Leo Kuikka from Lappeenranta is a grave digger by profession.
“Ten years ago I went to the cemetery and stayed there ”, Leo Kuikka says.
Sounds gloomy but not. Although there were gloomy times at the time, because depression bothered me, but a new job at Lappeenranta Cemetery contributed to the relief.
“There have been a few montages here to dig, but the work of the grave digger is by no means grim. We have a good work team, ”he says.
“At work, I have noticed that people are dying at all ages and from all kinds of reasons. I’m glad that I’m alive. “
At the same time as the new work, Kuika’s debut comic book was published Low frequencies (2011). He had started a few years earlier by publishing self-published.
Kuikka had come across, among other things Marko Turusen and Tommi Musturin to the comics that inspired.
Style was already ready for the firstborn. Kuikka draws extremely simplistic cartoons that pinch the pain points of a Finnish man with brutally black humor. Alcohol is drunk too much, women leave or betray, and so do men, if they can, their fists fluctuate easily.
Kuikka estimated that making comics was even more beneficial to himself than new work.
In that sense, his relationship to comics is reminiscent of an American underground champion Robert Crumbiawho dispelled anxiety issues on paper for decades.
“There are ingredients in my background from my own life, but my male characters are not self-portraits like Crumb. And they don’t represent my own thinking. I bit the bad feeling on the level of imagination but not opinions. I exacerbated things revolving in my mind. The cartoon provided a good route for that. ”
Usually, one-page stuff also brings to mind a Swede Roy Andersson depictions of films, carefully thought-out slices of gloomy whimsical life. On the other hand, the reference backgrounds of Kuika’s images are reminiscent of theater Scenery.
Only literature competes with the flexibility and affordability of comics in deconstructing and dealing with personal matters. They only need pens and paper, not expensive tools or workgroups.
Loon was no longer quite young when he released his first comics. Yet Pasi P. in his book, he used photographs as a basis. A whimsical world magazine (2010) still featured a Swedish who is one of Kuika’s favoritesJoakim Pirisen effect.
But a reduced style was quickly found. Low frequencies already represented it, and some of its comics were made in 2008.
“I have always drawn and painted with watercolors. I was thinking about making cartoons when I was young but I only started as an adult. Quickly came the desire to strive for a simple and economical style, and pretty soon it fell into place. All too much out – it worked. ”
The light and jagged line looks improvised, but the stories are everything else. Kuikka writes scripts for them, writes a lot, even if the masses of text do not aggravate the end result.
“While I like to write, making cartoons is largely a pruning of text. I’m happy if I can get an idea concentrated in one picture. “
Also drawing is Kuika’s inherent means of communication. He even draws the phone on the screen and praises the stylus that came with his Samsung as more convenient than the ones available separately for it.
The phone creates single image stuff for Instagram and Facebook. Often Kuikka draws a picture for a Facebook conversation instead of a text reply.
“It doesn’t take much longer than it does to write. I write down ideas on notes and pick them up, but often they come to mind when I pick up the phone. It’s the funniest. ”
For now Kuikka’s main job is Deadly hands (2018), a surreal and labyrinthine story about Pasi Lihavisto’s alley run in his connections under the pressures of a nascent family and society.
Deadly hands was born in collaboration Matti Hagelbergin with and as a side branch of this gigantic Fatmealseries. It appeared in four pages before being published as a 140-page book.
The everyday world of Kuika’s comics is mixed Intravenous layers of reality.
“Pas’s everyday life became pretty much out of my life, even though he’s not really my self-portrait either. Hagelberg baited the suggestions Intravenous of the world, and I wrote on the basis of them. After all, it became the kind of labyrinth in which Pasi gets lost. It is sometimes difficult for me to say at what level of reality the story moves. ”
Kuikka says Deadly hands to a cartoon school and a great experience. But since then, he hasn’t published any new magazines or books. A happy man in Lappeenranta sounds talking on the phone.
“I’m really better now than I was ten years ago, and it might still show up in comics, but I haven’t even just drawn for a year. Time has passed while fishing and making lures. If I get ice fishing on my birthday, it will go well. ”
■ Born in 1971 in Joensuu, lives in Lappeenranta.
■ Former restaurant chef, since 2011 working as a grave digger.
■ Began publishing self-published comics in 2007. The most important of them: Muta 1–4 (2013), Galigula 1–4 (2014), Unhealthy Atmosphere (2016).
■ Books: Low Frequencies (2011), Deadly Hands (2018).
■ Latest comic: Life according to Leo Kuika (Finnish of the Month for Ilta-Sanomat, April 2020).
■ Turns 50 on Thursday, March 18th.
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