Above: Tom Gauld's image for the SPX 10 poster
On 23 April I was invited over to the SPX10 Small Press Expo in Stockholm to talk about erotic comics. This was my second time at the unique Serieteket [Comic Book Library] in the Kulturhaus in the centre of town. The first time was when I was researching The Essential Guide to World Comics, six years ago. Back then the head of the library, Kristiina Kolehmainen, helped me loads with my Scandinavian research, so it was wonderful to return and see here in her "natural habitat" once more!
Despite Iceland’s volcano preventing fellow panel guest Melinda Gebbie, Peter Stanbury, Top Shelf publishers Brett Warnock and Chris Staros, Dash Shaw, and numerous Swedish creators trapped in New York, from getting to the show, we had no problems with the flights.
The erotic comics panel took place on Friday, and because of volcanic ash and the like, wasn’t quite the line-up promised. I bowed out of hosting the panel (a decision, with hindsight I regret) and gave the dubious honour over to Fredrik Stromberg, chairman of the Swedish Comics Association, and author of the excellent Comic Art Propaganda. Lina Neidestam, creator of the neo-feminist Zelda, couldn’t make the panel and so was covered by a last minute replacement, the great Liv Lingborn. Liv is a Swedish artist living in Norway who occasionally draws Yoai/Boy’s Love manga, and who happens to share the same birthday as me and Garen Ewing (except she's 10 years younger, curse her!). The final member of the panel was erotic publisher and academic Carl-Michael Edenborg. He was very knowledgeable about erotica, but sadly knew nothing about erotic comics, so it was difficult for him to contribute massively. However, the crowd was packed and knowledgeable and we managed to yatter on for almost two hours, despite the talk being hijacked on numerous occasions by a bearded, mad Finn—who apparently went on to do the same in practically every other panel.
Left to right: Carl-Michael Edenborg, Fredrik Stromberg, me and Liv Longborn on the Erotic Comics panel.
Above: No, I was having fun, honest!
Ironically, at the same time, there was the launch party for Swedish Comic Sin, an erotic comics anthology by mostly women. The book is excellent and I fortunately managed to catch-up with the creator/editors Natalia Batista and Fanny M. Bystedt later on. As the book is in English I’d thoroughly recommended it as a great example of the new wave of feminist erotic comics that's sweeping the globe at the moment. All the stories have a focus on character and plot and are far more intelligent and sexier than a great deal of the erotic sequential art out there at the moment. Fredrik’s latest book, Swedish Comics History, was also launched at the show and it’s an excellent primer for anyone with a passing interest in the subject, and best of all it’s written in English!
Above: Knockabout Publisher and old friend, Tony Bennett chatting to Sue at the SPX10 launch party.
Above: Jakob Hallin and Fredik Stromberg, co-editors of Bild & Bubba, Sweden's equivilant of The Comics Journal at the launch party
On the launch evening we met cartoonist and professor Joanna Rubin Dranger who very kindly gave me a copy of her 2003 graphic novel, Miss Remarkable & Her Career (below) an insightful look at how career women mentally beat themselves up all the time. Joanna teaches storytelling at University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Konstfack - which also includes creating graphic novels.
Our wonderful hostess, Kristiina, made a short speech and then we tucked into a traditional Swedish spread of pasties and red wine! Finally a few of us were kicked out and we decamped to the local pub.
Day 2 to follow...