Meet Børge Lund of Lunch


Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

Inspired by his own experiences in the workplace, Børge Lund created the comic strip Lunch in 2007. This popular strip features the unmotivated and sometimes foolish Kjell and his interactions with his coworkers. Lund has found that Kjell’s experiences resonate with readers worldwide, and Lunch is now published in over 90 publications.

In this interview with NAW, Lund discusses his experience incorporating his own reality into a comic strip and having his work published around the world.

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

Børge Lund: The theme is life in the office. It’s a strip about people trying to work together, despite obvious differences in personality, ambitions, and skills.

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

BL: I chose a theme that I knew well, after having worked more than 12 years in an office environment for four different companies. My motivation was simply to try to see if I could pull it off. I had always dreamed about drawing comics, but I didn’t do anything about it before I noticed there was a strip competition for a newspaper.

Illustration by Børge Lund Self portrait.

Illustration by Børge Lund
Self portrait.

MJ: I read that you worked as an industrial designer prior to creating Lunch. Is it modeled on that experience?

BL: Absolutely. Real experience and a link to reality are key elements of the strip. I don’t break any physical laws. It almost could have happened in the real world. I think most of the characters could be found out there. I know a few of them myself…

MJ: How do the people in your life feel about that? For example, are there people who know they inspired a character?

BL: Sure! A friend I used to work with has been a big inspiration for the character called Nico. He knows it, and as far as I know he is proud of it as well. Actually he is proofreading all my strips. Never heard him complain.

Illustration by Børge Lund The primary casts of characters for Lunch.

Illustration by Børge Lund
The primary casts of characters for Lunch.

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

BL: I create the stories according to my own experience. Some of it may be closely linked to typical Norwegian topics, but I think a lot of situations could happen anywhere. Maybe the typical Norwegian non-hierarchical business structure may seem a bit strange to foreign readers.

MJ: What is it like to see your work translated? Do you think it’s weird that, for example, Kjell becomes Dave for an English-speaking audience? [Note that NAW has kept the name Kjell, as most of our readers are familiar with Norwegian names.]

BL: It’s fascinating. It’s like exploring the strips a second time. I hope Dave sounds the way Kjell does in my ears.

MJ: Have your comics been translated to languages other than English? If so, what are the character names in other languages?

BL: Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, among others. In the Nordic countries he is also called Kjell (actually Kjeld in Denmark).

MJ: Do you feel like the comic’s message is preserved in translation?

BL: It seems that most of the message is preserved. My writing is straightforward and shouldn’t be too hard to translate, I think. Obviously some of the content may be altered (maybe sometimes for the better?), but in general the link between text and drawing is strong, so I’m not afraid that the humor is lost in translation.

MJ: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

BL: I’m very proud to be presented to an American audience this way, and it actually must be the perfect way of doing it, with a smooth introduction to readers with a special connection to Norway—and Kjell.

This article originally appeared in the July 24, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.