From the Land of the Midnight Sun: Nordic History and Cultural Memory in Comics
The past is all around us, not least in our entertainments. It is also a highly malleable thing that can be moulded and shaped to tell us who we are, who we should be, and where we came from. The myriad ways in which conceptions about the past can be informed by contemporary concerns and the ways the past can be used to legitimize present practices and ideas have been ably charted by scholars in the rapidly growing field of memory studies. Although highly interdisciplinary, comics studies has yet to truly enter this field, despite the fact that its subject matter provides ample opportunity for studies of representations of history and memory.
Nordic comics history and comics that represent the past and present of the Nordic countries provide one of many possible inroads into these fruitful lines of inquiry. For example, Nordic comics, from early comics strips through locally produced contemporary comic books, like the Swedish funny animal series Bamse, Norwegian humor series Nemi, the Finnish Moomin stories, Danish strip Poeten og Lillemor, and many more, all provide a vast and still largely unstudied archive of historical perspectives and attitudes. Similarly, Nordic comics creators, like “Team Fantomen,” who have produced the majority of Phantom stories for regional publication since the 1960s, make frequent use of the Nordic past as a setting or story element. In addition, varying degrees of adulation or criticism inform biographical and historical comics and graphic novels about personages like Swedish writer August Strindberg and Elias Lönnrot, compiler of Kalevala, Finland’s national epic. Finally, it can be noted that the Viking Age and conceptions about its culture and beliefs have been a particularly inspiring topic for comics creators, spawning among others Peter Madsen’s long-running and often ideologically anachronistic Valhalla, several adaptations of Swedish writer Frans G. Bengtsson’s Röde Orm (The Long Ships or Red Orm in English), and, in 2013, the superhero-inspired The Norseman.
Furthermore, comics have helped make Nordic history and memory international imaginative currency. The Viking Age has been a particularly frequent topic, appearing in American mainstream comics like Marvel’s Thor and Vertigo’s Northlanders, Japanese Manga like Viking Saga and King of Viking, and Franco-Belgian album series like Asterix, Thorgal, and Johan and Peewit. In these comics, and in many others like them, the creators use a past not their own to speak to and about their own time and place. But in recent years, Nordic comics have also increasingly appeared in translation, perhaps most notably in such anthologies as Kolor Klimax, From Wonderland with Love, and the United States’ 2010 “Swedish Invasion.” In various ways, these comics contend with preconceived notions about the Nordic countries and Nordicness.
The Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art is planning a special issue on Nordic history and cultural memory in comics, and invites articles about these and related matters. Welcome topics include, but are not limited to:
– Representation of Nordic historical personages and events
– Nordic comics and the search for a useable past
– Comics and revisionist Nordic historiography
– Comics, the past, and Nordic social criticism
– Nordic stereotypes and stereotyped Nordics
– Vikings and Old Norse religion in comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, and bandes dessinées
– Nordic comics in translation
– The reception of Nordic comics abroad
– What’s so Nordic about Nordic comics?
Please send an abstract of max. 300 words, along with a short bio and contact information, to [email protected]. The deadline for abstracts is October 1, 2014. Full articles due by January 1, 2015. We also welcome reviews and forum texts (brief, non-peer reviewed scholarly commentaries, essays, and debate pieces). Interested parties should review our submission guidelines atwww.sjoca.com and contact editor Martin Lund with a pitch or book request at [email protected].
Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art (SJoCA) is an online, open-access, peer reviewed academic journal about comics and sequential art. The journal is interdisciplinary, encouraging a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Although the journal is rooted in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), it is global in scope and aims to publish high quality research regardless of national or regional boundaries. The journal publishes articles, book reviews, and forum texts from the field of comics studies. The language of the journal is English.
Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art is an independent journal and is published by the non-profit organisation Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art.