2022 — an (informal) review
Main image: Allan Haverholm, from Prisoner’s Cinema (work in progress).
How we got here from there
I never intended to launch Uncomics in 2022. After I’d outlined the concept in my 2018 Master’s thesis, I spent a year turning it into a series of PhD applications, but when Covid-19 hit none of those had paid off. Instead I turned my attention during lockdown toward recording the artist talks that would become the Uncomics podcast. At christmas 2020 I had all the interviews done, and a handful of them edited. I set my laptop to backup my work overnight, but when I woke on 24 December I found that somehow my entire hard disk was corrupted and inaccessible. Complete data loss.
To make a long story short, I spent much of the following year salvaging what I could with data recovery tools. I found some low quality exports of two edited talks and the raw recordings of most of the others. The last piece fell in place in late July when Aidan Koch managed to find her recording in a browser cache. For that I consider her the matron saint of lost causes.
By now a year had passed since the interviews and, feeling stupid and guilty for the lost time, I couldn’t find the energy nor the courage to get back into the editing process. Another December came around, and I had only caught up to my progress of the year before. Then came a message from CBA editor Mattias Elftorp: “Hey, can you put an anthology together on short notice?” And then the ball was rolling. On 20 December 2021 the call for submissions was posted, and by mid-March I was littering the book with references to the as yet unfinished podcast and to a site that I hadn’t put together yet. And yet the rest is documented in these web pages.
So if I’d had my druthers from the outset, Uncomics would have launched more than a year earlier, but it would have been an entirely online effort. If I hadn’t messed up my hard drive and spent a few months in a procrastinating funk, we wouldn’t be looking back on a year where I could present the three-pronged Uncomics gambit of the web platform, podcast and a very gorgeous print anthology. Regrets, I have a few — but I’m rather satisfied with how things turned out.
The Uncomics year rightly begins with the publication of the anthology in May, and the exhibition at Gallery Fishtank, Malmö the following month. The exhibition remains available for repeat showings in other venues, of course. Contact me for inquiries!
In October I paid a return visit to the Comics for the apocalypse podcast to talk about the Uncomics anthology and podcast. Apocalypse host Samuel George London is a lovely chap to talk to, and I enjoyed our talk as usual. From my recent reading, I had to mention Rosaire Appel’s latest publication, The other side of a family; Tana Ohima’s graphic review in RHINO Poetry of “Água Viva” by Clarice Lispector; and Spider by Gareth A Hopkins.
Since June the Uncomics project has been on Mastodon, and while the account posts only little original content, it’s a good alternative to RSS feeds for keeping up with this site and general news about uncomics activities. Several contributors to the anthology have also switched to Mastodon this year, so do join us there if you are so inclined.
By December, my article from the anthology was republished in Swedish for #233 of Bild & Bubbla, Sweden’s foremost and time-honoured comics journal. Between my contribution, the issue’s editorial, and an in depth review of the anthology by comics artist and scholar Gunnar Krantz, roughly a fifth of the issue was dedicated to uncomics. Not a bad outing for a one man project run on coffee and sleep deficiency.
And finally, although this only saw the light of day on 5 January of this year, RHINO Poetry editor Naoko Fujimoto had heard my appearance on Comics for the apocalypse, and became so interested in the field of uncomics she invited me to do a short Q&A on her Working on gallery. This “craft essay” section of her website is littered with fascinating artists of all stripes talking about their processes, and I was thrilled to be asked to join in. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to the year!
As you might expect there is a bit of pressure on to live up to last year’s output. I don’t have any current talks with publishers to follow up the Uncomics anthology, but I am planning and researching the second season of the Uncomics podcast. In the next round of talks I will shift gears somewhat and interview scholars and experts from fields pertaining to this expanded perspective of comics that I propose. Nothing is determined yet so I can’t name any names, but I think this series will move a few tent posts in terms of what “can” or “should” be considered comics.
In the intermission, you may hear a couple special episodes where I’ll talk to artists that I for one reason or other didn’t include in the first season proper. If you already subscribe to the podcast, those will pop up in your podcatcher as they are published. Otherwise, head to the podcast page and subscribe through your preferred means!
As for this site, I aim to write more regular and in depth posts in ‘23 than I could while I was frantically trying to keep pace with the podcast publication schedule. I have a few updates on the way about related research and arts projects similar in scope to uncomics, and I think it’s about time we drew some examples of fine artists into the discussion, too. I have a few in mind myself, and I’m happy to announce that Mark Badger will write a series of essays for uncomics.org about several artists and their works in an uncomics perspective.
I hope that Mark is just the first of new contributors to the website, making it more of a pluralist forum for exploring the intersection between comics and contemporary art. I cannot emphasise enough how important my conversations with artists have been in this process, both on the podcast and in editing the anthology. To this end I will put out a call for contributors in the coming months.
If you want to contribute to the site with an article, essay or — dare I hope? — a graphic review à la RHINO Poetry, send me a pitch or draft! I’m more than happy to offer comments or edits on applicable submissions.
If you’re just as happy just following the Uncomics project as it develops, welcome. The ride is just starting.
Happy New Year, everyone!