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
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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!
I wish to announce to the world that I have lost my non-fuzzy wool mix zipper cardigan that has been an extension of my body in the colder parts of the year since 2003 or so. I was wearing it in Freehold, New Jersey, above, and I also wear it in all my hourly comics.
It fell off my bike somewhere between Treptow and Alexanderplatz, and it was nowhere when I went back to look for it. ;_;
Luckily I had not yet washed it or mended all the holes in it as I was planning to do soon. I.e. it was pretty nasty and full of holes. :o/ Maybe someone threw it in the trash. Or maybe some hipster picked it up and is going to use it for some stupid art project, because it’s just so … authentic. Most of all I hope it was adopted by somebody who really needs it. :3
I got it from the Christian thrift store in Lund, Sweden, in my early university years. At first I thought it was kind of strange and I wasn’t sure how to wear it. But gradually I realised how extremely practical it was, and it became my perhaps most used item of clothing ever.
Now I will have to fill this void with another cardigan that will be equally or even more practical and versatile, because how else am I supposed to wear summer jackets in the winter like I usually do.
At first I felt a bit silly filling out this questionnaire, but then I saw that Mikael Sol had done it, too, so why not me.
1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Lots of stuff — the nicest being starting to rent a garden outside the city and renovating the construction trailer that is there. That place makes me very happy.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No and no. (Maybe I should remove the boring questions from this questionnaire, but I’m too lazy.)
This is a kind of personal entry, so if you’d rather just look at the pretty photos from Teufelsberg and not read any relationship crap, you can head over to Flickr instead.
I am an idiot, so yesterday I left my bike overnight at the train station where I have my garden. Today my bike was gone. It looked like hell and barely functioned normally, so I really wonder if it was worth it for the thieves to break the two locks to try to sell it.
It was stolen once before by some stupid kids in Orust East Side, who cut up the saddle and tyres and dumped it in a ditch, where a nice old lady found it and responded to the notice we had posted. I posted a note now, too, although I doubt anyone will care to respond.
I had that bike for 16 years, in Hannover, Finland, Sweden and now in Berlin, and it was like an extension of my body. Everyone I borrowed it to hated it, because it had weird quirks that probably made it uncomfortable and even dangerous to ride if you didn’t know it very well. It was like a difficult horse that only a very special person can ride. I have been kind of that person with horses, so maybe it’s not so strange that I loved this bike. It was really fast, too. :3
A few years ago, outside Lund, Sweden, when it was considerably less rusty:
My parents bought me that bike in Hannover, when I was 13 or so, after my previous bike had been stolen. There was another bike in the store with the same price tag, a “better” bike that was on sale and had a white and mint green paint job. My parents wanted me to take that bike, but I refused. The salesman and my parents sighed and rolled their eyes. But I wanted the black bike. I wonder how many years the fugly mint green bike would have held up.
The only significant problem my bike had since then was that the chain wore out just three years ago, after my stupid boyfriend had talked me into oiling it. Which, as I later found out, you should never do unless you also clean it very thoroughly – otherwise the oil will help the dirt and sand move into the chain and break it, which is exactly what happened to me.
My next bike will certainly have a hard time filling its shoes. (Tyres?)
So Ilan actually seems to agree that getting a house outside the city could be a good idea. (Maybe he’s gotten nervous about my fantasies of refurbishing a construction trailer, like the one in the photo above …?)
We went to look at this fantastic old house today. It’s in pretty bad shape, and, most importantly, it is way too huge for us, so we aren’t going to buy it, after all … But it was fun to visit it nevertheless.
I wrote a long report about it in Swedish for the Epix blog, with lots of photos, too. You can check it out over there.
(Photo by Stef Gaines)
I sold my self-published comics zines and also represented my publisher Epix, sharing a table with Ainur and the Evil Mochi Dummy. My zines were perhaps a bit overshadowed by my “real book”, but that’s okay, I guess.
As always it was great fun, and since the festival just keeps getting better and better every year, it was more fun than ever before. Not least because I personally know more and more comix industry people every year, so I’m not nervous about going there anymore, like I was the first time I attended and didn’t know anyone.
Lots of amazing events and epic meetings took place, but they were all overtrumped by the totally astonishing discovery I made when the festival was over and we were packing our stuff: a secret admirer had left their underwear under my chair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With pubic hair and everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fancy underwear, too.
So I got a nice frame for them and will hang them in a special place on my wall. ♥
Thank you, Mr. Secret Admirer.
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I got that frame from the Euro-Flohmarkt on Schönhauser Allee, near U2 Vinetastraße. It’s a really nice place, a big yard inside an old factory complex, with all kinds of crap, from millions of mugs over tools, rusty sewing machines and coal stoves to really very nice antique furniture and old doors, with very decent prices. There is an invisible doggie behind a wall who barks if you come too close to the wall. The people who run it are really nice, too, and when I also bought a pair of coffee cups the guy noticed that one of them was broken, and went to find me two even nicer ones.
I first tried to find a frame at the hipster heaven at the Sunday market in Mauerpark, but the only frames in the right size I could find came with stupid paintings or lithographies and were priced at 25-50 € … Nooooo.
I actually noticed that nice junkyard yesterday when I was one of the 10.000 people – antifa and union activists, local politicians and not least regular residents of this neighbourhood, who drove out the couple hundreds of Neo-Nazis who had organized a demonstration on Bornholmer Straße, on Labour day of all days. They had planned to march about six kilometers, but after only a few hundred meters and massive opposition from counterdemonstrators and residents of the surrounding buildings, the police decided to turn them back and escort them out of Berlin.
I have never been this proud to live in Prenzlauer Berg.
We’ve had some problems with mold in our apartment this year, with the very cold winter. There were some previous occurrences, as well … Who knows if or when there will be some new mold somewhere again?
Out of frustration I am now making it into a contest where you can win original art drawn by me!
Basically the mold has been here latently all the time, but it has pretty much been our own cluelessness that has brought it out in bloom. When I moved in here I did not know that you should never put anything too close to cold outer walls. I piled some cardboard boxes under my book shelf, and they nicely insulated the cold wall against any warm, dry air from the room, allowing a huge mold colony to grow.
The last winter (2009/2010) was exceptionally cold, and we didn’t heat enough in the bathroom and the kitchen, so the cold outer wall became moist and grew mold. As for the mold on our southern windows, it might be because we have kept the curtains drawn way too much. Once in a while it’s mysteriously gone, but there is sometimes a surveillance camera on the opposite building that might or might not be directed straight at us, as well as offices filled with bored guys who would like to watch me do morning exercises and change my clothes, and the glaring sun bothers me when I work.
Of course, our building is not exactly in perfect shape. We live on the top floor, where the crumbling firewall, which might not have been worked on since 1946 or so, is exposed to the cold northwest. In the attic there are holes straight through it. On the inside, that wall has been covered with “insulating wallpaper” and thin styrofoam. But if they don’t stick properly to the wall, pockets of cold, moist air can easily form between the wallpaper/styrofoam and the naked wall. And they do not stick properly to our walls.
So far any mold has not come back again to a place I have removed it from. I have previously used an “organic” mold killer called Jati Schimmelpilzentferner (that you have to order from the pharmacy), and most recently a chlorine-based one from the hardware store OBI. After applying the mold killer, I scraped off any wallpaper and plaster that was affected, and painted the naked wall with special moisture regulating paint for bathroom and kitchen areas.
Anyway, if you’d like to get a chance at winning some original art by me, please study the floor plan of our apartment closely and place your bet!
Right now I am at my mum’s place again, working as usual (ah, the benefits of freelancing – you can go anywhere as long as you have Internet and your laptop). And skiing.
The thing is that I needed to apply for a new passport, and since it costs 1000 Swedish crowns more if you get it at a Swedish embassy abroad, I might just as well spend that approximate amount of money on going to Sweden and enjoying the winter properly in the meantime. Ilan happened to attend the Pixelvärk festival in Gothenburg, so it all worked out perfectly.
And we get to hang out with mum’s ketteh Mr. Yellow:
On Tuesday, when there are decent bus connections (as opposed to the weekend), I’ll also check out the Art Comics Life exhibition about contemporary Nordic comics at the Watercolour Museum in Skärhamn, since it’s right here on the next island to the south.
Too bad that all the ‘happenings’ at that exhibition were on the weekend. Mum lives in the middle of the forest with no car, so we rely on the bus connections.
It’s not difficult at all, because besides the regular buses, there is a really nice “local bus” service that’s more like some kind of collective taxi – you order it the day before, and then it picks you up at your front door and takes you to town, and picks you up again two hours later. The bus drivers carry your groceries for you and help you with anything else if need be. It’s mainly elderly people who use the service, although it’s open to anyone. So when I go shopping with mum here it’s us two and then a bunch of happy grannies and grandpas in a minibus. The bus drivers are really sweet, and they are incredible drivers, driving up and down these tiny snowy roads in the hills like it’s nothing.
See more photos from Orust on my Flickr.
Ilan and I went to this fashion party (it was the fashion week in Berlin) where they had set up a photo session where all the guests could have photoz taken of their mad threadz combinationz skillz. The only reason we went was that Ilan’s friends Meneo were playing at the party. But the location itself – the Villa in Friedrichshain, a former brewery building, was pretty interesting too.
Photo by Iwo Gospodinow at fashionfreaks
After the shoot they tried to ask what brands I was wearing (they asked everybody about that). I said “No brands, all home made.” Here is the long answer that I did not give at that occasion …
Tinet – “Tatar swineherd at the local Kolkhoz”
Fur hat: dress uniform, Soviet government issue.
Wool jacket: home made by me.
Bathrobe: home made (?), inherited from my great-grandma Varma, 50′s or 60′s.
Skirt: home made by unknown person, found at thrift store.
Leg warmers: inherited from my mum.
Boots: vintage 80′s, any labels long since worn off.
Not visible: knitted bright red shorts made by mum, thrifted undershirt, panties from some Finnish department store I have forgotten the name of (vintage 90′s!!).
Okay, I guess I could have named H&M as a brand, because my wool-mix tights that are full of holes, two of my earrings and also my socks were bought there in the early 2000′s.
Ah, and I’m also wearing a cloth pad from Randumosity. Whee!
Severiina – “Rebellious youth”
Kheffiyeh: unknown make.
Spiked collar: thrifted, with a ribbon from a Sachertorte box and a metal chain found in the street.
Severiina had a ball – she really enjoyed Meneo’s concert, and she was even invited to dance on the stage with those two wild Spanish boys!