Speaking at the Tampere Kuplii comics festival

Ryhmä-X 1/92 Cover
Ryhmä-X 1/92 Cover

A month ago I spent the weekend in Tampere, a city just north of Helsinki. I was asked to speak at the Tampere Kuplii comics festival about Marvel comics. I was given my choice of topic so I decided to talk about what Marvel taught me as a young child/teenager growing up.

You see, you could say I was raised by popular culture, because as a kid I didn’t get along with my mom and my dad always did long hours at work, so I pretty much spent all my time alone. During weekends and vacations I spent time with my aunt and sister and I must admit they have also been great influences in my life.

In fact, I’ve always thought of myself as lucky, having picked up only the great, open-minded values from the 80s TV and other popular culture. Maybe it was because I was bullied at school, I knew bullying and being mean to other people just because they were different from you was absolutely wrong, with no acceptable excuses. As long as you don’t hurt anybody else it’s really no one else’s business what you do or what you are. And luckily my aunt and sister also lived by that rule and also were “different” from the norm. Not anything radical, but my sister has always been an artistic personality and my aunt has always lived alone, which as a child was very interesting, and I love the fact they both made me think about life choices and that you don’t have to follow the norm, but can really live the way you like.

But that’s enough of my relatives. One of the bigger influences of my life were the Marvel superhero comics. Oh, the horror they were for a young teenager trying to figure out what it was to be a woman. Yet at the same time especially the X-Men comics did hold many good values that are useful even today.

Cover of Ryhmä-X 7/1988
Cover of Ryhmä-X 7/1988

Thinking about what to speak of at the festival I decided to go through two comics, the Marvel 7/88 and Ryhmä-X 1/92, because there really is no better way to make my point than to let the comics speak for themselves. The first one showed all the good things and the latter one all the bad things. Since it’s going to take some time before I get to year 1992, the latter comic has one of those “girls’ night out” type of stories which are always horrible. Both stories were written by Chris Claremont and where the first magazine treated all the characters as equals, the latter one is such a horrible example of sexism and ridiculing both the female superheroes but also the readers as the story’s bad guys are a sort of a Ghostbusters team hunting mutants, being just the type of nerds who probably were the people reading Marvel comics. It’s, by the way, also the first story where Jubilee appears. The best part of the story is when Rogue calls Ms. Marvel “that American slut” (fin. “se amerikkalainen lutka”). Nice… @.@ I wonder if she said that in the English original, too.

Anyway, if you are interested, my husband took a video of my speech, but ran out of memory and thus the video lacks the last 10 minutes. If you happen to have the whole video of my speech, please share the link with me! Also the funny noises you hear in the background are from a man who sat behind my husband and fell asleep, snoring aloud through the whole thing. :”D That was so funny. The rest of the crowd did, however, stay awake and seemed to have good time and laughed a lot. The presentation is in Finnish, but in case you can’t understand Finnish, I will be going through the magazines in the near-ish future here on my blog and will most likely go through all the things I said in Tampere.

Mummies!

Since we were in Tampere and there also happened to be an exhibition about ancient Egyptian mummies at Museum Centre Vapriikki we had to visit it. The exhibition was small and didn’t really offer any new information to me, but who cares. I love watching ancient Egyptian items as they are so beautiful. I also photograph Egyptian texts, because I like to think that I’d try to translate them on my own just for fun and practice.

Anyway, at the exhibition I noticed this absolutely gorgeous piece from a child’s coffin, I suppose (I seem to have lost the photo with the info on the coffin). Oh, the details are just lovely. <3

Ancient Egyptian coffin's feet.
Ancient Egyptian coffin’s feet.

Ancient Egyptian superhero Ankhtifi of Mo’alla

And talking about ancient Egypt, I have to mention a fantastic autobiography I’m translating at the moment. That of Ankhtifi of Mo’alla. He was a warlord who lived during the First Intermediate Period (2160 – 2055 BC) in Egypt when Egypt was under turmoil and suffered from civil war. You wouldn’t believe how cocky this guy is. He brags and then calls out: “I am the man!” And he refers to himself as Ankhtifi the Strong. I still have the last half of the 10th inscription to translate, but according to Miriam Lichtheim’s translation (1988) he’s going to call himself a champion who keeps nightly vigilance over his nome. Amazing! <3 <3 <3

And just as an extra, here is me dressed as Mystique for a superhero party next door.

Mystique
Me dressed as Mystique.

The X-Mummies Advent Calendar! #15

15/24

While drawing this image below, I got into thinking about the male image in superhero magazines. I’m not going to go very deep on this, as I’m suffering from a horrible stayed-up-too-late-hangover (I swear, I drank no alcohol, I’m just getting old!) after my student organization’s Christmas party yesterday. But back to men and muscles.

Well, like almost all artists do, I looked up some reference photos for this drawing. I had seen this most amazing photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s back on Netflix for Pumping Iron, but I couldn’t find it with easy googling. Instead I found some other images of him during his bodybuilding career. Google also found me  pictures of some meat heads grinning their teeth together and stretching their muscles to the point it looked just ridiculous and quite sad. But the thing that struck me was that Arnold used to be unbelievably beautiful in his youth. Whereas most body builders look just weird and usually have unproportioned bodies, Arnold looked relatively slim and tall even though he had these huge muscles.

And the one point which made me think of the many horribly-gone-wrong drawings from the late 90s superhero comics, were these grinning bodybuilders whose pectorals look like they are ripping off from their bodies. So ugly. Whereas Arnold had these soft, lovely, smooth but still huge pecs. Honestly speaking, I find bodybuilding ridiculous most times, but looking at Arnold, he had an eye for beauty or most likely he had the most perfect genes and that’s it.

So while I was admiring (not drooling, strictly for aesthetic reasons) pictures of the young Arnold, I drew this image of Colossus, who must have been originally inspired by Schwarzenegger. For the love of those muscles I decided to leave this one without colours as I was sure I’d mess it up. And sorry for the cheesecake expression. I haven’t drawn anything in such a long time I seem to have lost the control over my art. It’s like, I find it easy to draw basic stuff like muscles etc. which are hardwired in my brain and my drawing hand, but if I have to draw anything more complex I find I truly struggle with it. I should definitely draw more often. This advent calendar has been a great way to force me to draw. I should do this more often.Colossus Peter Rasputin