10 May 2016



Sami Nyyssölä’s social commentary

I have to say, I truly admire a man who can casually talk about refugees and male genitalia in the same sentence, yet manage to sound absolutely politically correct.

The majority of Sami Nyyssölä’s work starts as a funny story to share with friends – a draw-it-yourself Facebook meme, if you wish. It is shared democratically on the internet; Sami is not a fan of enclosed exhibition spaces. Take Dickgull, for instance. It started as a joke between Sami and his friend (interestingly enough, Sami’s friend always envisioned Dickgull’s, erm, dick where his beak should be) and ended up being published by PSY Media and was also featured in Université de Sherbrooke’s STI prevention campaign.

It is, of course, social commentary. Dickgull is a stuffed bird, but because it has a phallus on its back, the reader tends to attach common male attributes to it. Such is also the case with the bird man in Manly Advent Calendar. Both in the case of the comic book characters and actual men, the attributes, Sami points out, are not innate. Society dictates how one needs to behave if in possession of a penis.

Sami’s recent work tells the personal stories of refugees who have arrived in Finland and are staying in reception centres. Social commentary ties in this comic with Sami’s previous works. In the previous comics the joke was in creating an absurd situation. The situation in the reception centres, on the other hand, is so absurd that it is beyond funny.

Currently Sami is writing Pakotarinat (Escape Stories) together with his friend Anssi Vieruaho. The comic aims to raise awareness of the fact that refugees are not a homogenous group. They are individuals with unique stories and varying hopes for the future. The comic will be discussed in a panel at the Helsinki Comics Festival in September 2016.

Text by Tessa Aarniosuo.

Images courtesy of the artist.