Funny ha ha?

3 March 2010 | This 'n' that

Comic books, graphic novels: the popularity of stories in pictures keeps on growing everywhere – and they may or not may be ‘comical’.

In Finland, sarjakuva (lit. serial picture) will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2011. The first Finnish picture story, Professori Itikaisen tutkimusretki (‘Professor Itikainen’s expedition’, WSOY), by Ilmari Vainio, was published in 1911.

Ilmari Vainio (1892–1955) was a customs official who later also published two fairy tales and two handbooks for boy scouts. Professor Itikainen is a scientist who sets out on the sea and then finds himself, together with two brave seamen, facing various dangers in Africa, China and on the North Pole. A happy ending ensues in the form of safe arrival back in Helsinki on page 48.

In February Suomen Sarjakuvaseura (the Finnish Comics Society), Sarjakuvantekijät (Comics Artists of Finland) and other organisations founded a joint Information Centre with the aim of co-ordinating exhibitions, publications and festivals during the anniversary year, which will open with a special exhibition at the National Library of Finland.

Amorous dances: the latest picture book, Lemmentanssit, by Tiina Pystynen

Now showing (until 1 April) at the National Library is an exhibition of work by writer and graphic artist Tiina Pystynen, the winner of the 2010 Puupäähattu Award for Finnish comics artists.


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