A man eats eels from a mystery lake and goes quietly mad. Two little girls named Shamsa and Dana shack up with a goat, an eagle and a giant turtle on an enchanted island. Swedish couple Johan and Joanna try to patch up their ailing marriage by renovating a dilapidated house in Portugal.
These are just some of the weird and wonderful cartooned stories on offer in this year’s masquerade-themed “World of Comics” festival in Malmö, southern Sweden.
How did ‘In the World of Comics’ (‘I Seriernas Värld’) get started? What would you describe as the purpose of the festival?
The festival got started ten years ago as a youth and children’s festival and has been run on a biennial basis ever since. Last year’s focus was on the meeting of East and West. This year, the theme is comics from different parts of the world and from cultures that we normally don’t associate with cartooned series.
To take one example of many, we’re featuring Arabic children’s comics, which will be presented at Malmö city library and at the Rosengård library. This year the festival is larger than ever before, with around 70 events and 23 exhibitions.
We aim to present the wealth of comics which exist in Malmö, to show that Malmö really is the “city of comics”, Sweden and Scandinavia’s metropolis for series. It’s been made possible by the Comics School and Comics Centre and studios in Malmö, C’est Bon (a Malmö-based culture organisation), and by the fact that Seriefrämjandet (the Swedish comic alliance) have their offices in Malmö.
The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Comics Masquerade’ (‘Seriemaskerad’): can you go into this in a little more detail?
We’ve given this year’s festival the title ‘Comics Maquerade’ for two reasons: partly, because masquerades occur in all countries and cultures and we thought it was an exciting concept to explore: what is a mask? What identities and cultural expressions can a mask represent?
Also, the first weekend of the festival coincided with Halloween and All Saints day, when everyone usually dresses up and wanders around in masks. We organised a really fun ”Comics Masquerade” club at Debaser on Halloween, where everyone came dressed as their favourite comic-book character.
How does this year’s festival differ from past years? What can visitors expect?
Loads! This year’s festival is about five times bigger than last year’s, due to the explosion of comic authors active in Malmö, and the desire to exhibit what’s been created and to interact with an audience. Some of the highlights were the seminars and workshops held at the Comics School (Serieskolan) and Form and Design Center by two of our international guests, Sharad Sharma from India and Zeina Abirached from Lebanon/Paris.
What can the festival offer to people who aren’t hard-core comic fans?
Visitors to the festival can experience an introduction to cartooned series through a varied and interesting selection of exhibitions on display throughout the city. There have also been a variety of participatory workshops and seminars with creators, where people could create their own cartooned series.
‘In the World of Comics’ continues until November 22nd
For more information, visit www.isv.se.