Report from Tampere Kuplii

First of all, happy Cosmonaut Day!

So, Ainur and mum talked me into going to Finland, and here I am, in the ice and the cold.

This visit happened to coincide with the comics festival Tampere kuplii last weekend. We just showed up on Saturday, and there was an empty table, which they let us book for the rest of the day and Sunday. So we could sell some zines to the unsuspecting Finns.

Lots of fangirls stopped by to point at Falco on the cover of Goldenbird #3-4 and say how cute he was.

I only had one zine (White Nights) with me, all our zines were in English, our comics (mine definitely) are pretty much totally unknown on the Finnish comics scene, and barely anyone ever found their way to the zines market, which was hidden away in the deepest dungeons of Finlayson (a former textile factory – where mum has worked – that is now a culture complex). But we did pretty good and had some encounters with interesting people.

In a section of the zine market, there was paper taped across the walls where people could draw.

Ainur drew angry puppies …

… and I drew the piggy heroine from “This is my home“. In my striped sweater (a present from Ainur) I felt even more like her than usually.

Mum drew something too …

There were some interesting happenings otherwise, too, like a lecture about the earliest Japanese animations from the 1930’s, happy ripoffs off Disney and Warner Bros, which greatly inspired Osamu Tezuka.

These are my best comics discoveries from Tampere kuplii:

– Kaksi eläintä by Mari Anteroinen and Mikko Jylhä

A zine with two 24 h comics by two different artists, both about animals.

Halli is a sad story about a halli (seal cub) who turns into a halli (one of many synonyms for ‘doggie’) …

Kalajuttu is a cutesy wordless comic about a badger on a mission.

– Villimpi pohjola (book 3) by JP Ahonen

Then, there was this book. All the male characters are very dark and hairy. Extremely dark and hairy, considering that they are supposed to be Finns!!! This had to be investigated closer …

The artist’s name sounded strangely familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it at all. After studying his website I still don’t know why (a) his name sounds familiar and (b) why I haven’t heard more about him. It’s possible that I’ve heard his name before because he has had some work published in the Flight anthologies. And it’s possible that I haven’t heard anything else about him because his comics on one hand aren’t “artsy” enough and on the other hand not “magnaa” enough to be championed by the Finnish comics scene elites. Instead, Villimpi pohjola (Northern Overexposure is the English title) is being published as a Sunday strip in a couple of newspapers, and its fans are probably to a larger than average part not just comics enthusiasts (even if the slice-of-20-30-something-late-student-life comic is based a lot on nerd humour).

So anyway, what’s with all the hairiness? Mr. Ahonen (not too hairy himself) was signing books, but I was too much in blushing fangirl mode and too excited about the flourishing hairiness drawn before my very eyes to ask him why they were so hairy, and he didn’t comment much on my request for “A man with lovely hairy arms, please :3”, except, “…” and “Okay, here comes the arm hair …”

Ainur’s friend Mikko suggested a rather banal explanation: In the earliest Northern Overexposure strips, it was apparently very hard to tell the characters apart, and also to tell whether a character was male or female (“well, some had boobs and others didn’t”). So maybe the wonderfully excessive body and facial hair of the male characters is just an attempt to visually emphasize their masculinity …

Porcinities of the Finnish language: “Jännittää ihan sikana” – “I’m nervous like crazy”, literally ‘like a pig’. Aww. V^(oo)^V

Otherwise we spent most of our time in Tampere hanging out with mum, who excitedly told us all about the history of her home town – as always from a red, working class perspective.

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