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Flying start

When Manuele Fior publishes Ikaros as his first comic in Norwegian, it comes at the same time with a new upturn for translated comic novels.


[comic novels] – A lot has happened in comics in the last five to ten years that Norwegian readers have not seen. Autobiographical flashbacks, comic book journalism and ambitious comic books, says Manuele Fior.

You may not recognize the name, but you know the line. Illustrator Fior has in 2006 made a strong mark on Ny Tid's chronicle and debate pages, but he is also a series creator. Now the Italian is celebrating 150 pages long Ikaros, his first comic novel in Norwegian.

- I have borrowed the structure from Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita, and weave together two stories: the Greek myth of Icarus, who tries to escape from the labyrinth he is trapped in, and the architect Faust, who tries to escape his mental labyrinth. If you look closely, you can also see that parts of the story take place in Oslo.

Fallen to death

Love brought Fior to Oslo, but Ikaros is a European release. He began to draw his red and black drawings in Berlin, while the comic book was published in parallel in Norwegian, French, Italian and German. It is also possible it will be a Spanish translation.

Ikaros is also a frighteningly good image of the Norwegian series industry. Icarus was trapped in the labyrinth of King Minos in Crete, but managed to fly away with wax wings. But the ambitions and the joy of success become too great. The wings melted as Icarus flew too close to the sun – and he crashed to his death.

The Norwegian series industry took off in the mid-1980s, with a bonanza of translated quality series: Maus, Watchmen, John Difool's Adventures, The Passenger of the Wind, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and the like. The industry also came too close to the sun – the market was saturated and collapsed around 1990. Since then, the domestic industry has built up thanks to government support schemes and successes such as Pondus and Nemi, while the translations have failed to keep up. But now the publishers are fluttering their wings again.

- It seems that there will be more translations of comic books in Norway than in a long time. We have three times as many as last year, ie three, says Espen Holtestaul in the mini-publisher No Comprendo Press.

No Comprendo started the wave with Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis last year, and the upbringing history from Iran has now sold 2500 copies. The new series wave competes on the book industry's premises, with thick and relatively expensive books sold through bookstores – rather than cheap booklets in the tens of thousands in kiosks and supermarkets.

comic Journalism

- In relation to what has been translated by foreign quality series in the last 15 years, you can easily call this a boom. Norway has been a developing country in relation to translations of quality series, and that in the course of a year there will be a handful of ok series in Norwegian should be the normal situation, says Erik Falk in Jippi Forlag, which publishes Ikaros.

No Comprendo and Jippi are not alone in the trend anymore, because this year the small publishers are getting more competition. Gigante Egmont launches the comic book book series Serial Work with Will Eisners A contract with God, Neil Gaimans Sandman and Jeff Smith's Bone in the front this summer. The serial comes with Frank Miller's Sin City and Mike Mignola's Hellboy, both recently filmed, while Gyldendal catches up with Joe Sacco's groundbreaking cartoon journalism in Palestine.

More translations

In addition, the Danish publishing house Pharaoh's Cigars plans to translate Alan Moore's Jack the Ripper opus From Hell into both Danish and Norwegian, while there is talk on the exchange of translations of Craig Thompson's 600-page childhood saga Blankets, the Crimean series 100 Bullets and Blacksad, the fantasy series Fables and new edition of the classic Watchmen. However, this is not confirmed by the publishing team.

- Everything indicates that the number of translated quality series in the coming months will increase dramatically, but whether this will develop into a boom depends on the publications finding a large enough market. I think it should consist of at least 10.000 – 20.000 who want to buy at least one publication a year, estimates Tor Arne Hegna, editor of

Manuele Fior is already working on his next comic book novel. Gioventu d'avorio ("ivory youth") becomes a depiction of growing up where pale youths along the Adriatic coast sink into a sea of ​​black clothes, Joy Division and heroin. He realizes that the Norwegian market is a bonus to count, because his main audience is on the continent.

- Norwegian readers miss many great comics from Italy, France, Spain and Germany. The Norwegian comic book world is quite closed, few have heard of comic book creators such as Igort, David B. and Gipi, and the audience is hung up on old trends, he believes.

He gets support from publisher Erik Falk:

- The fact that Norway is a developing country for translated comics means that readers must to a certain extent be educated when the good comics now come. Maybe you also need to recruit new readers – readers who thought they did not like comics after seeing what is on the Norwegian market.

Comic books pass the booklets

In 2005, the sale of collectible books passed for the first time booklet sales in Japan, at the same time as the market for comic books also expanded into the USA and Europe. In the United States, the turnover of so-called "graphic novels" increased from 75 to 250 million dollars from 2001 to 2005, according to the website Successful films such as Sin City and V for Vendetta, both based on comic book novels, have contributed significantly – in parallel with an explosive interest in translated Japanese comics.

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