THE GREAT TECHNOWHIZ
This is the second part of my first Gnuff story. I had won my spurs with funny animals doing duck stories and two Woody Woodpecker albums well received, and now I would try my luck with my own series.
I was backed by Interpresse editor Henning Kure, who would expand his line of new produced album titles, and why pay Lantz a royalty when we could keep that for ourselves? Publisher Arne Stenby accepted that, and given a neat sum to make these two first albums, they came to have some extra production value.
However the accept from the usual Semic partners to print these albums was not easy to get across. Several years passed before published abroad, and in the meantime, I had started doing Gnuff for the Woodpecker magazine, alternating with my Woodpecker installments.
Actually, in the correct reading order, this album is the third story. In ‘The Gnuffs Move in’ we see how the dragon siblings come to live in the town. This second installment of my first story is from 1980, and it strikes me how foresighted I was. In those days, it was no obvious matter with the full scope in digital revolution, so Gnicky’s helper came to represent the transition from analog technique to the speedy all-knowing apparatus that could solve all problems, not least the difficult storing of all the old paper routine within city administration. Later more people would be able to catch up on the symbolism. Furthermore, Gnicky’s vacuum cleaner gadget, an old Nilfisk design, also represented the future in the way of artificial intelligence. Science fiction motives were not hard for me to whip up. I had read more than a hundred SF novels when I was young. One more thing I predicted that has not yet come true is that your pay card given an indication that prevents you from the purchase of alcohol or ot
This concept is clearly one of the most ambitious I have taking upon to handle, but looking back it is also quite adult in the references. Admittedly, it is a fairy tale and parable, as all good funny animal stories are, but it strikes notes, that not all kids would go for. I had stories grabbing on to important motives in my earlier album attempts with funny animal stories, but they were easier to identify with for a younger audience.
Disney had drawn down upon the age group reached with their funny animal stories. The consequence was, that most everybody looked upon series made in that design as kid’s stuff, not worth the attention of grownups in the seventies. The more mature readers did not discover my innovative story matter in a design like that, and the kids would probably have preferred something more childish.
The fate with me during my career has been, that I aim for an older public than my style of presentation suggests. I guess that might well explain why I have not been a major success. Besides, the appeal of funny animals were generally in decline during the seventies and thereafter.
What came to happen with the Gnuff series was, that I continued it on a lower budget for the Woodpecker magazine and ultimately Kim Thompson’s Critters, and so the production value in the following episodes could not match that of the first two albums.
The albums published, ultimately, in Scandinavia and Holland, but they did not have the Woody name to boost the sales, so they did not fare that well economically. Still, I have just issued album 18, so there came to be a regular long lasting series with the Gnuffs after all.
Now I see, that the use of dystopian subject matter I use today in my literary books go back to my comics’ days, where a good many motives deal with matters turning wrong in society. I use these things differently nowadays, yet it is the same thing, a warning about tendencies on the way of deteriorating our society.