THIS MONTH, local comics publisher Top Shelf is pushing a handful of freshly translated independent comics from Sweden—dubbed "The Swedish Invasion," AKA the least-threatening invasion ever. We took a look at a few of the autobiographical comics in the mix: Mats Jonsson's Hey Princess is about "indie pop-listening young people," while Simon Gärdenfors' The 120 Days of Simon is about a comics artist who spends four months sleeping on his fans' couches.
120 Days is a fast, infuriating read: Gärdenfors is apparently enough of a celebrity in his home country that he's got plenty of fans willing to share their food/drugs and proffer up the odd one-night stand, and his book amounts to little more than a catalog of various excesses. His drawings look like wide-eyed, Lego men, and the illustrations are matched by a glibness in tone that makes 120 Days almost immediately forgettable.
Hey Princess is much the better book. As he bumbles through interactions with the opposite sex, Jonsson's willingness to make himself the butt of the joke goes a long way toward mitigating the self-seriousness of what is otherwise a standard hipster-coming-of-age-by-boning-chicks indie comic (see: Jeffrey Brown blurb on back cover). The translation is stiff, which makes reading the comic feel a bit like watching a dubbed movie—but as an added bonus, I did learn the word buksvågrar, which means "two men who have had sex with the same person" (literally: "abominal brothers-in-law").