INTERVIEW, Stripburger št.
INTERVIEW WITH MAX ANDERSSON
I suppose SB readers need no introduction about you. One thing that probably fascinates them about your stories is that they seem kinda out of this world. There's almost like a certain Andersson universe that you depict in your comics... Where does it come from, where do you pick the pieces to construct it. It almost seems to me that you worked once in a laboratory or had weird collections as a kid.
The strongest cultural experiences I can remember from my childhood was the Disney version of The Jungle Book and Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. If you mix those two you probably come pretty close to the foundation of my artistic universe. It's also possible to trace influences from the geography of the place where I grew up, which is an island in the Baltic sea, not the famous one where Ingmar Bergman lives but the one next to it. It's totally flat and only bushes and weeds grow on it, almost like a desert. From our house it was about one kilometer to the nearest neighbor's house, and about three kilometers to the nearest village. I still have problems drawing trees. I don't know what they really look like.
A lonesome childhood...hm, that's how a lot of people start drawing comics. One of the influences was also the Balkans in BFD. In your view quite a different place from the calm nature of a lonely island. It seems quite strange for me that so many people got hooked up on Balkans and they just keep on producing strange works about the place I find so ordinary. What is the thrill, the exoticism of this place? And why the Balkans acctually?
When we were travelling with our
Bosnian Flat Dog show and the Tito mummy we once stayed with Igor
Hofbauer (look at page 2 and on), a comics artist and poster designer
in Zagreb. He started telling us stories about Sweden, where he had
just spent a month with his girlfriend, and how completely fascinated
he was with the great industrial ruins of the iron mines which stand
completely deserted since the 60's and 70's out in the woods there. I
had never thought about that, because Sweden seems so boring to me that
don't expect to find anything interesting there. Meanwhile, we were
driving around the Balkans looking for decaying buildings from the
Socialist 60's and 70's and ruins from the civil war! I don't think
it's nostalgia or exotism, I think we're all just desperate for
something authentic instead of the mass produced monoculture that's
taking over everywhere at present.
Good answer. I personally think that for some reason the Balkans caught the eye of western comic artists as it represents for them this strange place where dreams and reality coincides, where there is still authenticity to be found. I think there's a little bit of Zograf in this. And in BDF as well. Did anybody complain about the BDF. Saying that it was wrong to do it, not corect of you or something like that? The characters of Radovan Karadzicd widows of Srebrenica would in any other context probably cause some complaints.It seems to me that the story is told without any guilt, remorse. A sort of a post-apocaliptic, amoral world that we so often meet in your other comics. A post war society almost looks like a playground in BFD.
It's true, the book is just as much, or even more, about our own personal universes than it is about the Balkans. We just used it as a screen to project our subconcious worlds on. The reviews of BFD in Sweden were pretty confusing. Quite a few seemed to feel that we were violating the borders of "good taste" and that we were exaggerating and making fun of things that can't be made fun of. Some were actually complaining that we didn't clearly take sides and didn't put all the blame on Serbia etc. Interestingly, the journalists who were offended and claimed that we weren't concerned about "the truth" were the ones who didn't have any personal experiences of their own from the region. The ones who had, on the other hand, all wrote positively about the book. I think some of this has to do with the general misconception that comic books are still supposed be mainly a superficial and humorous medium. It wouldn't occur to a lot of people that maybe we weren't trying to be funny. And in order to enter the world of the unconcious with any kind of openness and honesty, one has to leave all cocepts of morality at the door because although they look nice they're pretty much useless in there.