Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Nemi collection hits the UK
Visiting my local Waterstones yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see Titan Books have recently launched the first UK volume of Nemi strips by Norwegian cartoonist Lise Myhre. A surprise because Amazon and Titan's own website states the publication date to still be several months away (March 2008). Hopefully this quiet release won't affect sales too much, as Nemi has the potential to be as huge a hit as it is in Norway.
Goth chick Nemi Montoya first appeared in the Norwegian comic Larsons Gale Verden in 1999, a 44 page monthly reprinting Gary Larson's Far Side strip along with other American strips such as Dilbert and originated Norwegian material. (Such collections of newspaper strips are very popular in Norway and Sweden.) At the time Norwegian comics were undergoing something of a renaissance and Nemi (pronounced "Nemmi" by the way, rhymes with semi, not "Neemi" as some think) was a strip that appealed perfectly to the cool young adult readership and to the growing Goth culture. Not that Lise had manufactured it that way, but because the character was created from the heart. Nemi Montoya was a character who refused to reject the childlike wonder of life but who also had an astute view of the world, resulting in a strip with streetwise wisdom and real laugh out loud moments.
Nemi's success was amazing to behold, but not unexpected. The strip appeared daily in one of Norway's top newspapers Dagbladet, (and is now in 60 newspapers worldwide). The popularity of the strip soon saw 32 page softback collections of Nemi strips, then a monthly Nemi comic followed (mainly featuring Nemi strips plus other material chosen by Lise, including reprints of EC comics, Liberty Meadows, Lenore, and others). Lise herself, a thoughtful, articulate and genuinely funny person, appeared in numerous tv and media interviews, crowds of comic fans would thunder towards her panel interviews at the annual Raptus conventions, and she was voted "third sexiest woman in Norway" in Mann magazine in 2002. A true comics superstar with the celebrity status only enjoyed by a few.
From when I first saw Nemi on a trip to Norway in 1999 I thought it would be perfect for a UK audience and although I can't speak Norwegian I made a point of picking up the Nemi comic on every subsequent trip. Lise made a few black and print outs of some translated strips for her English speaking friends, but regular Nemi was what we needed. A few years ago the free UK newspaper Metro began to run translated Nemi strips on a daily basis, and they can be read online here: http://www.metro.co.uk/nemi
Titan's Nemi collection takes the exact same format as the Norwegian hardback Nemi books and as such is perhaps the most impressive book that Titan have released so far. With 144 pages in full colour, the contents are a mixture of gag strips, the 15 page Free and Fearless story from 2001, various Nemi covers (proving Lise's impressive design talents), and a short interview with Lise. Priced at just £9.99 this is great value.
Interestingly, the book's cover (a piece drawn in 2002 for one of the early softbacks, seen below, left) is censored for Titan's version (below, right), - Nemi's cigarette has been deleted. (Although she is shown smoking in the interior strips.)
Hopefully, Nemi will be available to buy online soon, once the "March 2008" date is rectified. Until then, if your local bookshops don't have it in stock, give them the order details ISBN-10: 1845765869 or according to Metro, "Metro readers can buy the Nemi book at a special price of £8.99 including P&P (RRP £9.99) by calling 0870 423 0682".
Above: Lise Myhre in 2003 at the Raptus comics festival in Bergen, Norway.
Interviews with Lise Myhre:
UPDATE: As if by magic, hours after this blog appeared Titan have updated their info and the book is now available to buy directly from them online: