Pencilled pages from "Decalogue for the Jantelaw"
TØ: Your first professional comic was a syndicated realistic
action newspaper strip from 1972 called Zenit. What happened to this
FM: Willy Falkman from Bulls Press came to my door the day after my strip
had taken over the place after Al Williamsons X9 Secret agent Corrigan
in the big newspaper Jyllands Posten. He would like a contract on
the syndication as well as an option on everything I would create
in the future. I respectfully declined on the latter, but the attempt
to distribute the strip failed as well. And since Jyllands Posten
only paid me the measly sum they had paid for X9, I could not continue
the series, so it lasted less than a year. But looking back I can
see I learned a lot.
TØ: Was Zenit printed in other newspapers abroad or in magazines?
FM: Some episodes were printed in my own magazine, Sejd, and some
in a short lived Danish comics monthly many years later. Now I'm
them one by one on my homepage, and the first long double-episode
will be out there by my update in 2009. There is also on my site
an episode I did in colour way back.
From 1974-1975 you had a different series called Hairlock Shomes.
What was your experience with the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?
My childhood reading included all of the short stories with Sherlock
Holmes, and later I had affection for the films, where Basil Rathbone
portrayed the shrewd detective. The idea was executed in the beginning
with Magnus Knutsson as a scriptwriter, and we shared the same tongue
in cheek relation to Conan Doyle's stories. It took place while I
worked in Sundbyberg in Sweden at the Semic Press studio, and they
were initially printed in the by-weekly Seriemagasinet. I recently
found out that they had been published in Finland as well, but no
one told me about that nor paid me for the reprints. The same can
be said when later the bulk of them were presented in Denmark under
the name of Sheerluck Homes. The two remaining old episodes will
be presented at my homepage in 2009.
In the same period The family Gnuff was created, and that series
became better known abroad. Was this series somehow influenced by
From you, that is a rhetorical question if ever I heard one! But
for the record: Yes, childhood reading furnished the emotional background
to try to create a continuation of stories done in his storytelling
tradition, and I felt more at ease to do so with characters, where
Barks had not put up standards never to be surpassed. So looking
back it is safe to say, that on my own I accomplished better results
with Woody Woodpecker and the Gnuffs. I have now a nice fully developed
universe around the dragons due to the fact, that there are 18 albums
made already - and none of them display a treasure hunt, mind you!
I am beginning now to present them with English dialogue on my homepage,
so that non-Scandinavians will be able to consume these stories in
To duck-fans something revolutionary took place in the early 70'es.
A fanzine called Carl Barks & Co was created. Where did the idea
I had read American fanzines, such as Funnyworld, where Mike Barrier
gradually completed his Barks index. When that was done, I made a
Danish version with some Swedish references as well. I wrote it on
after hours at the Semic Press studio in Sundbyberg when working
there. It was an instant success and was reprinted a number of times.
Later I saw the need for more issues with articles and interviews
on animation in comics and in films. The beginning of the 70'es was
a period, where people found interest in forms of mass culture earlier
to be disregarded, so there was a huge felt need on more information
on popular mass media products. They even inspired to some left wing
university studies, where many comics were pointed out as a capitalistic
manifestation. That attitude later dwindled, but it was the reason
for sharp political interest in the 70'es.
Carl Barks & Co was without doubt the most serious magazine on
the duck interest in Scandinavia, probably in Europe as well. In
issue 9 you even went into artists identification with an excessive
index. Where did you get to know all this at this early stage?
Primarily it came from US fans and fanzines. I think Cartoonist Profiles
was the main source.
Already from issue 10 in 1978 there was a Danish index on US comics
with artists identification! That was quick! Where did that kind
of info come from?
It was the faithful and thorough Martin Olsen who carried out the
indexing at that time before the development of Inducks got under
way, so he was responsible for that kind of research. Also he had
a huge collection of the US comics on his own and a fine connection
to fellow collectors.
In Carl Barks & Co issue 8 from 1977 you had an interview with
Daan Jippes. Was that the beginning of the co-operation between the
two of you?
Almost. Our working together started the year before, but that interview
was carried out in Viborg, where we did the 10-pager A clean case
of Competence together. The article on that process is printed here
under English Stuff and also in the Danish and Norwegian versions
of The hall of Fame book containing our mutual contributions to the
How did you carry out your work? Was it in Denmark or in Holland?
Apart from the episode mentioned above, the communication was carried
out through the mail, where comments and drawings were sent back
and forth several times. It was before the invention of E-mails and
phone calls were expensive. In the meantime I was working on Woody
How did you get into the world of Disney and how did you come to
do your first Disney comic?
The interest was nourished by many years of comics reading from my
early age of childhood particularly of course the Barks stories,
but eventually I developed the urge to contribute with some stuff
of my own.
Before the Dutch connection gelled, I had some more or less futile
contacts to Gutenberghus and Mondadori including some tragic misunderstanding
concerning a long epic story initiated by myself, but that is water
under the bridge now.
How much has that Dutch production amounted to over the years?
Well, more that 500 pages I think, but most of it is run-of-the-mill
short stories of little consequence. However there would be quality
items enough for one more Hall of Fame book, if the chance should
occur. In that case I will allow the duck version of The big Sneeze
epic to be reprinted, which fans have requested. I am reluctant though,
since it contains the origin story of one of my dragon characters
and I have later included an extended version of that story in my
Gnuff album series.
In the early 80'es you continued your work with the Gnuffs and albums
with Woody Woodpecker were published. Was that your most productive
My production has been more or less stable over the years, as you
can see from the indexes on my work. I am a workaholic just like
Barks and I experience a special kind of quality time when working
with my comics, regardless of the way they are received or the monetary
outcome of it. And that is an advantage these days where there is
no financial motivation to make epic comics any longer in Scandinavia.
I am told the Gnuffs also made it over the pond. It is quite seldom
for European comics to be accepted in the USA. So how did that happen?
I had an early contact to editor and columnist Kim Thompson, who
has partly Danish ancestors. He works at Fantagrahics in Seattle
publishing the major American magazine on comics, The comics Journal.
He contacted me when they planned to issue a funny animal monthly
named Critters. Ingo and I even designed the logo. In that magazine
he found room for some of the Gnuff stories from the Woody Woodpecker
magazine as well as some other episodes made after the Woodpecker
monthly seized publishing in the mid 80'es. The episodes published
in Critters were translated by Dwight Decker, and he also did the
American dialogue for The happy Water and The coming of the Blot
now being presented on my homepage.
Have you worked with other Disney-artists than Daan Jippes?
I know from the dutch office Ben Verhagen, Evert Geradtz and Jan
Kruse, and then of course I have a very rewarding contact to the
Danish Gorm Transgaard, who has taken the new name of Tarit now living
in a alternative spiritual community in the rainforests of Costa
Rica. Yet he makes very fine duck scripts, sometimes with an edge
to them, and in the work I have done with him I have maintained the
quality of the visuals from his elaborate scribbles, which no other
artists has done. I take this as a prime reason for the eventual
execution of a Hall of Fame book on the co-operative efforts of him
and me. They could fill a volume that would stand out with our mutual
personal touch intact and furthermore form an exclusively Scandinavian
addition to the Hall of Fame book series.
Are there other artists than Carl Barks who have influenced your
style of storytelling or drawing?
When it comes to humanoid caricatures, I guess I have learned something
from the Marcinelle School of comics with André Franquin as
the figurehead. In the style of realism I was quite impressed by
European album artists such as Hermann Huppen, Jean Giraud and William
Vance without insisting, that they have influenced my own style very
much. In the field of newspaper adventure strips it was mostly Al
Williamson and John Burns, who influenced me. Speaking of epic newspaper
comics, there was once a whole range of very fine daily strips that
has now sadly disappeared. I worked on the rearranging of panels
from these strips for the reprints in Swedish comics magazines at
the Semic Press when I worked there, and I have a fine collection
of these 100 page magazines from the 70'es containing fine contributions
in art- and story.
During the 80'es your stories reflected more satire and social comments,
such as Villiams Verden and the Dekalog-series. What was the reason
I felt the need to tell some stories, where the funny animal style
did not seem quite useful. Apart from that I have always had an urge
to express an opinion on contemporary matters. Now had I been writing
literature or making films such ambitions might have been appreciated
maybe even cherished, but in the world of comics it seems to be only
broad comedy and simple action the public goes for
Have you always been writing the scripts for your own comics?
Almost, but I have illustrated a very fine old Danish mouse-tale
from the mid 19th century, The mouse Book, by Karl Henrik With. He
was a contemporary writer to Hans Christian Andersen and I continued
that story with a mouse-album of my own on the descendants of these
ancient mice from Rynkeby. I read that story as a child and was taken
by the strong atmosphere in the presentation of these mouse characters.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
Usually I come up with an idea or a theme that I think would work
well in comics. Right now I am working on a which-way album, The
M'umbo Jumbo Crisis, where six subsequent negative interactive choices
will launch a terrorist action in subway of the capital city of a
western country. The event triggering this suicide mission is a naïve
drawing of a spiritual guru of foreign cult. The followers of that
cult are very annoyed, so they want to carry out some heavy punishment
on this decadent western country. Does this ring a bell? Well, if
it does, I might not fare well making a straight one-lined realistic
story out of it. But here the comics medium comes in handy offering
the opportunity to handle this tricky subject with grace. Using funny
animals and fairy tale symbolism combined with the multichoice network
of different story developments I can haul this treatment into the
clear without insulting anybody. So this is a good example where
epic comics is the perfect and possibly only medium of expression
to handle this questionable kind of story matter.
To day which-way albums is the forum, where I can use my comments
upon contemporary social motives in a funny context. My album Sort
Hul is dealing with the possible rise and fall of a music band, and
I manage to combine most of the possible career choices in the interactive
network for this volume. The advantage is, that you can jump from
one crisis or conflict to the next without wasting much time and
space in between, so it becomes a compact collection of climaxes!
All artists have their personal style. If you take over a strip from
others, or if more artists work simultaneously with the same characters,
they must appear to be the same. Du you have to work a long time
to apply these abilities?
I guess that would depend on the nature of your talent. A versatile
talent such as Daan Jippes might adapt to a given style or design
in no time at all and maybe even show a result that surpasses the
predecessor in dynamics and expressiveness. A good thing he never
became an art forger, because he would have been able to carry that
out to perfection! To more ordinary craftsmen it takes a while to
adopt to the characters created by others, and personally I am glad
I got free hands to develop my version of Woody Woodpecker the way
I did, because I was then able to carry out a better job on this
Have you experienced some extraordinary moments of sensation in your
career that you would like to point out?
There have indeed been striking moments, but I would like to mention
a special one from the visit of Carl Barks during his Europe Tour
When arriving in Copenhagen he was asked, if there were certain persons
he would especially like to meet. He then replied, that he would
like to see me. So I was invited to his secret hideout at the Phoenix
Hotel one morning. I brought along my younger friend Gorm Transgaard
for the occasion, and I simply don't remember what we were talking
about, since we were both baffled by the uniqueness of the situation.
We were painfully aware that this would probably be a once in a lifetime
opportunity, which of course it was. Therefore we would very much
like to have a photograph taken with him and us, but we dared not
reveal ourselves having such a fanlike attitude! But we were saved
from a dismal outcome of this moral conflict when Barks finished
our session by asking if HE could get a picture taken to commemorate
our meeting? This broke the ice, and Gorm brought forth his camera
as well, so we could walk out with this memory on film together with
a couple of signatures! The photograph was included in the issue
of Carl Barks & Co after the visit, where we compiled essays
from writers from each country of his tour. This late issue got sold
out, maybe it was because it was written in English.
Any other good stories at the end of this?
Well, I recommend a visit to my homepage, where in June I will submit
an update as heavy as the one I made as a gift to my readers last
year celebrating my 60 years jubilee. The entry, English Stuff, will
then include two - three hundred pages of comics in English as well
as articles and comments and English language videos. It will take
several hours to consume all that, and I am sure there will be a
number of laughs to go with it as well