The bags have arrived!
James Turek talking about the Millionaires Club Comic festival
& Martin Becker reading from his new book ‘Der Rest der Nacht’
with Susann Hildmann & Sandra Kaiser
I met Roope Eronen, Amanda Vähämäki and their kids at the Fanzines! Festival in Paris last year. I was extremely excited since my favorite comics are from finland. We had a table together and went out with the whole Fanzines! team every night where we had a ton of fun talking about comics, beer and puke. Roope drew some of my favorite comic books such as ‘KOIRANKAKKAA’, ‘ELÄIMIÄ’ and ‘OFFICES & HUMANS’ which are published by Huuda Huuda. Papier Gache recently released ‘Foxette’, a great comic that came with a cassette Roope recorded.
I can’t believe our luck: Roope is going to come to Leipzig for the TMC 2014!
You are one of the comic artists from the KUTI KUTI crew which brought finnish comics into an international focus. Can you tell us a little bit about the ‘Kuti Kuti Story’ and how it is working for you today?
Kutikuti started in 2005 first as a studio of about 7 comic artists. 2006 we started also to publish the free comics tabloid Kuti, from which we are best known about. Around same time Kutikuti started to organize exhibitions, and started to be more and more like a collective. Later we also bought a silk screening machine, but the seri-studio or ours was never succesful. No one had the time the machine would have needed. So we sold it, and now we have very small facilities for printing. We hope to get to print a lot with them in the future.
Kutikuti was a studio until about 2011, and we moved a couple of times. But around 2011 we had about 15 people in our studio and it was too much mess etc. So we quit being a studio, and moved to a few different studios (now we are all slowly packing in one of them again…), and Kutikuti started to be more like an association. Now we are going to renovate that association to a more open and professional association and agenture. I think there are now about 20-25 people in Kutikuti.
How come finnish comics are so wild and awesome?
Maybe because of the social security system… You can afford to be an artist in Finland because you can still get support from the state if you’re poor. It’s not too nice life with all the bureaucracy but it’s still possible to live without a real job. I don’t know how it’s going to be in ten years, probably it won’t be so easy to be an artist anymore…
But well, many comic artists have another job, so i don’t know how come there are so many good authors here. We have quite sweet water, could it be that? Or then because we don’t have so strong tradition’s weight on us.
Most of your characters are animals altering between cuteness and being shitty. Why do you chose to draw animals?
And do you have any idea why comics and animals are going so well together?
It’s probably a coincidence that I’ve drawn so many animal comics. I did a couple for the early issues of Kuti and then got more and more ideas for animal comics. Also people liked those comics and supported me to do more. Also I’m not too good in drawing people, but I’m learning!
Well there’s a long tradition in animal comics and animal stories overall. So it’s deeply rooted in human culture. I think the animal characters are more universal and easier to use as more neutral figures to represent ideas. But I don’t know if the wall painters in Lascaux thought it that way. Maybe they did?
You’re very much into music, too. Can you tell us a little bit more about your own music? And what’s the hottest stuff you’re listening to right now?
I’m playing improvised music at the moment with bands Avarus and Keijut. I used to play with bigger variety of instruments, but now I’m only playing synth. I’m not saying I’m master of any instrument, I’m actually not so good player in traditional way (but I’m learning!). But I’ve improvised a lot with these and some other bands. The bands’ music has been mostly experimental free music, coming from nowhere and going anywhere. It’s very hard to do it live, but super rewarding. Also in my solo shows I’ve wanted to have a big level of uncertainty and improvisation, getting myself to pretty uncomfortable situations. But when you manage to make great music in a situation like that it’s incredible! On the other hand if you miss your train it can be frustrating, embarassing and depressing.
I’m also making solo recordings as Nuslux at home, then I sometimes even make compositions. And sometimes I record some experiments. You can listen to some of these in Nuslux’s soundcloud. Avarus is now playing almost weekly which makes me happy. I’m also super excited about Keijut, that’s more bound to making audiovisual super experiences with light, projections, special effects and synths.
I’m listening to a lot of music! Especially I like many kinds of electronic, experimental, psychedelic and free music. But lately I’ve been more and more into library music (Roger Roger, Nino Nardini, Fabio Fabor, A. Alessandroni, Joel VDB etc). Also I’ve enjoyed exotica a lot lately, especially Eden Ahbez which I’ve been listening to every day for a little while. Somehow I’ve begun to like easy listening too, more and more.
Just two real nerdy questions at the end of this interview: what kind of pens and paper are you using?
And what’s your favorite kind of beer in the world?
I’m using almost any 0.3 - 0.5 mm black pens, brown Stabilos and Letrasets for colours (when colouring by hand). I’d like to learn how to use ink.
I like many kinds of beer, but I’m most excited about Belgian ales.
Thank you a ton, Roope!
also check Roopes Flickr out
KUTI KUTI is damn cool2!
Jutta is the best! Since over 20 years she is part of the publishing house Reprodukt and the coolest person you could ever meet at a comic festival. She didn’t lose her passion for comics, punk rock and parties even though she is in that business for so long. Officially responsible for Reprodukts PR she is as well editing, translating and curating great comic exhibitions.
Reprodukt is one of the most influencial comic publishers in Germany when it comes down to north american, french and indie comics. If there weren’t the books Reprodukt published I wouldn’t draw comics today.
We are so glad that Jutta is going to hang out, drink and party with us again at the TMC 2014!
Can you describe a typical day in the Reprodukt office? How many people are working there?
Days in the office can be pretty different, also the number of colleagues present differs. We are between 4 - 8 people now, not all of us working full time. A day when new books arrive from the printer is far mor exciting than just another day full of those office duties. Fresh books always cause a lot of suspense: Is everything okay? No wrong colors, poor binding, or whatever mistake is possible….? I think we have seen all possible faults on book production. Apart from that it’s just a normal office, people sit staring at their computers. I like to curse a lot, just for fun, but try not to, because some colleagues find it annoying. Sebastian and Christian love to hear strange music. Sometimes one of our authors drops by - that always lightens up our daily routine.
What was the first comic that put you guys up on the map?
The German translation of “The Death of Speedy” by Jaime Hernandez, part of the “Love & Rockets” series, when the brothers let go of the science fantasy part and concentrated on mexican-american life in the outskirts of Los Angeles.
What were the first comics you really wanted to translate into german?
Definitely “Love and Rockets” by the Bros Hernandez. And that stuff still looks cool, after more than 20 years. Those black and white comic series about life in Hoppers by Jaime and the wild stories from Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez dealt with all the important topics. Punk rock, sexual identity, migration, racism, friendship…. We really thought people had just waited for the German editions (well, at least I was pretty convinced that readers would love them). It turned out that most fans had already bought American editions, and the others did not care too much. Anyway it was absolutely the right thing to start publishing with ”L&R”.
Are you willing to share a fun story from the early punk rock days of Reprodukt?
Hm, I guess I have forgotten most of the real punk rock stories… In the 90s the comics scene in Berlin was pretty small and we would meet the same crowd at every opening or book release, drinking far too much and listening to loud music. Nothing special…
Okay, here is one anecdote about Julie Doucet’s visit to a comic festival in Hamburg. Approaching our booth where Julie was signing comics I overheard one guy asking his buddy: “Look, isn’t she that porno bitch from Canada?” Back then comics fans really were not all used to women at comic festivals, except inside the comics.
Whats the least fun aspect about publishing comics…please limit your answers.
It is not so easy to refuse some of the work that people show us who would like to publish at Reprodukt. There is so much talent around during the last years that we cannot publish all of it. We still are a small independent publishing house and cannot put out more than a certain number of books each year. We try to support young artists where we can, but anyway, our possibilities are limited.
What are some of the titles you are very proud of over the years?
The first comic I have edited and translated was “Konstellationen” by Debbie Drechsler, “Daddy’s Girl” is the original title. It’s a comic on the subject of sexual abuse in families, a topic which still is a kind of taboo.
I generally like it that we have published so many comics by women from very early on, which was not as recognized as common as it is nowadays. Also I am still a big fan of “King Cat” by John Porcellino. I am happy that we were able to publish several issues of “Orang”, though it is not me who can be proud of it. It is the work of Sascha Hommer, Arne Bellstorf and the other editors. Also the “Donjon” series is big fun to me… There is a lot more, far too much to name them all.
If Reprodukt had a mascot what would it be?
Hm, for me most probably “Hasenhäschen” by CX Huth. Every colleague would name something different here.
And the beautiful red fox from “Jane, der Fuchs und ich”, a new book which we will present at The Millionaires Club, could be a perfect mascot for Reprodukt.
We are looking forward a lot to TMC!
Thank you so much Jutta! We can’t wait to see you again!
Till might hate to hear this but he is one of my favorite comic artists in the world. His book Rezzo & Elisabeth (published by Avant) will be out right on time for the Millionaires Club 2014. He is mainly known as a co founder of The Treasure Fleet (a great collective and indie distro based in Berlin) and for his mini comic series Zirp. When I first read Zirp many years ago I was extremely touched by the characters and their relationships. I am very happy that Till is coming to the Millionaires Club 2014.
Hi Till, how was it for you to bring Rezzo & Elizabeth from your continuing series Zirp into one complete book?
When avant-verlag told me they wanted to collect the story of „Rezzo & Elisabeth“ in a book I was quite happy but also a bit nervous. Obviously that had always been an option for the future, to collect some volumes of “Zirp” in bookform but I had not been paying much attention to the idea of a bigger audience. Through selfpublishing I did not have to compromise my work at all, so it is still very personal and probably not for everyone. Now with a publisher it will get (slightly) more exposure but there is also some responsibility to them. I don’t want them to get bancrupt over this odd (but hopefully compelling) book.
The world Rezzo & Elisabeth are living in seems to be some kind of a nightmarish place even though you drew a very pretty environment around them with islands and their house in the countryside. In what kind of a world and state of mind are these two living?
Here is a map of the setting. A few fictitious islands and some smaller towns on the mainland, that probably exist somewhere. It is a big mixture of some real spots that I am familiar with (my favourite library e.g.) and some others that I am not familiar with at all (Oceania). As for the mood: Right from the beginning Rezzo & Eisabeth`s reationship is doomed. She is stuck in a monotonous and unsatisfying job. He is glued to the tv, suffering from some undeclared exhaustion. Perfect conditions for an adventure story.
Which artists have the biggest influence on you and your work?
Ron Rege´s “Skibber Bee Bye” and everything Elvis Studio does.
For Rezzo & Ellisabeth especially: “Ballad of the Salt Sea“ by Hugo Pratt, Akira Toriyama’s “Manga Zeichenkurs” and the paintings of Henri Rousseau.
Can you tell us a little bit about The Treasure Fleet and how the collective works for you?
The Treasure Fleet does not really work as one. It is still in the experimental stage I guess. We struggle to work on something collectively. Maybe we do not have to. I see us more as a publishing group. Individually we produce some of the most interesting zines and minicomics of today, gather them for book fairs and festivals and present them to an audience. I see us as a collecting point for the works of likeminded artists. The display of a local scene.
You are a big fan and collector of vintage computer games. The aesthetics of them is unbeatable. Do you have any clue why the graphics of so many game apps must be so painfully ugly? And would you be willing to play an ugly smartphone game even though it could be fun?
I am a fan of videogames in general: they do not have to be vintage (but it helps). I am not a real collector though. The gaming has always been most important to me, that’s why I love emuators. I do not need to own the real thing (but I’d like to).
I don’t do much gaming on my phone but I am sure there are some nice games around. As for the ugliness: They are all pieces of art and the grotesque certainly has it’s place in art.
For nerds only:
What kinds of pen and paper are you using?
Nib pen (Hiro Leonardt N°700), Canson technical drawing paper (Papier Lisse Blanc Technique), Rotring Rapidographs and some fineliners latey, because I started using curve and circle templates.
What’s the biggest shame in your book shelf?
My bookshelf has no shame but one thing I certainly feel a little uncomfortable with is Vice Magazine’s book of “DOs & DON’Ts”
What’s your favorite computer game of all times?
„Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders“ is a perfect game. Not ony the graphics but also the storyteling make it worthwhile and very inspiring.
For “Rezzo & Elisabeth” I looked more at the artwork of classic japanese plattformers from Taito or Hudson Soft like „Parasol Stars“ or „Adventure Island“
Thank you Till! See you in two weeks.
you will find more of Tills drawings on his website
The very first time I met Jho was at the Rolling Stone Cafe in Jakarta, Indonesia. We immediately had a good time talking about comics, Jakarta and how small the comic world around the globe is. Two weeks later Jho invited me to a comic meeting somewhere hidden in the meandering streets of Jakarta. I got sick the night before but wanted to go so badly and stumbled pale faced and sweating behind Jho and her friend to the meeting. The Comic artists around Beng Rahadian and the DB Komik crew gave me a great and heartwarming inside view of their work. I was impressed by the amount of work and the wild range of drawings and styles. In march I can only try to give something back: I am very glad that Jho is going to attend the Millionaires Club!
The Millionires Club 2014 tables are all filled up! Thanks to everyone who expressed interest, hopefully next year we can fit more than just 30 exhibitor tables. See you there! -TMC
… planning this year’s Festival /w Haifisch on Skype!