Welcome, Pondus

Last year you met the creators of Lunch and Hjalmar, and now we’re proud to introduce Frode Øverli, the man behind Norway’s most popular comic strip

fra_Frode,_Pondus_&_JokkeWhat does it take to create one of Scandinavia’s most popular comic strips? A good mix of everyday humor, rock and roll, and English soccer, according to Frode Øverli.

After a decade of working as a cartoonist for the Pyton comic magazine, Øverli decided to create his own cartoon exploring some of his favorite themes through the lens of a fanatic soccer fan named Pondus. Over the last 30 years, the comic has grown to become the first Norwegian comic to boast its own monthly magaine, has been translated into many languages, and has appeared in a variety of international publications—including the Norwegian American, starting with this issue.

Here Øverli shares with us what inspired him to create Pondus and what it’s like to present it to readers around the world.

Molly Jones: How would you describe the theme of Pondus?

Frode Øverli: Man kan vel si at det er flere temaer. Men hvis jeg skal oppsummere i én setning, vil jeg si at det er en familieserie med skråblikk på fotball og rock’n’roll.

You could say there are several themes. But if I were to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say it’s a family comic with a satirical look at soccer and rock’n’roll.

MJ: Pondus has become one of Scandinavia’s all-time most successful comic strips. What do you think it is about Pondus that has made it such a success?

FØ: Jeg tror det er en serie som folk kan kjenne seg litt igjen i. Det er kjente situasjoner med en liten humoristisk vri som gjør det morsomt, forhåpentligvis.

I think it’s a comic that people can relate to. It has a lot of familiar situations with a small humoristic twist, which makes it funny, I hope.

MJ: Why did you choose to develop this comic strip?

FØ: Før dette [Pondus] jobbet jeg ti år i Pyton, en sprø [norsk] MAD variant. Jeg var lei av den veldig pubertale humoren (som var tonen i Pyton) og ville tone det litt ned. Det var godt å kunne gjøre noe som jeg kunne stå for sjøl.

Jeg hadde lyst til å lage en serie der jeg tok opp mine egne interesser, og det er jo fotball, familieliv og rock’n’roll. Skrive om noe jeg visste noe om, som er disse tingene. Og ikke kvantefysikk.

Before this [Pondus] I worked ten years for Pyton, a crazy [Norwegian] comic magazine inspired by MAD Magazine. I was tired of the extremely puerile humor (the tone of Pyton) and wanted to tone it down a bit. It was good to do something I myself could stand.

I wanted to make a comic where I focused on my own interests, which are soccer, family life, and rock’n’roll. Write about something which I knew something about, which are these things. And not quantum physics).

MJ: Is it modeled on your life?

FØ: Ikke hundre prosent, men det er jo elementer av meg sjøl i flere av figurene, kanskje aller mest hovedpersonen Pondus.

Not a hundred percent, but there are elements of myself in several of the characters, and maybe most in Pondus.

Kampanjehefte

MJ: Are there people who know they inspired a character?

FØ: Nei, det tror jeg ikke. Det er ikke noe “spitting image” av min nærmeste bekjent­skapskrets. Men det er selvfølgelig noe de kan kjenne seg igjen i, selv om de ikke er direkte portrettert.

Som Beate. Kona mi har sikkert noen situasjoner hun kan kjenne seg igjen i der. Og så har vi kanskje alle en kompis som kunne vært Jokke.

No, I don’t think so. This is no spitting image of my circle of acquaintances. But it is of course something they can relate to, even if they are not portrayed.

Like Beate. I suppose there are some situations with her that my wife can relate to. And I guess we all have a friend who could have been Jokke.

MJ: Do you create your comics with a Norwegian audience in mind, or do you feel that they are relevant for a global audience as well?

FØ: Den er ikke særnorsk i den forstand, det er en serie som kan leses over store deler av verden og forstås. Det er ganske universielle ting det dreier seg om. Men det gjør selvfølgelig ingenting å ha en forkjærlighet for engelsk fotball… Siden hovedpersonen jo er veldig opptatt av engelsk fotball og spesielt Liverpool som han har fulgt siden han var liten. Og så er det jo også denne konflikten mellom lagene, mellom Liverpool og Leeds United og Manchester United. Her er det mye å spille på, og det kommer også fram i serien.

It isn’t distinctively Norwegian in that sense; it’s a comic that can be read in many parts of the world and be understood. It’s about pretty universal things. But of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a love for British soccer… The main character is very into English soccer and especially Liverpool FC, which he has been following since he was a kid. And you also have this conflict between the teams, between Liverpool and Leeds United and Manchester United. There is a lot to play around with here, which comes through in the comic.

MJ: What is it like to see your work translated?

FØ: Det er mest nærliggende å se på de svenske utgavene. Og de danske. De er ganske like. Men det er sprøtt å se det oversatt til språk du ikke en gang forstår. Pondus har blitt oversatt til fransk, det forstår jeg litt av. Men når tingene dine blir oversatt til samisk og latin, da begynner det virkelig å bli gresk.

It’s most natural to look at the Swedish versions. And the Danish. They are pretty similar. But it’s weird to see it translated into languages you don’t even understand. Pondus has been translated into French, which I can understand bits of. But when one’s stuff is translated into Sámi and Latin, then it all becomes Greek to me.

MJ: Do you feel the comic’s message is preserved, or does translation alter the content?

FØ: Man forandrer det ofte så det skal stemme overens med landet hvor det skal leses, som for eksempel navn og steder. Men jeg føler at det jeg har lest stemmer overens og henger på greip. Men med de språkene jeg ikke forstår, har jeg selvfølgelig ingen sjanse til å kontrollere det. Da er det bare å krysse fingrene og håpe på at de har gjort en grei jobb.

They often change it so that for instance names and places are adapted to the countries where it’s supposed to be read. But I feel that what I’ve read matches and makes sense. But with regards to the languages I can’t understand, I of course don’t have any chance to control it. Then you just have to cross your fingers and hope they’ve done a good job.

MJ: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of The Norwegian American?

FØ: Vil bare dele at det er utrolig gøy å være på trykk så langt hjemmefra og håper at de vil kose seg med Pondus i Statene også.

I just want to share that it’s very fun to be on print so far away from home and hope that you will enjoy Pondus in the States as well.

This article originally appeared in the May 20, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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