Selecting only a few pencils in Sweden is a difficult task, the choice has to fall on four contemporary protagonists: Sven Nordqvist has a background as an architect, teacher and graphic designer. In 1983, he won the competition for the best illustrated book organised by what was to become his publishing house, Opal. Among his best-known and best-loved characters are Pettson and Findus. Throughout his career he has received many awards, including the ‘Astrid Lindgren Award’, the ‘August Prize’ and the ‘Northern Lights Prize’. Emma Adbage studied at the ‘Hofor school of comics’. A sharp and irreverent voice (this word recurs often when talking about Northern literature!), she has won esteem and sympathy through four books of absolute quality, translated by Samanta K. Milton Knowles: ‘The Gift’, ‘The World’s Most Ester’, ‘The Pit’ and ‘Nature’. Liv Strömquist is a well-known radio presenter: after graduating in Political Science, she devoted herself to social issues, immigration policy and, in particular, the status of women. Thanks to a comic book artist roommate, she realised that her lifelong passion for drawing could become the medium for expressing her political activism: her specific trait is to use comics to write true manifesto-essays such as ‘The Fruit of Knowledge’, ‘The Feelings of Prince Charles’, ‘I’m Every Woman’, ‘The Redest Rose Opens’ and ‘Inside the Hall of Mirrors’. The translation was particularly demanding because to the usual challenges that this work imposes, comics in general and Strömquist’s in particular, it adds the complexity of particular spatial limitations, especially by virtue of the notes and bibliographical specifications that accompany the author’s theses. From Denmark, it would seem that not much seems to come from contemporary illustrators, while the influence of earlier masters is still alive: a decisive mark for the composition of an album was left by Hans Christian Andersen, who in 1859 composed ‘The Book of Christine’ in four hands with Adolph Drewsen (a high-ranking Danish state official), for the third birthday of the latter’s niece. For the occasion, they collected and produced 122 plates of pictures, accompanied by a few verses. ‘The Book of Christine’ constitutes a milestone in modern illustrated books because the pictures do not accompany the words, but rather create the stories. Out of a sense of justice, let us quickly recall Ingrid Vang Nyman, whom we all know, albeit without knowing it, for illustrating ‘Pippi Longstocking’: unfortunately, her name has remained unknown to most.
Arts, Books, Children's books, Comics, Culture, Denmark, Literature, Scandinavia, Sweden