When we started Tusen Serier, it was with a consciousness of how segregated Swedish society is, and how it is also reflected in the Swedish comics culture. People socialize in their circles and those circles are often ethnically homogeneous, at least among the majority population.
It’s in such a context that movements and political parties can emerge that are based on fear of cultures and people that don’t look like what you’re used to. Movements talking about closed borders and harsher measures and evil foreign cultures. There is no interest in trying to understand someone else’s situation or to solve common problems together. Instead, those who are portrayed as “the others” are blamed for everything and aggression becomes the only solution. Immigration is seen as the cause for everything bad, from crime to unemployment to the general feeling that everything gets worse all the time. Even if race and skin color are reinterpreted as culture and religion when talked about openly, everyone knows what it means. In the new nationalism, Sweden is the best and everything coming from outside is a threat. There is an implicit understanding that makes it unnecessary to explain WHY Sweden would be better, or exactly HOW someone born outside Europe automatically becomes a threat.
In that situation, it becomes be an act of resistance to publish and distribute comics by creators with a background in other countries, comics that talk about migration in a different way or just comics that have a slightly different perspective than what we’re used to from the regular publishers. But it’s not only an act of resistance, it’s also an attempt to move us forward, to create understanding, insights and empathy, for a better future than the one we seem to be heading towards today.
Comics as a medium have the potential to bridge boundaries and increase understanding, but who gets published is very much a question about knowing the right people, so Tusen Serier was needed to do its part to get past such obstacles. A non-profit association that doesn’t have to take into account what is already seen as commercially viable and therefore can look beyond what’s established and publish something new.
These are the books we released during our first decade, by comics creators with origins in Chile, Iran, Colombia, Turkey, Slovenia, Irak, Bosnia, Egypt, Spain, China Lickan and Sweden.