Books Features

Cartoon tracks

{mosimage}Comic artist and illustrator Marko Turunen (b. 1973) recently
received the much appreciated Puupäähattu Prize handed by The Finnish Comic
Society. His latest album
Lihat puntarissa (Meats On the Scale)
combines ordinary with extraordinary, animal figures with domestic violence and
alcoholism, all served in fiercely bright colours and flavoured with black
humour. “My mother has told me that life is suffering and so it is meant to
be”, Turunen states appropriately, “but I refuse to see life merely as a
painful journey”.

Turunen continues by describing
life as an absurd theatre play, which is the way it appears in his comics as
well. The characters include a small but sadistic bunny who kills and practises
wild sexual relationships, a dog who is attracted to a squirrel and a jealous
giraffe who drinks too much and hits his wife. The topics are sometimes
difficult and even cruel, but mostly the cartoons only depict what is happening
inside our homes all the time.

However, the carefully added humour,
in addition to the sympathetic animal characters, together make the atmosphere
occasionally lighter and reader friendlier. For Turunen this is a conscious
effect, but he denies ever trying to please the masses.

“My continuing guideline is to
make pure comic, in which the graphics and the text complement each other”, he
states. “A completely functional result is more important than the question
whether anyone is able to enjoy it in the end.”

Indeed, for Turunen his art is also
very personal. He includes a great deal of real life events into his comics.

“In a way, the books function as
note tags on life. I also wish for the books to appear as historical documents
and to portray the period”, he concludes.

The documentary nature is visible
in Turunen's elaborate usage of actual place names, buildings and labels. These
he records through photography, since he feels bothered by the attention that
public drawing awakens.

Whether Turunen enjoys the
attention or not, his work has become widely appreciated, even outside Finland.
Some of his comics have been translated into English, French, German and
Italian. Turunen however seems to enjoy the independent underground status of
Finnish comic scene. Together with Annemari
Hietanen he runs a small publishing company Daada Books.

The name Daada comes from a radio
programme, in which a little boy called and complained that his mother was
making him wear a daada-shirt. When asked what this meant, he replied by
explaining that a daada-shirt was way too small and ugly. The story gives a
very modest impression of Turunen and his work, but even small characters and
ugly topics can have a massive impact.



Can you identify these three
tracks of very common Finnish animals? Here is what Marko Turunen came up with
(the correct answers can be found at the bottom of this page):

1. jättiläiskarvatasku (giant fur

Eats potatoes and wood. A
familiar sight around piles of firewood, sheds and potato cellars. Not
dangerous for people.

2. putkipiru (plumb devil)

Eats human beings. Enjoys large
population centres. Lives in sewers and plumbs.

3. lehtokääpiö (grove midget)

Rests during summers and eats
hibernating bears during winter time.

Correct answers: 1. field mouse
2. squirrel 3. hare

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