PRESS RELEASE 7 June 2023:

The 38th Helsinki Comics Festival brings exhibitions, international guests, a tattoo studio and a Batman-themed speech karaoke event to Töölö

Helsinki Comics Festival will be held for the 38th time at Korjaamo on September 16-17, 2023. Finland’s most international comics event gathers 9,000–25,000 visitors every year.

The themes of the 2023 Helsinki Comics Festival are travelling and German-language comics. The themes are reflected in the programme and the presence of several invited guests. Comics from both major publishers and small press zines are on display.

Prominent artists from the Finnish and international comics field as invited guests – Kimmo Lust, who won the 2023 Comics-Finlandia award is this year’s festival artist

Comics artist Kimmo Lust has been selected to create the visual identity of Helsinki Comics Festival 2023. Lust is known as the creator of the 2023 Comics-Finlandia-winning work Silmukka. The themes of Lust’s comics mainly revolve around mental health and sexuality. The brutally honest stories are based on Lust’s own experiences. When Lust heard that this year’s theme of the festival was travelling, he immediately had the idea of a cat-like character who sees time flowing before his eyes. “The cat’s heads are snapshots of the character’s emotional reactions when he finds himself at the centre of unexpected time travel and the world opens up before his eyes,” Lust explains.

Leading Finnish comics artists such as Mika Lietzén, Matti Hagelberg, Janne Parviainen, Tiitu Takalo, Jyrki Nissinen, Heikki Paakkanen, and Aapo Kukko will be interviewed on the festival many stages, as well as the best artists and professionals of the international comics field such as Miguel Vila (Italy), Edith Hammar (Sweden), Anja Dahle Øverbye (Norway), and Saskia Gullstrand (Sweden).

Paul Gravett (Great Britain), known for his comics theory and other non-fiction books, presents his book on Tove Jansson’s life and art, which has recently been published in Finnish. The Cursing Hedgehog created by Milla Paloniemi turns 20 this year, and at the festival we will get to hear about the hedgehog’s life and Paloniemi’s ingenious brand.

 A Batman speech karaoke event will celebrate International Batman Day

International Batman Day is celebrated on the first day of Helsinki Comics Festival. The Batman-themed short film Crime Alley from 2022, directed by Pekka Paalanen, will be shown at the festival twice, on Saturday as well as Sunday. Last spring, the film was awarded the Verso award for ecological production at the Tampere Film Festival. Saturday night culminates when visitors get to express their inner Batman in the Batman speech karaoke event organised at the evening club.

The festival offers activities that are mostly free of charge for both children and adults. The program includes workshops, artist interviews and panel discussions, comics readings and much more. During the weekend, you can watch Cosvision ry’s cosplay show, challenge yourself in a drawing competition or get a tattoo at comics artist Apila Pepita’s pop-up tattoo studio. “We wanted to make this year’s program fun, and we added surprising elements to the traditional sales tables and panel discussions,” artistic director Athanasía Aarniosuo explains.

The popular small press event Zine Fest is also organised as part of the comics festival. This year, too, it gives out awards to a small press publication as well as an online comic.

Exhibitions play an exceptionally big part this year

From Korjaamo, the festival will spread throughout the city to galleries and other exhibition spaces during September and October.

“Both myself and producer Ella Tahkolahti have a background in fine art, so building a big satellite exhibition programme made sense. In addition, I was inspired by the exhibition-oriented Fumetto Comic Festival when I visited Lucerne, Switzerland in March,” says Aarniosuo.

Invited guests have their work shown in several different exhibition spaces, for example Swiss Andreas Gefe’s exhibition in Stoa loft gallery, Samira Belorf’s (Switzerland) exhibition in Kalasataman seripaja gallery and Sheree Domingo’s (Germany) exhibition in Käpylä library. In addition, exhibitions are organised by e.g. Marijpol (Germany), Janne Parviainen (Finland), Sanna Hukkanen (Finland), the international Zoras collective and festival artist Kimmo Lust.

The festival’s working group has also curated a group exhibition in The Store exhibition space and an exhibition of works created during a comics course for seniors, organised by the Finnish Comics Society.

Contact information and interview requests:

Ella Tahkolahti

Athanasía Aarniosuo
artistic director

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