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THE SUMMER OF LOVE AT THE SWEDISH SMALL PRESS EXPO!

May 14, 2008

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The relationship between the Swedish and American alternative comics scenes got a lot stronger a few weeks ago at the 10th Annual Swedish Small Press Expo (SPX) held at the famous and opulent KULTURHUSET -- Sweden's "House of Culture" in the heart of gorgeous downtown Stockholm.

I was lucky to be invited as a guest of both the convention and the publishing house ORDFRONT/GALAGO, as this September Top Shelf will be distributing FROM THE SHADOW OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, the first ever all-English anthology of Swedish alternative comics.

GALAGO, the publishing imprint/anthology that has showcased Swedish alternative cartoonists for over 30 (!) years, thought it would be good for me to check out the comics scene in Sweden and meet the cartoonists featured in NORTHERN LIGHTS. And I am so glad I did!

The efforts of all the Swedish publishers, creators, and especially the convention organizer, Kristiina Kolehmainen -- who incidentally is the head of the Swedish Comics Library (Serieteket) and who has run the Swedish SPX since the beginning -- coalesced this year's convention into something quite remarkable: a true "SUMMER OF LOVE" of the Swedish comics community. With a couple thousand comics fans, a hundred Swedish creators/exhibitors, and a dozen Scandinavian independent press publishers all putting out intensely personal and literary works, the Swedish SPX has developed into one of the most important comics events in the EU -- on par with the indy scenes in the U.S. and France. And from the mood on the floor and at the cool parties held each night, I personally witnessed an amazing amount of energy and goodwill between the cartoonists and fans, who realize that the Swedish comics scene is -- after years of hard work -- finally in full bloom.

In any event, next April Top Shelf will head back to the Swedish SPX, bringing along Jeffrey Brown and debuting Niklas Asker's SECOND THOUGHTS -- the first of several excellent Swedish cartoonists that we'll be taking on.

And, by the way, a dozen Swedish creators told me they'd be visiting MoCCA this June, and the crew from GALAGO told me that they'd be coming to the American SPX this October to help showcase FROM THE SHADOW OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. Let's be sure to welcome them in the States as much as they welcomed me over there.

A special thanks to Johannes Klenell, the Editor at GALAGO, who set up the entire trip for me and was my guide throughout Sweden the entire week. Also a big thanks to my other host, Fredrik Strömberg, the Director of the prestigious comics school in Malmo. I journeyed there and spoke to their talented students as well. And finally a big thank you to Anders, Asa, David, Federico, Fredrik, Ingemar, Jakob, Jamil, Jan-Erik, Jessica, Johannes, Kim, Knut, Kolbeinn, Kristiina, Liv, Loka, Markus, Martin, Mats, Mattias, Melika, Niklas, Ola, Rolf, Simon, Sofia, Steffan, Stina, Ulli, Victor, and everyone else who made my stay in Sweden so special. -- Chris Staros

LINKS:

FROM THE SHADOW OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS:
http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=12&title=627

SWEDISH SMALL PRESS EXPO:
http://www.kulturhuset.stockholm.se/default.asp?id=5760&refid=21527

KULTURHUSET -- SWEDEN’S "HOUSE OF CULTURE":
http://www.kulturhuset.stockholm.se/default.asp?id=5617

GALAGO:
http://www.galago.se

COMICS SCHOOL IN MALMO (SERIESKOLAN):
http://www.serieskolan.se

Photos shown is of the ballroom in the Kulturhuset, in downtown Stockholm, where the Swedish SPX was held.