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This is the comments section for the (food) comic website Mostly About Food.

Here you can read my notes on the comics (as well as other subjects) and write your own comments.

Deadly Mushrooms, Chapter 1: Bullet in the Head

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:46:02

(Posted originally on November 27th, 2007)

The first chapter isn’t even close to being finished yet, but I still wanted to write a couple of words about it. Right now it doesn’t seem very food-related, but just bear with me, we’ll get there.

Originally I wanted to maintain a certain level of realism to this story, but after having talked to an actual police officer, I had to give up much of that. The way the police works in real life just doesn’t fit very well into this one, so I have to make up my own standard operating procedures for Copenhagen City Police Dept. As it seems now, the only factual element of the story will be the environment – an existing city named Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

The inner workings of the characters will be discussed later. I can reveal so much that I have named pretty much every character (except detective Kofoed) after people I know, although first and last names are mixed. But that is not to say that I’d copied their personalities in those characters as well… That is to say: any likeness or connections to real people, live or dead, is strictly coincidental.

My Favourite Poison

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:45:13

(Posted originally on October 14th, 2007)

It’s pretty painful to admit that finishing this little comic took me over four months. That’s one third of a year. I’ve already tried to come up with excuses for my laziness, so let’s not get into that anymore.

Even though this one is merely 22 panels long, it’s been a motherfucker to draw. I drew only quick sketches, if that, on paper and then built the pictures in the computer with a drawing pad. That was a whole lot of work, even if I cheated by drawing on photos in some cases. I don’t think, I’ll try to do pictures like these in future – it’s way easier to draw stuff with clear, thick outlines on paper, scan and then colour them in PaintShop. Or then I need to buy a drawing tablet with an in-built screen.

The story isn’t really that much about coffee, as it is about the difference between Monday and Sunday – and how my spring was like. Every morning you do the same thing, but some days it’s just not at all the same.

I found it suitable to add an alternative version of this comic. Just in case someone doesn’t appreciate the rollover feature, or it for some reason doesn’t work for someone.

Boudin Noir

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:36:13

(Posted originally on May 3rd, 2007)

The drawing and publishing of this particular comic has taken a very, very long time for a number of reasons. To be more precise that number is three. The first one is, as mentioned before, my disproportionate work load. The last month or two I just haven’t had the time, strength or opportunity to draw much. But that part will be fixed promptly.

The second reason is the length of the comic itself: weighing in at a whopping 65 individual panels, it is by miles the longest comic that I have drawn for this page so far. So actually, since it is almost three times bigger than an average four-page, +/- 24-panel, one-page-a-week MAF-comic, it is only naturally that it takes almost three months to finish it.

The third reason, and the excuse for the irregular posting schedule is my decision to publish this one in four varied-lenght chapters, instead of one page per week, as is customary. Since it is an action comic, I wanted each chapter to end with some kind of a cliffhanger.

But the explanation to the comic itself? Why all the guns and the blood and the gore? To be completely honest, originally my ambitions as a comic artist had nothing to do with food comics. I wanted to draw and write adventures, full of action, sex, violence, surprising plot twists and witty criticism of our modern society. I wanted (and still want) to make the new Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen, only without superheroes. But captivating, tough and tight stories. The only problem is that I don’t have a single idea for such a comic – at least not one worth putting into reality.

But the urge to draw action comics couldn’t be pushed down any longer, which is why I had to find a way to make one, and still keep it food-related. Enter Boudin Noir: even the name of the sausage sounds like a hard-boiled detective story from the fifties and it is made out of the most important ingredient in macho-action, i.e. blood. As for the rest of it, there isn’t really much to explain. Killer pigs are pigs, the basic source of pig blood. If you want to see them, and their conflict with the female lead character in a deeper context, as a part of some feminist manifestation (or chauvinist, after all, she turns out to be a sick bitch, who has an affair with a rich hog), then be my guest, but in the end of the day, the story is just as simple as it seems: pigs are chasing her, she kills a lot of them, goes to a fancy restaurant, reveals her true nature and has boudin noir for dinner.

Which, by the way, is something I have never had. Not once have I tasted boudin noir. It’s not that I have a big problem with eating blood (it’s not my favourite, either, but that could be blamed on the blood pancakes that we got in elementary school), but I just haven’t been exposed to boudin noir, nor have I sought after it very eagerly. I will fix this shortcoming a-sap.

In other news, as of tomorrow and until next Friday, I am participating in Socrates Teacher Exchange Programme, which means that my employer is sending me to hang out with the people of Universidad de Malaga in Spain. I expect to gain another 5 kilos from all the tapas, rioja and cerveza that I am about to consume there. Muy bien, muy bien by me, indeed. Hasta luego!

The Insanely Authentic Tiramisu

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:22:09

(Posted originally on February 3rd, 2007)

Maybe the joke in this one just isn’t that clear or good, for a number of people have been asking me, what this is about. It’s not an advertisement for Italy, it’s just a parody on one of the stereotypical fantasies people sometimes seem to have about the country, its food and its culture. Sure, there’s plenty of good food to be found in Italy, but they have McDonald’s over there, too. And you can drive around the valley of the river Po without ever meeting father Camillo, or mayor Peppone. What I mean to say is that all those romantic, distant places in books, films, commercials, food and travel shows just don’t exist as such. (Just in case you didn’t know…)

On the other hand, I’m not saying that it’s just the same, if you use bland, mass-marketed ingredients full of weird additives or first-rate organic stuff. It’s just that sometimes all this foodie raving about this and that rare and expensive food item is superficial bullshit. In the end of the day, a wagyu steak will taste pretty much like one made of local beef. I assume, never having tried Kobe beef, but it’s still beef, right?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I just feel that often a truly remarkable and memorable eating experience has more to do with the situation and the events leading up to the meal, than the meal itself. You know, like the same cheese sandwich will taste so much better if you have it on a sunny day at the beach, next to a girl in a bikini, than if you chew on it alone in your dirty, one-room flat. Or, to give another example, like when my friend Anssi and his family visited us last September: from the minute we got to our place from the airport to the point they went back home we either ran around the city in search of the right ingredients, or cooked them, or ate what we had cooked. The seven course dinner that we put together was, of course, nothing short of phenomenal, at least for us. I remember wondering at the time, whether some outsider, who would not have had anything to do with the preparing of the dinner, would have thought our mushroom raviolis were so fantastic. The fact that we had worked so hard on the food definitely gave it an extra flavour.

And then there’s the necessity of being hip, cool and up-to-date. A lot of people have heard of things that are the hottest cool right now, yet they have no idea, what the stuff is like. Therefore it’s often enough to create an illusion of… exclusivity, so that the upper middle-class can feel special. You know these people, the ones to whom it is very important to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag with LV stamped all over it, who will make a point of their wine being expensive (which is around 40 euros) and the vegetables being organic and bought from the finest delicacy store in town. These people won’t really care, what their dinner tastes like, as long as they are assured that not everybody can afford it. They have Italian design kitchens, where they slice pieces of o-toro with their Swiss high-carbon steel knives and smoke Cohibas while eating the fish. It is their all-consuming need to be original, unique and exclusive that makes them so overwhelmingly superficial, ordinary and mediocre, that they surely would not do well in a blind tasting with a Philadelphia tiramisu against one with Umberto’s mascarpone.

Oh, just realized that I’m ranting. You’ve probably gotten my point a long time ago. (And I’ve made myself seem like this angry and envious poor guy) So I will stop now and conclude by admitting that yes, I know that donkeys aren’t really that big. I just realized it while colouring the picture, but couldn’t be bothered to draw a smaller donkey or a larger man. Not that it matters, because the entire story is based on false images anyway.

Events of the End of the Week

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:13:36

(Posted originally on January 15th, 2007)

I just can’t seem to get any faster in drawing these comics. And this one was just a “remastered” version of an old comic! Well, enough about that. I can see that I haven’t written anything here in almost two months. It’s about time for some bloglog updates…

So, this one is a rather accurate description of what may or may not have happened (hope you’ll never read this, mom) during three days in August, 1997. The guy on the front page actually looks quite a lot like me. Although at the time I didn’t actually own a Stratocaster, I just couldn’t draw myself playing the guitar that I had, a cheap Charvel-copy by Westone, my first electric guitar.

A lot of you people might not know what macaroni mush is. It’s something my sister calls “mohno” in Finnish and I find it hard to translate. It’s macaroni, mixed with pan-fried ground beef and onion, plus a bag of frozen vegetables (peas, red pepper and corn; the standard mix in Finland). Mohno is served with kethcup. Simple, cheap and reasonably good, especially when you’re a poor student. I will get back to mohno / macaroni mush and its variants when I start drawing stories about student cuisine.

In order to protect the guilty parts, I will not give any further information about the first scene in the story. All I can tell you is that it wasn’t something I / we did frequently, which sort of made the whole pot-food-and-music evenings very special. Joanna told me to change at least Anssi’s name to something else, so that he – a man of irreproachable reputation – wouldn’t be associated with no-good drug abusers. I figured he wouldn’t mind.

Staying in bad habits, even if I didn’t smoke that much weed, I did go to the gun range quite often in 1995-1998. There was this gun dealer with an indoor range, where you could rent pretty much any kind of hand guns and shoot to your hearts content. We would always rent some large-caliber pistols and revolvers and blast away. The .44 magnum made the whole room tremble, which irritated the olympic pistol (.22 LR caliber = small) shooters to the point that we practiced in shifts. The gun range kept a record of their customers and if you went there often enough, you would be eligible to buy your own gun (the police wanted to see your record, of course). The place was closed after an incident in a similar shooting club in Helsinki, where a woman killed three others for no particular reason. I’ve heard that they are trying to open a shooting club again; it wasn’t illegal or anything after the incident, either, but their landlord, a large bank, terminated the lease contract in fear of new shootings, or something.

The event going on at the river bank is “The Night of the Arts”, which started out as a civilized one-night city festival with all kinds of cultural activities, but in a few years it turned into a boring street party with not very many people paying attention to anything else than beer in plastic cups. I guess they don’t arrange the night of the arts anymore in Turku: too little art, too much pissing in street corners.

In all honesty, the meatballs in the last chapter weren’t all that great. I remember them, because they were so large and therefore very hard to cook so that they wouldn’t be black on the outside and red inside. That evening taught me to roll smaller meat balls.

A number of people, none of whom are shown in the comic, are named in the sequence, where I’m trying to call for dinner company. At the time we were good friends with Joanna, but weren’t dating yet. We used to do things together, but she had a summer job in Helsinki, which was a bit of a drag. Then there was Hanna, on whom I once had a serious crush and we had a short relationship. We sort of remained friends for a while even after she dumped me in favour of her old boyfriend, whom she then soon left and found a new, serious (as in marriage-material) boyfriend. Maybe I have to draw a comic about her someday, because the whole thing felt a bit movie-like at the time. I really liked her, but I also knew that she wouldn’t hang out with me for too long. Which was exactly what happened. Tiina was my first real girlfriend. We were together for three years. As a matter of fact, we even got engaged, which now seems unbelieveably immature and stupid, but we were young, romantic and… immature and stupid. We broke up pretty quickly after we moved to the city of Turku to study. Lots of interesting, new people, and so on. It all went rather peacefully and so we kept contact even after she moved in with her new boyfriend – now her husband. And Danne, or Dan, was a friend of mine but we’ve lost contact. We were quite close, but then we weren’t in the same class anymore and both started to find new friends and then he did the classic stunt: find a girl and completely vanish off the face of the Earth. Why am I telling you all this? Don’t know, I just think it’s sort of part of the story. It’s a rather personal story, so some parts might need a bit more explanation (and isn’t that what this blog is for?).

The funny thing is that this is already the second (or actually, the first) comic with James Hetfield of Metallica singing in the last picture. Odd thing, considering that Metallica isn’t really my favourite band, maybe not even top three favourite, but very good anyway. Will the appearance of Mr. Hetfield in the end become a trademark of mine? THAT would be weird…

There’s something I’d like to tell you…

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:12:24

(Posted originally on November 17th, 2006)

So, now we are a little family. I just couldn’t let it go without some advertising. Funny, the day our boy was born, I didn’t feel too ecstatic, you know, like in films where the father runs out from the hospital, dealing cigars to everybody while screaming “IT’S A BOY!”. (for some reason, a lot of men seem to congratulate more sincerely if you get a boy) It all felt kind of overwhelmingly natural – apart from the child coming out by a c-section, but… Anyways, during these first four weeks of our acquaintance I have grown all the more excited about him and as clichéed as it may sound, I feel blessed.

And tired. He normally wakes up at 4 am and remains loud and angry up until six or seven. So sometimes, when people tell us to “enjoy this time when your baby is so cute and tiny” I want to bite their heads off. My wife even more so. She gets half of the sleep that I do, so she is going a bit mad at times.

Oh, yeah. He does have a name, too. For quite a long time I tried to sell the idea of naming him Jimmy Page, but she didn’t buy it. I found it very odd, that Robert Plant didn’t go any better. A lot of people in Denmark (and Finland, as well) are named Robert, so where’s the problem? But she did settle on Axel. Although she insisted on writing it with an “e”. (I knew she wouldn’t accept Slash anyway)

Did I already mention that I am tired? And I have apparently caught a cold. Which is probably why I forgot to go teach to my class today (very embarrassing, I can tell you). I’m sure I had some more thoughts on this baby-thing, but they’ve gone, so I’ll stop for now. Having children doesn’t apparently improve concentration.

The Lovely Woman at the Grocery Store

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:09:25

(Posted originally on November 2nd, 2006)

Later on I will draw and write an epilogue to this story, so I won’t tell you how it all worked out here and now. Like I said in “Digging the Archives”, I consider this comic my personal best so far, probably because it was very exciting to draw and give to the Lovely Woman. I can still remember, how my sister and a couple of colleagues were constantly asking for updates on whether she had contacted me and how she liked the comic.

But, nine years later, I have to say that the comic is not very well drawn. That’s what you get for leaving things to the last minute (my standard operating procedure). I still didn’t want to polish it up too much, just add some grey to make the characters stand out and to give it a little colour here and there.

Next one will be one called “Events of the end of the week”, which could be regarded as my first food comic, since there is pretty much cooking, eating and drinking going on. Yes, I am working on new comics, too, but it’s taking some time (of which – as stated quite a few times now – I am currently running a bit short).

Freddy Three Times

Comics Posted on Tue, June 14, 2011 22:06:54

(Posted originally on September 29th, 2006)

Yes, a month per comic is a bit slow, but still (almost) keeping up with the original goal of one page a week. The relatively slow pace is still due to the new job and the time and effort it requires on my part. More on the implications of that later.

Like I wrote in the notes for “Winter Chops”, I wanted to add some sexy spice to the character of Ingela and now I feel she is going to the right direction. With the general society’s current obsession of healthy diets I often feel like a sinner, when I decide to use cream in my cooking (for the third time in the week). And creamy food is sinfully good, so therefore I find it best to have a person with questionable morality and discipline to present creamy cooking.

It seems somehow more rewarding to create and develop suitable characters around certain kinds of food or styles of cooking, than just trying to connect every food experience I’ve had to my own person. Therefore, the readers of MAF can expect to see more fictional characters in the future.

Although there is a slight dilemma with one of the people I’ve already created: namely the Licorice Hunter. I’m a bit puzzled about whether it is appropriate and in good taste to make (even an ever so benevolent and light) parody of the recently deceased Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. You see, the Licorice Hunter is supposed to go to wilder and more dangerous licorice-related adventures and he’ll wind up in all kinds of hazardous situations. The fact that Mr. Irwin was killed by a sting-ray while “on duty” might give a bit eerie background to the licorice adventures. I really don’t know what to do about it. Perhaps I could turn him into a more generic jungle adventurer, but then the story would lose its contrast: a lot of people don’t care much about crocodiles, but there’s this guy who jumps out of his boat into black water to catch one and show how nice and fun they are, versus a lot of people find (salt) licorice unappealing and/or obscure but here we have a man with a mission to prove their prejudices wrong, all the while maintaining that licorice is “harder to handle” than, say, M&Ms. The way things went for the real Crocodile Hunter, one’s expectations for the Licorice Hunter might be less positive. Meaning, the joke might not be funny anymore (if it ever was, but prior to the very regrettable death of Mr. Irwin, that was just a matter of script development). Maybe I just have to wait ten years before proceeding with the licorice stories…?

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