A VIEWPOINT TO FINNISH COMICS BY KARI T. LEPPÄNEN

   

 I have been a Finnish comics artist since 1972 and best known of my artwork of the Phantom comics.

During my childhood and youth I was enthusiastic reader of comics - I read all the comics which I got

in my hands. I was mostly interested of the adventurous comics and started to do my own when I was

only eight years old.  When the style of comics in Finland sadly changed during 70s and more repulsi-

ve later and still worse to this day, I was very disappointed of this unpleasant evolution of the comics

future in my country.  This article is the result of my bad feeling of what is going on in the business of

comics in Finland.  But at first, let us take a look what Finnish comics were earlier ...

                    The oldest national comics in Finland were rather simple and only cartoons... 

                                 

                                   The oldest found Finnish cartoon made by Heino Aspelin 1908. 

                                                     

                                                                                        Hjalmar Löfving  1925

             

              Very popular cartoon Pekka Puupää (Peter Woodhead) was published as long as 1925 - 1975 by a Finnish artist Ola Fo-

              gelberg and after his death by his daughter Toto Fogerbeg-Kaila.  Based on this cartoon was made several black-and-

              white movies during 50s.  There will be later more about the funny hat that Pekka is wearing.

                                                                     

              In 30s more cartoons, but also comics came into public and the first Finnish adventure-comics were born.

                                             One of the most talented cartoonists was Poika Vesanto :

                          

                                                     Poika Vesanto 1934 and the cartoon  "Captain and Ville".

                          

                          Another cartoon made by Poika Vesanto was started 1932 and was his most favored.

                          It was the only Finnish comic that resembled American cartoon style in that period. 

                          One notable detail in his work was that he started to use bubbles while Finnish car-

                          toonist during that time were using mostly text under the drawings. 

                      

                        Finnish cartoonist and illustrator Erkki Tanttu made the pictures in a popular cartoon cal-

                        led RYMY EETU which was another long-lived cartoon published 1930-1973.  The text was

                        in the form of a poem - like another popular Finnish cartoon KIEKU ja Kaiku. This example

                        of Tanttu´s cartoon is from the year 1944 and below another very loved cartoon made by

                        artist Asmo Alho and famous Finnish writer Mika Waltari.  It run as long as from 1933 till

                         1975.  The text was also in the form of a poem.

                                                

                                                                     

                        Then it was time for more realistic and natural way made adventurous continuing comics

                        to emerge in Finnish comics genre.  A new era of comics in Finland has born.

                       

                            INSINÖÖRI KARIN SEIKKAILUJA (The adventures of engineer Kari) was one of the

                            earliest naturalistic comic and this page is from 1938 and made by Eeli Jaatinen. His

                            main comic work was KESKELLÄ VIIDAKKOA (In the heart of Jungle) and an exmple

                            of it is below... Jaatinen was also a painter, illustrator and cartoonist and made many

                            book covers... Although Keskellä viidakkoa was made in 40s Jaatinen still used the

                            older style not using dialog bubbles. 

                                                    

                                                                Eeli Jaatinen: Keskellä viidakkoa 1942 - 1943  

                             Soon other artists also brought their natural adventure comics. One was a talented

                             young artist Kari Suomalainen,  who became later famous as a political cartoonist

                             in Finland`s biggest newspaper.

                       

         Kari Suomalainen: Henkensä kaupalla  1942 - 1944                              Ami Hauhio: Koltan perintö 1947 - 1950   

                                               Kari Suomalainen was in Finland´s Continuation War as a TK-artist and during 1943-

                                               1944 he also made his most known comic  "Välskärin kertomuksia" ( The Tales of  an

                                                Army Surgeon") after Finnish writer Zacharias Topelius.

                                          

                                                  The comic was published five years later in a magazine "Lukemista kaikille" and

                                                   also later in Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.      

          Ami Hauhio , a versatile artist  was one of the most noted Finnish comic artist of 40s and

          50s. He was also the first to introduce science fiction as Finnish-made comic. It was cal-

          led MAAN MIES MARSISSA ( An Earthman in Mars) ) and it was published as a continuing

          serial in 1940 - 1941.  After that he made also other science fiction comics.

                    

                                                                            Ami Hauhio:   MAAN MIES MARSISSA 1949     

                     

                                                                           Another page from MAAN MIES MARSISSA          

             

             Another comic of Ami Hauhio : The Last of Mohicans  1951             Also another artist Martti Viitala made comics at same time:

                                                                                                                                         An example from 1947  comic VAAROJA PÄIN.

     

                                             One of the few Finnish comics artists who made ascience fiction comic was Eugon Meuronen

                                             whose comics-working period was 1942-1965. These two are examples of his artwork.

                                        

                        During 50s ,  the Golden Era of comics  also other  Finnish  artists made  comics and  at the same  time more

                        comics were coming from outside countries, mostly from USA , England and also from Italy. This has its effect

                        to comics made in Finland and only a few artist were good enought to have their works published among the

                        abundant foreign comics.

                                       

                                                          Some of the published comic-magazines full of foreign comics from 50s. 

                        A great number of comic magazines were launched in those years, all full of foreign comics and the business

                        was very popular during those golden days of comics.    In 60s when most earlier pioneers of Finnish comics

                        had gone there was only handful in business and the most known were Tove Jansson with her Moomin and

                        Veikko Savolainen with his Joonas.  As a profession the comic artist was almost unknown until we came to 70s.

                               

                                        Tove Jansson: Moomin 1947 - 1961. After that his brother Lars took care of the comic.

                                        The comic was published in 60 other countries.

                         Presently died Veikko Savolainen, who used  artist-name "Joonas", was my close friend and made a long

                         career as comics artist.  His first comic work was published in 1945 and after that he made many  different

                         comics till his retirement  in 80s. Best known are his popular comic "Joonas" and cartoon "Unto uneksija".

          

                                        Veikko Savolainen:  JOONAS                                                        Veikko Savolainen: UNTO UNEKSIJA

                                  The decade of 60s was very quiet for Finnish comics. Those few who  tried live of making co-

                                   mics were forced to do other  illustration works.   In late 60s and all  70s underground-comics

                                   magazines were growing which mean that new younger enthusiastic  artists  had their forum

                                   to have their comics published.  Only few of those were professional material, but having their

                                   homemade comics published  in those shabby undergroung magazines it strongly urged them

                                   go on with great hopes to be famous.

                                    

                                                                                 THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED !

                            Beginning of 70s a Finnish artistic museum launched a exhibition of comics and

                            it was a success.  Suddenly national comics  became to public interest  and this

                                   spurred  to fond a Finnish Comic Society to support Finnish comics.  But most important was

                                   that the biggest  company  that was selling comics in Finland decided to launch an All-Finnish

                                   comic magazine.

                                   It was called SARJIS   ( a shortened slang-word  from Finnish  word "sarjakuva" which mean

                                   "comics") .  The most known Finnish comic artist Veikko Savolainen was the editor of the new

                                   magazine and contacted other professional comic artist who had been working during 60s to

                                   make comics to SARJIS, and handful of new ones from the samples mailed to publisher.  Only

                                   six were accepted  to make comics  to new magazine,   and that simply told what the situation

                                   was really in Finland during those days.  Only two,   editor incuded,   were known  comics ar-

                                    tists which was the situation in 60s and early 70s.    Later a few more  was  found among the

                                   avalance of comic samples that mail carried to the magazine`s mailbox. Moreover only two of

                                   the artists in SARJIS were drawing realistic,  natural type of comics,   other were cartoonists.

                                   This phenomenon has always been typical in Finnish comics. 

                                   But the publicity of  Finnish comics that the magazine spread was a start of new-coming for

                                   national comics in Finland because most of the new artists soon became professionals and

                                   have worked since in the business till this day.    They carry on with  dignity the  tradition of

                                   the pioneers of Finnish comics started from 30s till 60s.  Harmless entertaining comics with

                                   no criticism toward anybody nor other means to use comics but just for honest fun.  Of cour-

                                   se one of the SARJIS artists was an exception - artist who published political satire albums.

                                                             

                                     At the same time  more  underground  magazines were  publishing  growing amount of co-

                                   mic  works made by enthuasistic diletants who wanted to be real comic artists.  Like home-

                                   made writers Finland was also suddenly full of homemade comics hobbies.    Many of those

                                   shabby fanzine  magazines were founded by new small comics societes around  the country

                                   and the interest of comics and  even making those brought  diletants and comic fans together

                                   like in a sort of common conspiracy, often despiting the oldfashioned professional comics.

                          And that was one potential reason for the radical change of comics in Finland.  

                                       The story of Finnish comics and the situation to which it led you´ll find from

                                                             another subsite by clicking the picture: 

                                                                   

                                                                                                      CLICK