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Anders Loves Maria

May 19, 2009

I thought about doing a post yesterday but I had so much homework that I decided to hold off until today. This schedule of missed days shouldn’t go on for too much longer. My term is up in a little more than three weeks. 

After doing the strip in a new style last week, I decided to go back to my old one. The one I tried doesn’t really fit for comics. It’s okay for movies and video games but comics feel like a different beast. I still want to mix things up so we’ll see if I find something else that fits me and the comics. 

For now, today’s post is about Anders Loves Maria

Background: This comic has been online since about 2006 and is by Rene Engstrom. I’ll let him tell you what the comic is about. Then I’ll tell you what I think it’s about.

“Anders Loves Maria is not a story for the casual reader. It has a simple beginning-middle-end structure but it does jump between the past and present quite frequently so a little effort on the readers part is needed to understand what is going on.

Even though the story is essentially about the relationship of Anders and Maria, most of it takes place outside of the context of this relationship.

It is a story about “adulthood” in a modern age where coming-of-age seems to be completely arbitrary.”

Okay, so that’s that. 

The Comic: Before I get into the story, I’ll talk about the art style and some of the imagery. 

It is very European. I’ve seen many cartoons and comics from Europe, especially Scandinavia where this comic is based out of, that feature very similar art to this comic. The details are very good, concrete and fleshed out but the people tend to come off as fluid, very skinny, and with buggy eyes. It’s a little weird for American eyes but it doesn’t take long to get used to it. 

Engstrom features a lot of strips with sex (especially a series with a minor having sex, actually I think that there are a couple of those). Having seen some Danish and Swedish films, the nude body and sexual relations is something that is common in their entertainment media. The minors thing is something that I don’t understand but that’s probably more of a culture gap than anything else. 

The style of the comic is very consistent but the presentation is all over the place. Sometimes it’s in full color ala Photoshop, other times paintings, sometimes pencil, sometimes pen. The presentation is interesting but don’t expect consistency or else you’ll lose yourself. 

Now for the story. 

I tried to finish the archives, honest to God, I did. There are only 234 comics in the archives and I got to 220 before I had to completely stop myself. 

The little description that Engstrom gives in his About page is not enough to really understand this story.

Basically, it follows Maria and Anders—who are dating and pregnant—and their journey through fucking everything up. Generally, it’s more Anders fucking things up but I kind of blame Maria for getting the ball rolling. 

In my mind the story seems very Swedish. It’s depressing, drawn out, and slightly in love with drama for the sake of drama. 

One of the reasons that I couldn’t bring myself to finish the story is because there are no characters worth attaching oneself to. They are all sadsack fools who keep fucking up. Even their “nice” moments feel like manipulation into another drama. It’s over the top. 

Perhaps its a reflection of life and how no one is really all that redeeming but I don’t believe that for a moment. 

The two main characters Anders and Maria are A)depressing and B)in their own way most of the time just perpetuating a cycle. Fine, that’s understandable and usually it promotes the story. The problem is that every single one of the other characters are depressing and in their own way. 

And all of them use sex has some crazy coping mechanism that continually seems to get them in trouble. Obviously it’s not working. 

My Recommendation: The art is interesting and very European, that’s worth a look for curiosity’s sake. The story is just bleh. The characters are unlikable or even worth following in their ridiculous exploits. It’s almost like watching a bad WB teen drama like the OC or Summerland or some bullshit like that. 

My verdict is to stay away from this one. 


One Comment leave one →
  1. November 29, 2009 10:06 am

    I disagree. I understand your point about the artwork being all over the place- some painted some photoshop but I think that is what gives Anders loves Maria its charm! I read the archive in a very long afternoon and have followed ever since, I feel its not just a comic or a story line but its part of Engström’s life work. I enjoy the way she paints a comic when a computer is unavalible and enjoy the way even when the art mediums change the style remains the same.

    My critique of it would be that flashbacks are a plenty to the point of overkill, perhaps stretching out the comic too long. However as a story I see how they help expand the reasons behind the secondary characters who help make the story personal.

    There is a lot going on! I see why you might not like it but I shall still remain a fan.

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