Thursday, 20 May 2010


photo by Lilli Krõõt Repnau.

On the opendiscussion: (Literature meeting COMIC-SPECIAL, from series event "One crazy than another"was supported by Estonian Cultural Endowment), was participated by special guests of Comic Bienniale:

Mari Laaniste,
(the main theoretician in local field of comic.)
Andreas Trossek,
(Editor, critic of comic)
Sandra Jõgeva,
(curator and performance artist)
Joskaude Pakalkaite
(Lithuanian comic artist, squatter of London, having her own Comic label: "Comixally incorrect")
Ekaterina Dresvyanina
(Organiser of St. Peterburgs comic festival "Boomfest"),
me from side of Comic Bienniale,
David Schilter
(editor of Latvian comic magazine "kuš!"),
Joonas Sildre

ALSO ARE INCLUDED ALL OTHER GUESTS: I can mention also Ingrida Picukane, Latvian comic maker, living in Tallinn, Karl Erik Talvet, Artur Vincent Kerge, Ernest Truely, head of Finnish Comic Association Kalle Hakkola
and Aino Sutinen and Sanita Muizniece from Latvia. Also were joining Ülle Marie Kalda from media enterprice "Bulls Press".

Short overview the theme:
The main topic is developmentperspectives of comic medium. (In context of Estonia.) We skip the overview of current possibilities and try to make prognosis, in witch direction it could develop, let say in 5 years. In help of guests who share their experiences in developing contemporary comic scene. I will bring out main ideas and thoughts, sounded through.

Mari Laaniste explains the back story of poor comic culture: Estonia is so small (ca. 1 million inhabitants alltogether) that economical phenomenas make publishing and spreading of it, pretty hard. The big publishing houses are not interested in releasiing author-comics, same time there is no alternative opportunities for development. Artur brings out the paradox: The main big comic-publisher Egmont who in Estonia is releasing only crap is in other countries, (for example in Sweden doing good job to release stuff in multiple styles and categories.) Mari also brings out, that people prefere to buy already well known classics. And they prefere to buy the comics to their kids, which they were reading as they were kids, themselves. (I personally think that for selling comics in Estonia you better be dead first, but I do not say it out.) Same time Ülle Marie is optimistical, same as our Finnish guests. Things can be changed.

Dresvyanina Ekaterina from St. Peterburi Boomfest says: the situation in Russia is pretty much the same but not hopeless. She can bring out that the event they are organising has been changing situation already. Their festival takes place once per year. During 4 years and already they can see the progress. For the first, public attention in Russia and warm interest and support from festivals over Europe. The next Boomfest takes place on 10- 17. september 2010.

The next step she described as international cultural exhange projects. For example their next exposition is based on choosen works of famous russian absurd writer Danil Harms. But works will be choosen from Russian and also from French writers. It also gives opportunity for comparance: whos works are "better"? What is also extremely sympathetical that Boomfest pays attention that their expositions are not some kind of "secret meetings" but easily acessible in video, print, catalog and website.

What about artistical freedom and opportunities for artists? That can comment young ambitious and talented guest Yoshi. (Joskaude Pakalkaite). (Image below is cut from her comic "Pulling magic out of the air", presented also in Comic Bienniale.)

Lithuanian "comic scene" is pretty similar to Estonian one. Yoshi has found solution, she has opened her own small comic label "COMIXALLY INCORRECT", and its audience is not limited with Lithuania only and is small but stabile. She says, that in the beginning she also tried to offer her cowork to many- many magazines and she got many- many refusals. She recommends for artists first to publish their own works themselves. So more editors has oppportunity to see their stuff. Also to find out, whos taste matches, who thinks in same direction, to work together and publish the stuff. She is now working together with magazines: ("kuš!, Stripburek). (Óver here I suspect that hanging around the festivals could also be helpful and guests themselves admit it too....)

Book presentations are well done by Boomfest, for example the exhibition of their last publication:

Yoshi says, that "pulling yourself together" and publishing your stuff in own initiative is something she recommends also to the other young artists. She herself has plans to start publishing her own silkprint magazine. It will be in 2 colors, in silkprint tehnique and she will distribute in her own.

The closest place to Estonia, where local artists could visit and join is taking place in Helsinki: 10-12 septembril 2010. Organiser is Aino Sutineni, her contact is:

On the opening of Comic Biennial, was also published the artists book called "I Comic Magazine".

Sounds out question: Could there be some "real" comic magazine in Estonia?
Where local artists could introduce their stuff for the rest of the comic scene?
The answer to that question I get only 2 days later, when one of the participans of Comic Biennial, Edvin Aedma promises to "handle it" and become a manager of that project.
Me personally, I am supper-glad that comic magazine will be released not in capital, Tallinn but in Tartu, the place where actually the most intensive comic-related schooling takes place, in Highest Art School of Tartu. Also that place is gifted with a lot of talented creative minds.

I asked David Schilter, what is the most complicated part of making comic magazine?

He says that on the beginning they counted on sponsors. But sponsors were not happy at all with the result. They claimed that "kuš!" is too pornographic. (And he waved in his hands with pretty modest magazine, with typical author-comic image on the top-cover). Now the magazine is funded by local cultural endowments. He mentions good co-work with Nordic fund. But popularity of magazine is obvious, especially amongst the creators themselves: In every number ca. 15 artists are participating. Stories are in lenght of 2 or 4 or 6 pages. And there is an endless topic up about who is publishing their stuff over there. And the magazine is international which makes cowork and selection process of stories and artists interesting.

Kalle Hakkola, From Finnish Association of Comics points in same direction:
"Make your stuff acessible in international events. Spread your stuff in the understandable way and direct it to these who truely love and understand the craft. Do it atleast with translating your stories in english. Performance artist Ernest Truely disagrees: " If I look at comics, I do,nt want to see something, directed to me but something "pure". In point of this juxtaposition we finish the official programme.

On the next day Katarina from Boomfestist mentions some artists and artworks she likes. I do my best to deliver her their contacts. Same time she gives recommendation to other artists, deffenately apply with artworks to comic festival in Luzern. because their credo is to show larger variety of artwork and new incomers has bigger change to be "seen".

Katarina makes comic festival besides of her "real" job. In fact, running comic festival is her "real job" but by having real job, she can "split her office" inbitween two jobs, easily. By speciality, she is graphical designer. In other hand she has plenty recommendations, in case someone wants to dedicate in comicmaking "fulltime." Her advice is to join some "ARTIST IN RESIDENCE" programme, done specially for comicmakers. One in Angouleme.The databases of "AIR" programs are available on website: and

And on the evening, sitting behind the beer, smoothly comic magazines appear on tables and it is fun to look up, "who does what" and "why". I can only imagine with horror how on the next event they already talk about "horror-like trip to Tallinn, Ghost castle of abused comics".
The first comments about exhibition I have already recieved: "I would not bring my child to that event, you know..."

On the next day we meet up with Katarina from St. Peterburi comic festival Boomfest to visit bookstore.The store is "Rahva Raamat":

I turn to the shopkeeper: "I am sorry, could you please tell me, where are the comics, over here?"

The shopkeeper smiles and directs us to the shelf where is writen "HUMOR" on it.
On the top is laying a copy of Frank Millers "Sin City".

In every case I re-ask the shopkeeper: "But why are the comic books in humor shelf?"

The shopkeeper: "Well, I also have noticed, that books over there are not funy at all but thery ARE the comics, isnt it... that means they MUST be funy? There is nothing to do about it, that they have such a name.

We thank politely.

The choice of "humor" section is pretty good. There is Trossekis and Sildres "Compilation of Estonian Author comics", some kind of my thing, "Suburbian Hags", "Pesakond", "Bellybutton of the world" by Joonas too. Katarina looks the shelf over but as there has been nothing new released in 4 months, for her as advanced reader there is nothing exiting. I try to tell her backstories of most of the stuff, laying there and we move on.

She will not buy comics but a souvenir for his friend, who is crazy about bags. He supposedly is always waiting for his friends to bring one from the travel. Fortunately assortiment of bags in this bookstore is large, and she finds suitable one.

Foto by photographer of Culturefactory of Polymer. On the picture ir David Schilter, who waves with comicmagazine kuš! while explaining how he was looking for sponsors for the magazine.


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