Author and artist Anders Nilsen observes the interior human landscape and focuses on our common desires, anxieties, joys, and pains to create a visual framework for better understanding the constant drift of life. This is self-reflection and self-exploration in comic form. At times, this framework can be literal.
Nilsen’s story Event from his upcoming book, In Your Next Life You Will be Together With All Of Your Friends, features a series of statements, each represented by shape, and panel by panel the symbology of the statements build into a grid, a graph of human error, each isolated for interpretation. Event is a wonderful summation of Nilsen’s work — simple yet complex human emotions pinned down for closer observation and a clean dissection.
In Your Next Life… is a collection of previously published comics and illustrations, with sketchbook pages and a variety of book design wizardry that needs to be experienced, book in hand. Nilsen does not deviate from the mainstream comic book format as much as he collects the data of it as a structure, then turns his attention to novels, poetry, data records, and film to do the same. The book flows from story to story, each drawn differently than the last, yet from page to page the voice does not change. It is always Nilsen there, posing the questions and searching for answers.
Nilsen has a unique ability to politely place the viewer as the voice in his stories, something you do not feel until you’ve turned the final page. It’s a sublime shift of the personal to the everyman yet his writing is volcanic. In his four-panel comic, Why Does Graphic Storytelling Matter? you see a clear starting point, yet the question raised creates a slow flow of thoughts that move in all directions.
The section Grand Canyon Sketchbook is a narrative built from Nilsen’s documentation. The sketchbook selection follows Nilsen and friends on a weekend trip to the national park. The drawings are loose but the imagery is intact, the language is simple. Nilsen shares his observations and by the final panel, the audience has a fully-formed memory of a trip as if they were at his side.
Nilsen creates books that you will happily revisit, a new branch of Nilsen’s curiosity can be found in a quick aside or a comic initially read in a rush. In Your Next Life… acts as Nilsen’s comic manifesto. Once you’ve read and re-read, you will find a singular vision by an incredible artist.
Anders Nilsen’s In Your Next Life You Will Be Together With All of Your Friends is available in his SHOP.