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Overview of Turku Comic Society

A new wave of comics rose in Finland at the end of the 1970s. Several authors broke through, underground comics were published, and comic-related events and societies were born. Turku Comic Society was founded by Marku Haapio, whose first event was a Tarzan seminar kept at The University of Turku (1974). The society was registered the next year, and it is the second oldest comic association in Finland.

Several small magazines were founded in Finland in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The 1980s were largely a silent decade for Turku Comic Society, but in the 90s several people who later became very important in the Finnish comic scene were active in the society. A comics-themed restaurant and a dedicated comics publishing house were opened in Turku. The Society published the Pehmeä pyramidi (Soft Pyramid) anthology (1990) and several Kyttyrä (Hump) magazines. The Kyttyrä (Hump) festival took place annually between 1990 and 1993, and was attended by e.g. Benoit Sokal, Albert Pepermans and Riho Unt.

Cosmic Comic Cafe, founded in year 1996, created a new public meeting place for comic fans in Turku. “CCC” was a new energy boost to the comic scene in Turku, but Turku Comic Society activated again as late as 2004, with the help of the Kvaak Internet forum. The society started biweekly gatherings. In year 2006, the Necrocomicon festival, the successor to the Kyttyrä festival was born. Both meetings and Necrocomicon are still part of Turku Comic Society’s repertoire. Nowadays children’s events are also held in cooperation with Turku city library, where well known comic authors introduce their work and give drawing lessons. Necrocomicon is arranged every year, and it’s promoted as the most relaxed event in Finnish Comic scene. The programme gives more and less well known Finnish comic artists and fans a possibility to meet, and also provides lectures, interviews, different types of shows, comic themed contests, and so on. Turku Comic Society has also published anthologies as a result of a contest held at Necrocomicon.

Turku Comic Society has published the Saakelikirjat series, consisting so far of seven
anthologies. The Saakelikirjat series presents comics and comic artists from Turku. The most recent anthology, Tois pual ruuttu: a history of comics from Turku was published in while Turku was European Capital of Culture in 2011, in order to present the history of comics in the city.

A new yearly event joined Turku Comic Society’s repertoire in 2009, when Turku Comic Society first took part in the international 24-hours comic day, founded by american comic guru Scott McCloud, in which participants are summoned to script and draw a comic of 24 pages. 24-hours comic day also inspires some people, who normally don’t draw comics. Another newish event arranged by Turku Comic Society is the comic quiz ”Rahat vai kolmipyörä” (”Money or Tricycle”), held in Cosmic Comic Cafe. The quiz was so popular that it became a regular part of Turku comic culture.

Petteri Oja, remarkable booster of comic culture in Turku, founded a comic shop called
Underground Attic in Turku. Underground Attic was a continuation of Zum Teufel Internet shop, also founded by Oja. Later, in 2009, Underground Attic was incorporated and had its name changed; Turku Comic Store was founded by a group consisting of nine comic pros and fans. Turku Comic Store became an important partner of Turku Comic Society. The Store has become another gathering place for comic fans, along with the Cosmic Comic Cafe. Co-operation with the Store ensures a new kind of visibility for Turku Comic Society’s publications. The Store shares its space with with Zum Teufel Publications, Lempo Publications and comics wholesaler Sarjakuvan Toivo, which makes it easier for small comics to reach the shelves of bookshops, store chains and libraries. The Store also arranges exhibitions in cooperation with Turku Comic Society. In Finland, a free and extensive library system greatly affects (?) sales and knowledge of literature. Readers become familiar with books or authors in a library and may buy them after that, through specialised book stores, or on the internet. For that, selection of normal book stores product turnover is quite a quick.

In 2011, when Turku was European Capital of Culture, Turku Comic Society participated with a project called Kohtaa Sarja Kuvia (Meet Series of Pictures). The greatest part of project were 50 ”traffic signs” made by 11 famous finnish comic artists. The project also contained plastic statues placed in parks with comics of five comic artists from Turku, an exhibition by Kaisa Leka in Turku city library, and beloved Finnish comic strip artist Pertti Jarla’s continuous comic being placed in the city ferry boat Föri. Mika Lietzén participated in the project with four-part work ”University students”, been set out in the windows of the Åbo Academy University, presenting university students of different time periods.

As can be seen, Turku Comic Society is a small, but very lively association. Everyone interested in comics is warmly welcomed to join us.

Publications of Turku Comic Society

Minä Tarzan: brought together from material of Tarzan-seminar of Turku Comic Society
(17.11.1974 in Turku). editor Markku Haapio. Turku Comic Society, 1974.

Kyttyrä : newsletter for members. 2/89. editor-in-chief: Sani Liljenbäck. Turku Comic Society, 1989.

Kyttyrä : comic magazine. 4/90. editor-in-chief: Sani Liljenbäck. Turku Comic Society, 1990.

Pehmeä pyramidi : Turku Comics anthology. editors: Sani Liljenbäck, Reijo Rouvinen. Turku Comic Society, 1990.

Åbotti huraa! (anthology, collection of comics from Turku). editor: Sippo Mentunen. Turku Comic Society, 2007.

Kaupunkeja (Cities). (anthology, collection of comics from Turku). editor: Sippo Mentunen.
Turku Comic Society, 2008.

Comix Aboensis (anthology, collection of comics from Turku). Editors: Sippo Mentunen … et al. Turku Comic Society, 2009.

Scifi : Turku Comic Society presents. (anthology, collection of comics from Turku). editor: Sippo Mentunen. Turku Comic Society, 2010

Sorsittujen esitaistelija ja muita kertomuksia. Turku Comic Society, 2011.

Tois pual ruuttu : comics from Turku through times. editor: Maijastiina Vilenius. Turku Comic Society, 2011.

Åbocalypse 2012. (anthology, collection of comics from Turku). editor: Maijastiina Vilenius.
Turku Comic Society, 2012.