Dakota Goes to Sweden

Hi friends — Dakota McFadzean here to tell you about Conundrum Press’s recent adventure in Sweden. The Stockholm International Comics Festival took place from May 16-18, and Canada was this year’s featured country. Our beloved Andy Brown, was unable to attend, but Philippe Girard and I were there with a host of other Canadian cartoonists and publishers. We also had great deal of help from my wife and friend of Conundrum, Laura Pfeifer. Thanks to the hardworking organizers of the Festival, we had a wonderful time and were very impressed with the wealth of high quality Scandinavian comics being produced.

So here are some pictures…

Everything went down in the Kulturhuset, or Culture House. A massive facility filled with galleries, theatres, and libraries. This includes Serieteket– Sweden’s only comics library. More on that later…
​Philippe and I at the Conundrum table. Philippe has paid his dues, so the patented Conundrum arm-crossing is optional for him.
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​Our gracious hosts take the stage on the opening night. From left to right: Patrick Linderoth (friend of Serieteket), Linda Gustafsson (librarian at Serieteket), Anders Lundgren (communicator at Serieteket), Ola Hellsten (artistic director and librarian at Serieteket) and Elin Jansson (friend of Serieteket).
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​When Anders dons the enchanted fez, he transforms into DJ Abominable Showman. No matter how hard you try, you will never be as cool as Anders.

​Friday brought us to the Canadian Embassy where we had lunch with some of the Swedish cartoonists, publishers, and Festival organizers. You can see Seth and D&Q’s Peggy Burns on the left, as well as me trying to remember my manners.

DSCN0856​Me, Philippe, Tania Van Spyk, Seth, Tom Devlin, and Peggy Burns posing with some Canadian comic books at the Embassy.2014 05 18 14 53 27
​If you listen closely, you can hear thousands of Swedish Kronor begging to be spent on comics.
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​Philippe talks with Uruguayan comics writer and letterer MaGnUs. MaGnUs was one of the most cheerfully friendly people I’ve even met. You can also tell this is near the end of the Festival, because we have very few books left. Always a good sign!
​​It wasn’t as packed as TCAF, but the crowds kept us very busy. I don’t think I ate or went to the bathroom for two days.
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​Ah, food! The Festival organizers kindly provided Laura and I with some tasty vegan snacks. They truly went above and beyond to make everyone feel welcome.
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I look calm, but getting to have a lengthy conversation with Seth was one of the most exciting highlights of the Festival for me. Seth has a remarkable ability to make everyone feel welcome, and he shared some insightful cartooning advice too.
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After the Festival, Laura and I were able to do some sightseeing with Linda Gustafsson.

We were given a tour of the Serieteket library with Linda, Ola Hellsten, and Helena Strömberg. A great deal of work, thought, and care has gone into this library, and it shows on every shelf.
DSCN1076So many comics, so little time.
DSCN1079Nice to see some friends on the shelves! Here is Julie Delporte’s Journal from Koyama Press.
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​And a translation of Berlin: City of Stones by my former teacher, the great Jason Lutes.
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​​Comics Heaven is a very nice comics shop with an exceptionally friendly staff.
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Laura does her best “doge” impression in a subway station. Such wow.
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​​Good advice from Leonard Cohen at Herman’s Vegetarian Restaurant. That said, I decided on the way to the bathroom to get another helping from the buffet, and it ended up being a great decision.
2014 05 20 16 47 47We saw some oddities at a curious shop called Larry’s Corner. Here, you can see a zebra with a rooster’s head contemplating a giant, floating grilled-cheese sandwich. Pretty self-explanatory, really.
DSCN1114​This was created by an artist who makes new toys by sewing together pieces of old toys and screaming nightmares.DSCN1256Here I am next to a model of the Vasa, next to the actual Vasa. The Vasa was a 17th century Swedish warship that sunk 1300 metres into its maiden voyage. It was returned to land over three hundred years later. ​This museum was absolutely amazing. I wish I had a picture of the full ship, but it’s way too large.
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​A gigantic sculpture of King Gustav Vasa at the Nordic Museum. He looks like a cartoon, which I mean as a compliment.
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​Drawing my daily comic while having my morning coffee.
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This building in Hammarby Sjöstad​ has a comic on it about how to make a baby. I think in the last panel the dad is setting the baby on the windowsill to cool. I don’t know, I didn’t read the rest of the comic, so I’m still not totally clear on how this all works.

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Two exhausted Canadians at the Arlanda Airport. Thanks again to our new Swedish friends for making this such a fun, worthwhile adventure! I can’t wait to visit Sweden again soon.​


Update – June 19, 2014 – I acknowledge the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting this trip through the Travel Grants for Professional Writers program.


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