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CREATOR PROFILE:

ANDERS NILSEN

Biography:

“Here’s my new life, what do you see? Giant clouds, passing over the city, filled with lightning. Precipitation. Rain, hail. A lot of wind. But above that, beyond the clouds, the sky is clear. It’s blue. The air is clean and the sun is shining. That’s what I will be in the future.”
Anders Nilsen, The End #1

Anders Nilsen (1973- ) lives in and works in Chicago, Illinois.

Essential Reading:


Big Questions
Drawn & Quarterly, 2011

A beautiful and minimalist story that details the metaphysical quandaries of the occupants of an endless plain, existing somewhere between a dream and a Russian steppe. A downed plane is thought to be a bird and the unexploded bomb that came from it is mistaken for a giant egg by the group of birds whose lives the story follows. The indifferent and stranded pilot is of great interest to the birds - some doggedly seek his approval, while others do quite the opposite, leading to tensions in the group.

Anders Nilsen says:
...for me the birds are evocative of innocence. They are very humble creatures, and when they get too big for their britches it is automatically ridiculous. In that sense I feel like they’re a good vehicle for talking about people, who also are very small, ridiculous creatures but have a way of forgetting that about themselves. We think our ideas about the world actually matter, that we’re important actors in the drama. We can see the inconsistencies in the birds’ ideas better than we can in our own. So they’re a useful mirror. But birds have a whole range of other symbolisms. It’s hard to avoid reference to the idea of transcendence, because they can fly. They also happen to frequently be monogamous, which most other animals aren’t. They can be adorable and relatable at the same time that they are beautiful, mysterious, and strange. Different species are evocative of different archetypes.



Dogs & Water
Drawn & Quarterly, 2004

Dogs & Water chronicles a piece of a lonely journey, without origin or destination. A young man wandering a nameless path has only a stuffed bear as a companion, which inertly endures his desperation, anger and musings along the way. The landscape is cold and bleak with few landmarks, and offers only precarious encounters with animals and armed men. These interactions are rife with instinct, the drive for survival, and human ethics concerning the killed and injured. He finds acceptance with a pack of dogs, though their nature is wild and their potential threat is as unsettling as the sudden presence of a massive pipeline on the horizon. In a dreamlike state, the endless land becomes a vast body of water where his boat is destroyed and his body floats in a subconscious space. On land, the road disappears and only blind circumstance remains. All is uncertain and all can be lost, but he continues on regardless.

Anders Nilsen says:
The story began as an allegory about the absurdity of being an artist. Carrying around this idea from childhood, this childish idea, of making it a life. And at a certain point I’d gotten out into my life with just this idea to hold on to, just faith, and no real good reason to think it would or should work out. I’d gotten far enough that I couldn’t really turn back, but I hadn’t actually gotten anywhere.



Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow
Drawn & Quarterly, 2006

Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow is a tender collection of letters, photographs, and drawings Anders Nilsen has compiled in memory of his fiancee, Cheryl Weaver, who died of cancer in November 2005. It is an appreciation of the time they shared together, and a heart-breaking account of the progression of her illness. From early love notes, simple and poetic postcards, and tales of their travels together in written and comics form, to Nilsen’s journal entries and drawings done in the hospital during her final days, and the beautifully rendered tear-jerking account of Weaver’s memorial, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow is a deeply personal romance, and a universal reminder of our mortality and the significance of the relationships we build.

Anders Nilsen says:
This story is, obviously, very personal, but ultimately I think it isn’t exclusive. It feels incredibly particular to me, still, but it’s just love and loss. And everyone, for better or worse, can relate to that.

 

Bibliography:

Books:
Big Questions (2011)
Monologues For Calculating The Density Of Black Holes (2009)
Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow (2006)
Monologues For The Coming Plague (2006)
Dogs & Water (2004)
The Ballad Of The Two-Headed Boy (2000)

Comics:
The End #1 (2007)
Big Questions #1-15 (1999-2010)

Short Stories:
The Game in Kramers Ergot (2008)
Mome #1-7 (2005-2007)
Sisyphus in Kramers Ergot Vol 4 (2003)
Birds in Kramers Ergot Vol 3 (2003)

Interviews:
The Comics Journal #270
Mome #7

Links:

Official Sites:
Anders Nilsen
The Monologuist Blog
The Holy Consumption

Exhibitions:
10,000 Buttons

Publishers:
Drawn & Quarterly
Fantagraphics Books