Ulf Jansson is one of the best Swedish comics artists there is. He's got a strong, elegant ink line with a lot of energy and vitality to it, and an excellent sense of movement and attitude of the characters in his drawings. Working in a Franco-Belgian traditional humorous style, he'd probably be world-renowned if he'd been born in a country with more of a tradition of exporting its comics. He'd be an excellent artist for something like Spirou, for example, but as he was born in Sweden, that's unfortunately not going to happen.
So we'll have to make do with the many humor and humorous adventure strips he's created together with comics writer Magnus Knutsson, and I can live with that as they're usually quite good and worth your while, and the gag strips he's done on his own. One such was the 1979 Benke, a strip of single-page gags rather obviously inspired by Franquin's excellent Gaston but worth the read as the gags were OK and the art was excellent. It was published in the first issue of the comic book Svenska Serier, but sadly didn't come into regular production and publication.
Bengt Bouquet is a strip that wine aficionado Jansson does for the wine magazine he's an editor of, Munskänken (The Cup-bearer). It has now been collected in its first volume, Vinnörden korkar upp ("The wine nerd uncorks"), depicting the life of a somewhat fanatical wine aficionado. The jokes center on Bengt Bouquets neurotic relationship to wines, sometimes in connection with current events, and has the characteristic elegant Jansson drawings. Unfortunately, the jokes are a bit of the "inside jokes" variety – they aren't quite strong enough to stand on their own, and you probably have to be a bit of a wine nerd yourself to really enjoy them. I was a bit amused by most of them, sure, but the strip never really clicked for me.
|In this strip, a not-very-wine-knowledgeable couple decides to buy what the |
confident Bengt Bouquet buys, not realizing until it is too late that he picks
the very best and most expensive wines, making it waaay more expensive
than they expected.
So even though I think that any strip by Jansson deserves to be read at least once, I can't really recommend this (rather expensive, hardcover) book. Unless, of course, you are a wine aficionado yourself, and prepared to laugh a little at yourself and your hobby – or are looking for a present for somebody like that.