Prior to coming to Norway I did a research project about comics, specifically comparing Norwegian and American comic book design. Through this research I found that finding Norwegian comics was like spotting a Yeti. After countless hours I found that the comic scene had come and gone in Norway in the early 90’s. Loving comics the way that I do, I could not simply accept that there was a country where comic books did not exist. I finally found some articles about the newly emerging comic scene in Norway.
These comics are quite different from the action packed superhero comics that are so popular in the states. Now don’t get me wrong they have shops packed to the brim with every mainstream comic and game to ever hit the shelves, but I was looking for something more. I wanted to find the comics where the pages ran over with Norwegian humor, dialog, and design. Everything I ever dreamed of existed and not only that, the Oslo Comic Expo was happening while I was in this beautiful country.
The Oslo Comic Expo was start in 2007. Knowing this I was excited to learn that this would be their 10th expo and bigger and better than those before. Also the posters advertising the expo were everywhere! This was going to be great. In a way I was nervous to go to an ‘Expo’ in another country, because these places can be crowded and disorienting when you understand the language. I was lucky enough to have two Norwegians, Martin and Karl, agree to take us to the expo. Off we went Kari, Kiernan, Martin, Karl, and myself none of us knowing what to expect when we arrived.
After a short ride on the tram we finally arrived. We were greeted by a giant inflatable guy holding a pencil. This looked promising. After weeks of planning we were ready to enjoy everything this expo had to offer, then we spotted it…
There was a tent set up that was about the size of the fireworks tents they set up on the side of the road around the 4th of July back home. Honestly I was shocked, this was not at all what I expected. As we approached the tent it was obvious they were just finishing opening up for the day and we were among the first people there. This was great because they were giving away very thick, hard back books that contained countless excerpts from comics and just artwork in general. There were two books and of course, since they were free, I snagged a copy of each book. (I didn’t find out until later that these books aren’t even in Norwegian they are in Swedish. Thank goodness for google translate and my simple appreciation of the art and design these books contain.)
Once we made it inside we quickly noticed that not only were there Norwegian comics for sale here, but most tables were manned by the actual creators of these comics. We got to see people working on storyboards for comics that were in progress and one guys even drew a small doodle in a comic we purchased.
While the larger tables had very expensive hard back comics/graphic novels, the smaller tables had a much more cost effective approach. The comics were small and easy to hold in your hands. They were printed on cost effective materials and easily reproducible. These comics reminded of zines in a way (small, self-published magazines). They had clearly made an original and then most likely copied the pages, folded them in half, and then either stapled or sewed the middle to hold them together. They were nothing fancy, but they contained the heart and soul of their creators.
I saw many things I would have loved to purchase, however I learned a valuable lesson. Creating something that you are passionate about AND being able to offer it to the public at an affordable price WHILE making it personal is the key to leaving a lasting impression and a sense of awe in all who get to experience it.
Thank you Oslo Comic Expo for showing me what it is I truly treasure about comics, the people behind them.