And Top Shelf is collaborating with the foreign invaders—in fact, they’re rolling out a red carpet!
This spring Top Shelf is launching a “Swedish Invasion” initiative, in which they’re planning on introducing elements of Sweden’s vibrant alternative comics scene to American readers. In addition to publishing seven titles, they’re also bringing many of the cartoonists themselves over for a visit in April.
On April 9, Rocketship Comics in Brooklyn, New York will host about a dozen Swedish cartoonists, plus the Top Shelf crew, and that weekend they’ll all be appearing at the MoCCA Arts Festival (along with non-Swedish cartoonists Nate Powell, James Kochalka and Alex Robinson).
Later in the month, on April 17, Mats Jonsson, Kolbeinn Karlsson, Simon Gardenfors and company will be at Double Door in Chicago for a party (at which Gardenfors, a “well-known Swedish rapper”—four words I don’t hear grouped together in that particular order often enough—will also perform). That weekend, April 16-18, they’ll also be appearing at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.
Of course, that probably doesn’t matter all that much to you if you don’t live in NYC or Chicago, or aren’t going to visit either town on those particular weekends. What does matter wherever you are and are interested in comics is what Top Shelf is publishing.
The books that are part of their “Swedish Invasion” initiative are…
—Hey Princess by Mats Jonsson, a $15, 470-page autobiographical graphic novel about moving to and trying to make it in the big city.
—120 Days of Simon by Simon Gardenfors, a $15, 415-page original graphic novel that resulted from the artist’s challenge to himself to spend 120 days away from home, with the stipulation that he couldn’t spend more than two nights in the same place. Epic adventures ensue.
—The Troll King by Kolbeinn Karlsson, a $15, 160-page, full-color fantasy graphic novel that sounds awesome: “A dwarf falls into a river and is taken to a place beyond space and time. A carrot takes a bath and finds itself transforming…Welcome to the surreal world of The Troll King.” I never knew how badly I wanted to read about a bathing carrot that finds itself transforming until just this moment!
—Second Thoughts by Niklas Asker, a $10, 90-page graphic novel about two artists who meet one another and share a moment in a London airport.
—From the Shadow of the Northern Lights Vols. 1 and 2 by Galago, a pair of 200-page anthology collections of comics from Swedish magazine Galago, featuring, Top Shelf says, the work of the finest comics artists Sweden has to offer. My ignorance of Swedish comics art means I have to take their word for it.
—Swedish Comics History by Fredrick Stromberg, a $20, 125-page, nine-by-nine-inch softcover book devoted to the, um, history of Swedish comics, from ancient picture stories the Vikings etched in stone to the comics of today. Well not today-today, but the day Stromberg submitted the book to the publisher, I imagine.