OK, I just lost 3 hours worth of writing on this post, so this is gonna be the fast-n-dirty version.
The Three Posts of the Conference (on teaching comics in Finland in March 2011):
Somehow, all the times I’ve been in Europe for the sake of comics, and all the times I’ve tried to talk my students into traveling and getting involved in the international comics scene, it never occurred to me to talk to students about studying abroad.
At some point, we plan to put together a clearing house of info on comics teachers, classes, and programs here on dw-wp.com. Stay tuned for more.
My host for the International Comics Seminar was Sarjakuvakeskus, the Comics Center (that’s a direct translation) of Helsinki, Finland. It’s a project of the 40-year-old Finnish Comics Society, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that also runs a comics festival, hands out awards, and maintains a comics library.
I have long wondered what makes Finland such a regional epicenter of inspiring experimental comics, increasingly making waves internationally these days. What, for example, makes it different from the other Scandinavian countries, in which interesting work is also being produced, but not as consistently and across as diverse an expressive field? The conditions of production are comparable if not identical, and yet Finland has maintained the lead for at least a decade-and-a-half.
Evidence that he’s right on first principles can be found in two brand-new English-language publications.
Info about Finnish comics artists (some of them at any rate) here.
Mission one: acquire Moomin gear for small children. Check! Johanna brought us to a great flea market: the real Helsinki was on display, and we found lots of great stuff.
Dan, Markus, Thierry, and I went searching for a Finnish dinner. Failing that, we arrived at an “Argentinian” steak house. And ate reindeer. Uh, last time I was in Buenos Aires, that was not on the menu. (Tasty, though!)
We then went wandering, looking for film director Aki Kaurismäki’s “secret” bar. We found it: Kafe Moskova turns out to be a part of a larger entertainment complex of some kind, and it’s not clear if it’s actually Kaurismäki’s place or is simply inspired by his films. But it was a genuinely cool joint, worth checking out.
A last Moomin thought, from the airport:
And now for my final trick:
Yes! I totally spelled that without even peeking!