The year started with crazy hard work drawing as much comics as possible. I had two comics that were supposed to go to print in March. So I slept very little, abused a lot of coffeine, and lost myself in the higher purpose of creating the most awesome comics I could in this insanely short time frame.
One was my contribution to Swedish Comic Sin 3 – the first comic I have ever drawn with grey shading. It was also a bit challenging to draw in smaller format, and it certainly was challenging to draw sex scenes that would really do justice to the characters and their feelings. (But fun!!! :3)
Even more challenging was the other comic I had to finish – Driftwood, which I’d been working on since I was 15. V`(oo)´;V
Even if there were a couple of stupid errors in it (such as an unfinished retouch job on one page, ugh), and I’ve now decided to extend one of the last scenes a bit for the English book version, the book as it was published in Swedish is already incredible. V*(oo)*V
Those crazy months were not made easier by the fact that somebody gave me lots of psychological abuse, but I endured it and just kept drawing one page after the other and drowning out my brain. (And, by all means, it gave me some useful inspiration for Willie’s dad in Driftwood.) As for personal relationships, I figured they could go to hell for all I cared, because I had more important things to do …
(Frida Ulvegren reads my porn at SPX12 – photo by Ilan)
Then I went to SPX12 (or Stockholm International Comics Festival). On one hand it was a really positive experience since I got to meet many of my wonderful friends in the Swedish comics scene, and met some new friends as well. It was exciting to present the Driftwood book and see that people actually wanted to have it. :3 To top it off, my zine Tunguska #9 was awarded the prize for best zine of 2011 by the Swedish Comics Association.
On the other hand I also had to interact with some annoying and insane people. But Ilan was by my side and made it perhaps not quite as bad.
Otherwise, Driftwood got practically no reviews or media attention. I can only speculate about the reasons. Because the press release sucked? Or because a book “doesn’t exist” in Sweden unless it’s on Adlibris, which is too bad since Epix has a policy to delay release to the commercial internet bookstores? Or because nobody wants to read almost 400 pages just for a review? Or because it’s too weird and Swedish people don’t even know where to start categorizing it …?
However, it was surprisingly and heartwarmingly well-received in the libraries. It got a very nice review in the main library catalogue, a mention in the yearly catalogue for the best new children’s and young adult books for libraries, and has been acquired by many libraries across the country. The vast majority of the truckloads of comics I devoured in my youth were borrowed from libraries (Gothenburg city library especially in my heart forever ♥), so that means a lot to me.
Anyway, after I got home from Stockholm, I had to compensate for the fact that I’d taken 3 months off from dayjobs by working my ass off. Since my solar panel was busted and it wasn’t very powerful anyway, I had to spend most of my time in the city to work. So my gardening really suffered this year. But I was still able to grow some cucumbers and other nice things.
At one point early in the year I had to “blackmail” a client (a local comics publisher, and not the awesome one that I’ve been working for since 2006) because they were holding my payments. I’d agreed to do two jobs for them, and I’d had no previous experience with them.
They were 15 days late with the payment for the first job, and after several reminders to which they just replied “yes, we will pay soon”, I stated that I wouldn’t start the second job until they’d paid me for the first … at which they paid immediately. This made them extremely untrustworthy, so to make sure I did get paid for the second job, I demanded the money before I delivered the files. After that was settled, I will of course never work for them again.
Oh the joys of freelancing.
So anyway, during May-December I mostly did lots of dayjob work. I also completed the nearly superhuman feat of teaching my mum to work with InDesign and Photoshop so she could create and publish her first book all by herself!
But I did make some time to enjoy the finer things in life, too. (Hairy men, etc. :3)
I started drawing Dog Island – the sequel to Driftwood. But overall I drew very little comics. Of course, anything would seem pathetic compared to the first three months of the year … ;__;
In other art forms, I am teaching myself to play dombra (slowly but steadily). But it’s extremely embarrassing to play in front of other humans so that’s all I’ll say about that.
In October, a strange thing happened: the Memorial to Romani victims of the Holocaust in Berlin was finally opened after 20 years of delay(!).
In the fall I moved to my winter residence in the city again, and continued working my ass off with dayjobs. But this meant that in the end I got the means to finally end a very strained professional relationship.
I went to some more festivals – Helsinki comics festival, Zinefest Berlin and AltCom Malmö – where I disseminated my comics and met lovely friends, old and new. ♥
Then Ilan and I organized a 24h comics marathon in Berlin, since there hadn’t been any this year at all. This Saturday we will have the opening party for the exhibition with the comics!
As mentioned, because of dayjob overload and other problems, my comics making had been suffering for most of the year, in stark contrast to how it started out. But it seems to have picked up again just before the year ended … :3
* * *
I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do about all the insanity in the world, with the rise of fascism, the disastrous self-destructive capitalism, and the lack of awareness about what we could actually do to make the future better. Just the other day I read a quite thought-provoking text on these issues, written by Malcom Tamale Kyeyune (in Swedish).
I met the new year on a rooftop with fireworks going off all over town around us, and an annoying drunk middle aged fancy sculptor person shouting into Ilan’s ear, “Berlin is the last place on earth!” (he must be new?) and “You aren’t Muslim, are you?” and “It’s just a joke!” …
Bodes well for the new year!
So every year on December 9th I count how many pages and panels of comics I have drawn. This past year I wasn’t even counting as I went, or trying to achieve any specific goal, but I actually managed a few more pages than last year …
Number of pages and panels I have drawn since December 9th 2011:
Driftwood chapter 9 (from page 30): 29/190
Driftwood epilogue: 3/7
Driftwood deleted scenes: 4/34
Her 18th Birthday: 20/110
Hourly Comics Day 2012: 12/23
Dog Island: 13/81
My garden and some of those I share it with (this year’s 24 h comic, which I finished just hours ago): 29/102
111 pages / 551 panels
(All-time total as of today: 831 / 4202)
Last year I drew a bit less – 102 pages and 471 panels. The panels per page ratio also rose a bit now, from an average of 4,6 panels per page last year, to an average of 4,96 panels per page – practically as high as it was in July 2007–December 2009, back when I didn’t draw (smaller-format) 24 hour comics and hourly comics every year yet.
I have no formal education in arts or drawing comics, and a lot of my comics making happens unconsciously. Things I do are good if it just “feels right” or “makes sense” and bad if it “feels wrong”. Sometimes it can take a day or even a week until I find a solution to why something wasn’t working. At such times, I wish I knew more about the theory of making comics, so that I could know exactly why something isn’t working …
One thing I’ve started to pay attention to is how to lead the reader’s eyes across the page.
I started to notice how I do this during the editorial process of my Swedish Comic Sin anthology contribution. The books are made through collective self-publishing, and before the book is put together, everybody can critique each others’ comics and offer advice on what doesn’t work and how something could be better. Several of my fellow artists had problems with my frequent use of this type of layout:
It’s very common in Japanese comics – that’s where I picked it up – and I like to use it because it allows for variety in the layouts. However, there are great risks of a culture clash when Europeans read this type of layout!
In Japanese comics, the reading order is strictly set as demonstrated above, and I can’t remember ever having seen the rules being broken. But in the rare cases when European comics use it, there are no fixed rules for the reading order, so artists often use arrows to point out the (to me often ‘illogical’) reading order. So when European readers are confronted with it and have no arrows to help them, they can get confused.
Now, I could scoff at them for being illogical and uneducated … Or I could compose my panels in such a way that there is no confusion regarding the reading order.
The page most people had a problem with was one where I’d sketched one crucial panel wrong, but didn’t bother fixing it before I sent out the sketches to the editorial collective:
Blue arrows: geometry (shapes, perspective etc.)
Red arrows: faces (and to some degree body language) of characters
Green arrows: speech bubbles and captions
This is how I fixed it in the final version:
I composed panel 5 in a radical “<” shape, picking up the lines from panel 4 and redirecting them towards panel 6.
If I did it today I may even have changed the cabinet on the wall in panel 4, since it has unnecessarily confusing horizontal lines that point towards panel 6 …
I’m not exactly a master of this trade, and I have a lot of room for improvement. But for everyone’s education I will post some more examples behind the cut, from my comic Driftwood!
So, I made a piggy mummy USB hub with piglet USB sticks!
What might become of all this …? V^(oo)^V
Remember the case with the Swedish comics expert who was charged with possession of child pornography in 2010? He was sentenced to fines in the two lower instances – the District court and the Court of appeal – and appealed both times, but today we got the news that the Supreme court has acquitted him.
The Supreme court still signals that the law as it is written today is okay. It deemed that 38 of the 39 allegedly pornographic drawings were in fact not child pornography, “since they are fantasy characters that cannot be mistaken for real children”. But the Supreme court still thought that one of the drawings is child pornography, because it was “realistic” (or “reality-like” – the Swedish word is a bit more ‘real’ than the English word) – however, it deemed that his possession of this drawing was defensible, since he is an expert on Japanese comics and it was one of thousands of other graphics on his hard drive.
Perhaps the public will never know exactly how realistic a drawing has to be to be child pornography, because it’s illegal to show it. If it is “photorealistic” – almost or as detailed as a photograph – it would perhaps make some sense. The sentence refers to the EU directive 2011/93/EU, which aims to criminalize only images that “reproduce reality”.
However, expert witness Fredrik Strömberg, one of the few people who have seen all the graphics in question, states that the 39th drawing was not “very much more realistic than any other”, only “drawn in a slightly more European style”.
So, if this one drawing is just a little bit more realistic than the “huge eyes – tiny mouth” commercial kids’ manga style, it’s still extremely difficult for artists and readers to know where the line is. It’s still up to the justice system to arbitrarily judge whether a drawing is child pornography or not.
Still, I’d say the threshold has become a bit higher – after this sentence, it’s probably not quite as unpredictably easy anymore to get accused of possessing or spreading child pornography in the form of drawings. The law has gotten a bit closer to “common sense”.
It would of course be even better if there could be a clear line – for example, if all drawings would be legal, since there are no real persons in them, while photos and videos of actual underaged people would be illegal. Hopefully this sentence is a step in the right direction.
HOUSING OF 2011
In the spring of 2011 I moved out of the place where I had been living four and a half years (was it really that long?!!!). I never felt like it was really my home, so it was actually somehow a relief – finally what I’d been expecting to happen any time came true. One of the things I like about moving is that it’s a great opportunity to get rid of all the things I don’t really need. In 2011 I “downsized” from a large room + kitchen to an already furnished and equipped 20 m2 trailer …
That’s right, I spent the summer and fall at a trailer on a small garden plot outside the city. I started renting the place in the summer of 2010, and spent the fall fixing it up. In 2011 finally came the time to live there properly over the warmer half of the year. It was as awesomepants as it sounds, but a lot of the time I was in denial – nooo, there is just no way that my life could be that perfect!!!!1 – so I was mostly focusing on the few negative aspects of the situation, such as loneliness and too much rain and relationship crap and getting lyme disease.
When I moved to Berlin five years ago and my life suddenly was so much better than before, I had a similar depression, so in 2012 my life at the trailer will probably feel even nicer. :3
In any case, unlike my old apartment, my trailer really does feel like “my home”, as much as is possible when you rent a place, anyway. I have a contract that goes one year at a time, so nobody can kick me out anytime soon.
I’ve been planning to write some sort of deeper exploration about all the actually very important political and emotional aspects of my very independent living situation at this place. Some day …
WORKING OF 2011
The spring was madness. Then, for the rest of the year, I had earned so relatively much money, and I spent so little money on rent, that I could work less dayjobs and focus more on my own art.
Some highlights from my dayjobs this year were Hair Shirt (my first 100% hand lettering job O_o), B. Traven (about the anarchist writer in Mexico), Coraline, and The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book (not yet published).
PROTESTING OF 2011
I did my own little part in the Arab spring by joining the local protests in Berlin for freedom and justice in Egypt …
Later on I joined “Occupy Berlin” and stared down the Reichstag.
Otherwise, my entire existence is in its own little way an act of protest and resistance against the oppressing powers that be.
COMICS CREATING OF 2011
I was focusing mostly on Driftwood, my “love child” that I’ve been drawing since 1996. It’s going to be concluded disturbingly soon (I’m in the middle of the last chapter now). I’ll collect the whole comic in a 500 page book next year. Exciting!
ANIMALS OF 2011
I interacted with lots of different animals in my garden. I found a way to coexist peacefully with the slugs that wanted to eat all my vegetables, and I watched hedgehogs, frogs, toads, spiders and many other little creatures.
EXPLORING OF 2011
Probably the most interesting abandoned place I explored this year was a Soviet garrison where a tank battalion used to be stationed.
There was even a little Soviet “furgonchik” near the garages:
EVENTING OF 2011
In Sweden, I organized a live drawing event at SPX11, talked and comic battled at the Gothenburg book fair, and took part in the first ever edition of the Gothenburg comics festival.
Internationally, my zines were exhibited in Paris and I sold some zines at Tampere kuplii.
In Berlin I took part in the 24h comics event, and last but not least I arranged an exciting audio-gustatory-olfactory-sensory-visual performance together with my mum and my sister at the lovely FIGO. (There will be a report soon …)
Here we pose with Mussolini.
EMOTING OF 2011
Basically I taught myself to accept that I might have bizarre feelings for bizarre people and that it’s all okay if I say so (and if someone says otherwise that’s their problem), and that those feelings are just a sidetrack, anyway, and that I should center my life around the most important thing, which is drawing my comics, and the things that are necessary for being able to draw comics, which is earning just enough money from dayjobs, and having a place where I can be alone and in peace and focused.
DISAPPOINTING OF 2011
The rainy summer. Not much solar power. Rotting tomatoes. Weird spinach, carrots and radishes. ;_;
SURPRISING OF 2011
I finally tracked down my object of obsession – the piggy in the bathtub!!!! Unbelievable.
And maybe most surprising of all, I decided I’m going to learn to play the dombra. Maybe it’s my 30 years crisis. I’ve never learned to play any instruments properly, but I’ve always kind of wanted to, and yet I’ve been making stupid excuses as for why not. I’ve ordered a dombra now, but it’ll take a month or two until I get it. :3
In July 2007 I counted how many pages and panels of comics I had drawn in my life. In December 2009 I counted how much I had drawn since then, and pledged to double my yearly average and draw 87 pages until the next December 9th. One year ago I pledged to double that average again and draw 174 pages …
How did it go?!
Kvällen innan mitt flyg till Göteborg kopierade jag upp en jävla massa fanzin i min favoritcopyshop nära Eberswalder Straße (“Vildsvinsskogsgatan” – ursprungligen en väg som ledde till staden Eberswalde norr om Berlin [där jag förstås skulle vilja bo]).
Sen bigade jag och sydde och skar till dem här hemma hos min mamma. Eftersom jag inte orkade släpa med mig min feta häftapparat sydde jag fanzinen istället. Så om du nånsin köper ett fanzin av mig som är sytt med röd och blå tråd vet du att det ursprungligen var specialgjort för Göteborgs seriefestival. :3
Jag hade egentligen hoppats på att ha Tunguska #10 klar nu, men så ville det sig inte … V`(oo)´V
Dock var jag med på 24-timmarsserien i Berlin förra helgen, och producerade The Muggers — den hafsigaste serien jag nånsin tecknat!! Whee … Det märks att jag ritade de 32 sidorna på bara 17 timmar — bland annat så har sidorna 12 och 13 nästan identisk layout, vilket är extra bra i och med att de är på samma uppslag. Dock är storyn inte alls dålig (den får i alla fall mig att skratta ihjäl mig).
Jag tecknade den på engelska, och hann inte översätta den till svenska, men det kanske inte hindrar folk från att vilja läsa den … :3
Göteborgs seriefestival går av stapeln på torsdag nästa vecka på Blå Stället i Angered (kulturcentrum och gymnasieskola i ett). Det torde komma ett schema med alla workshops, seriebattles, presentationer och paneldiskussioner snart.
Under alla dagar (torsdag-lördag) kommer det definitivt att vara fanzin- och bokmarknad (i matsalen), och där hittar du mig! Jag kommer att sälja mina fanzin och så klart även min bok Eva ♥ Asbesthjärtan.
Dessutom kommer jag att ställa ut en del av kapitel 9 i min serie Drivgods – mer än vad som har publicerats hittills på nätet, och dessutom på svenska. :3
Det känns helt sjukt och jätteroligt att delta i en seriefestival på mitt gamla gymnasium. V^(oo)^V
Annars hänger jag mest bara med min morsa och hennes katter, och jobbar med mina dayjobs härifrån.
In the early history of Tinet’s life on the Internet, I was using “western” style, vertical piggy smilies:
>:(:) — >:(:)) — >:(:)( — >:(:)p
But at some point I found a much wider range of expression in “eastern” style, horizontal piggy smilies …
V`(oo)´V — stoic
V^(oo)^V — cheerful
V´(oo)`V — sad
V>(oo)<V — upset
V>(oo)<#V — wroth
V^(oo)^;V — embarrassed
V;(oo);V — crying
VT(oo)TV — bawling
V°(oo)°V — astonished
V*(oo)*V — dazzled