If the kids are united …
Scandinavia’s largest country is Sweden. It emerged in the 11 th century when its two largest viking clans – from the west and the east – were united as a royal kingdom legitimized by the christian church.
Fredrik Sjöholm from the east – were Sweden’s capitol Stockholm is situated – and Jan Kustfält from the west coast city Göteborg (Gothenburg), both cartoonist, have merged just like the two ancient viking clans. It was dur
ing the last hours of the book fair in Göteborg they ran across each other. With an earlier collaboration pieces fell into places for the cooperation with the webcomic »Biff Zongo«.
– The rest is legend, according to Jan.
Webcomics from Sweden is pretty unusual. Still. There have been a lot of attempts. But very few have succeeded.When Biff Zongo hit the market it was an immediate success. The twisted and sick humor from Fredrik, combined with Jan’s easy and popular cartoon drawings has proven to be the combination.
Biff Zongo made its first appearance when Fredrik made a single Biff Zongo strip for Rene Engström’s webcomic »Anders loves Maria«. A strip he draw himself. But though he continuously wrote a lot of material, it was the only one he ever drew. The time wasn’t just there, and with a full time manager job it was not likely to ever do. But still, though he never got time to draw, those ideas would not stop popping out of his head.
So, when Jan then came in to the picture the knots really loosened. Jan created a new design for the figures and structured Fredrik’s chaotic idea sketches. Jan was no stranger to comics. He had drawn as long as he can remember, but always wanted to do something serious. But whatever he did, it always came out like funny figures.
In 2003 he took a comic course. Lecturer was Johan Cedmar-Brandstedt, one of the founders of the swedish comic collective »Nasses Nekromantiker« (Minions of Death Piglet) and later on responsible for the webcomic »Death Piglet«. During the course he was sucked into the collective, being a faithful member ever since.
The Nasses Nekromantiker collective is a quite interesting phenomenon in Sweden. It originated as an anti-movement against the narrow swedish comic climate. It was basically founded at the geographically northern of Sweden’s two scholars in comic. Its members could easily be described as nerds with no pack to follow. So they became their own pack. Disliked by the the establishment. But so far they have filled an important gap in the swedish culture with their artwork and their love/fascination for fantasy-horror-scifi-comedy. Mocking Disney, on their knees for Lovecraft, mainly. But really, they have a room for just about everything. And for everyone. No one was excluded; since the snobs wanted no part in their movement.
So after all, it makes sense that Fredrik – who describes himself as somewhat of a comic loner in the capitol town – teams up with a necromantic. Fredrik had previously publicized a comic fanzine in Sweden called »The soulful moods of Frank« who he gained an certain underground reputation for. The design style was very simple and flirted a great deal with arty stuff. But Fredrik’s humor was everything but »arty«. »Infected with a decease« is more of an correct description. Cause it is a sick humor that makes its way out of Fredrik’s pencil. He wants us to laugh, but not without choking on our laughter.
The danish paper Jyllands-Posten antagonized radical muslims and made itself an whole lot of an international enemies. Fredrik and Jan is not there quite yet. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they one day were. And it probably wouldn’t be the muslims who were out to get them. If they succeeds it would probably be »the politically correct«.
Read Biff Zongo twice a week at: WWW.BIFFZONGO.COM