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1. Døden (‘Death’)
by Halfdan Pisket
Pisket made a name for himself with his great Dansker trilogy (2014–16), but he also made it hard for himself. It was the story of his Turkish-Armenian immigrant father’s life as he moved from country to country, culture to culture, and the criminal justice system. Pisket’s role models are David B. and Art Spiegelman. They both had powerful, personal stories that were hard to match a second time around. His new book, Dden, on the other hand, is a worthy follow-up. It’s a kind of fictional reimagining of the same subject. It is a picture of a young man’s dance with death, as a friend who is dying of cancer, as an ex-criminal haunted by his past, and as a child of immigrants. There is social realism mixed with poetry and short, lyrical prose mixed with expressive drawings in this book. It’s very similar to the trilogy. It feels like it’s based on real life, but it doesn’t feel like it’s being forced.
2. I morgen bliver bedre 2: Dronningen (‘Tomorrow will be brighter 2: The Queen’)
by Karoline Stjernfelt
You can’t wait to read the second part of the trilogy by Stjernfelt about the mad Danish king, his English queen Caroline Mathilde, his personal doctor Johan Friedrich Struensee, and the Danish Revolution of 1771–72. The first book, which came out in 2015, set the scene by putting the three main characters together in Copenhagen before the revolution. It was Stjernfelt’s boldest move yet, and even a little bit of a commercial success. There is a lot more going on in this second book, and it focuses on the famous romance between Caroline Mathilde and Struensee and how it helped the young queen stand up for herself at a court that thought she was just a tool. Historical event: This interpretation by Stjernfelt is both eloquent and beautiful. It’s about young love and rebellion set against the Enlightenment’s ideals. It comes to an end with the most wide-ranging freedom of expression laws in history that Struensee puts in place after he gets the king’s trust through a mix of guile and real love. For a while, there won’t be a third and final volume, which will show what happened in politics and how it affected people personally. But given where we are, it’s hard to think of a reason why we wouldn’t want to wait.
by Line Jensen
One of Line Jensen’s best years ever. This is how she felt when the pandemic hit in March. Before the pandemic, she was ready for it: She had been posting about her daily life with two kids and a touring musician husband on Instagram for a long time. She was able to talk about how the pandemic made her feel uneasy and worried. When she talked about lockdown, she did so with a sense of humor, warmth, and precision, telling her tens of thousands of followers that we were all in the same boat. When she makes art, she tends to avoid the darker or more troubling parts of life. But her sense of everyday family dynamics is spot on, and her bent, cheeky drawings can make you laugh out loud. This was not the only thing she did. She also wrote a book for kids about the Danish author Tove Ditlevsen, a national treasure. She also opened a real, brick-and-mortar shop selling her art and other things, even though the economy was going down. At the end of the year, however, it is her story of how she lived an ordinary life in a unique situation that we remember.
4. Noget frygteligt er altid lige ved at ske (“Something awful is always just about to happen”)
by Lars Kramhøft
In the cartoon world today, Lars Kramhft is one of the most ambitious young Danish artists. In spite of having many other books, this one felt like it came out of nowhere. The book is about a young man’s first year in the cartooning program at the Viborg Animation Workshop, where he had to deal with social anxiety and his desire to be an artist. It is also an in-depth look at what it means to be a man in a society that is changing its views on gender. In the end, the protagonist’s flirtation with incel culture isn’t very interesting, but it fits very well with Kramhft’s more organic treatment of his character’s suicidal tendencies, which he looks at in light of the rising suicide rate among young men in Western countries today. If Kevin Huizenga had been around when Kramhft was making this, he would have been very impressed with how well he knew how to put things together and how to make things look clear. Sk was given the Ping Award for the best Danish comic of the year, and there is always something that makes people happy.
5. Grøde (“Fecundity”)
by Signe Parkins
When I wrote last year’s roundup, I didn’t include this important work by one of Denmark’s most unique and interesting cartoonists. I’m very sorry about that. It came out at the end of the year, so I don’t feel bad about adding it to this list. Grde is a big book with a lot of drawings that aren’t connected by words. They make up a vague but clear story of inner conflict and despair. The same character, a woman with long, bendy limbs and sagging breasts, is everywhere on the pages. They form constellations of organic shapes and architectural structures. It’s hard to read this book, but it also has a lot of strength. It’s about sex and motherhood, but it also has a lot of strength.
Selected by Michał Chudoliński
His job is to write about both comics and movies. His job is to teach people about American popular culture, with a special focus on comic books. He teaches “Batman’s mythology and criminology,” “Comic book canon,” and “Comics journalism.” He is the person who started and is in charge of the Gotham in the Rain blog. Polityka, New Fantastyka, Charaktery, and the International Journal of Comic Art (IJOCA) are some of the magazines that he writes for. He also talks about comics on the Polish Radio as a guest. Now, he works at AKFiS TVP and is the Polish correspondent for “The Comics Journal.” The co-founder of the Polish Science Fiction Foundation, as well.
7. Andzia (‘Angie’)
by Piotr Mańkowski & Przemysław „Trust” Truściński
This is a real treat for Lewis Caroll fans as well as those who like “Trust,” a well-known Polish comic book artist. Comic books aren’t what they used to be. They are more like picture books or even poetry comics at times. This book isn’t really a comic book at all, though. However, Truciski uses a lot of comic book language in the book. Bishop Piotr Makowski (1866-1933) wrote poetry a hundred years ago, and the illustrations, which are filled with the grotesque and the absurd, perfectly match the poetry he wrote then. The album is full of humor, imagination, and a unique sense of style.