A history of Norwegian Comics organisations.
The desire for a national comics centre hails back to he 1960s.
1968 the organisation Donaldistene was founded by school children wanting to promote comics collecting. A few years later the organisation sent an inquiry to the weekly magazine Hjemmet for an overview of their publications; nobody had ever asked for this before, and the publisher realised that they did not have a complete archive. A letter was also sent to the Norwegian Broadcasting Service (NRK) demanding more Donald Duck on TV.
1970 Tegneserieakademiet (the Comics Academy) was founded by Jo Lie a.o. to function as a national council. Knowledgable scholars could be included by an internal vote. The Academy assisted NRK with several programmes, wrote newspaper chronicles, and created a substantial exhibition at the Henie Onstad art centre at Høvikodden in 1971-72.
1973 author Jon Gisle’s Donaldismen was published in Gyldendal’s Fakkel series of books. A tongue-in-cheek parody of simple fact books. The humour had consequences: The organisation Fellowship of Old Donaldism (Gammeldonaldismens Venner, GDV) started publishing the fanzine Donaldisten the same year, under the unending leadership of secretary general Pål Jensen.
1975 the Academy began publishing the journal Bobbla. The first volume listed at least 250 Norwegian comics that required further dissemination.
1976 the Bodø Comics Forum (Bodø Tegneserieforum, BTF) was founded. The forum emphasised collecting and information gathering about all Norwegian comics publications. The same year GDV published the first collector’s index, Hvordan samle på Donald Duck & Co.
1980 the Norwegian Comics Forum (Norsk Tegneserieforum, NTF) was founded as a national association to include everybody with the desire to be involved in comics; readers, publishers, authors, artists, collectors and the generally interested. Once again the educator Jo Lie was behind the initiative, and emphasised the collection and preservation of material about the artists. NTF took over the responsibility for Bobbla. The organisation’s other activities included comics competitions, exhibitions (among those another large exhibition at Høvikodden and several smaller ones in libraries and schools), and information about the medium.
1983 marked the publication of the first Norwegian Comics Index (Norsk Tegneserie Index, NTI) helmed by the BTF. A complete recording of all individual publications in Norway, dating back from 1912. NTI was updated irregularly until 2001. It was the beginning of several different collector’s indexes from many publishers; The Phantom, Agent X9 and many more. Their common trait was that they only covered individual publications, meaning that publications in weekly periodicals and daily newspapers remained unexplored.
1985 NTF had local branches in Bodø, Oslo, Sarpsborg, Trondheim and Voss, with the addition of a Kristiansund branch the following year. The number of local branches has varied as old ones have closed and new ones have emerged.
1986 NTF assumed the responsibility for presenting the annual SPROING Awards for best Norwegian and translated comics. All publishers began submitting their year’s publications for consideration. The same year marks the first publication of the comics journal TEGN. TEGN was published with a total of 52 volumes, and was the flagship of Norwegian comics literature.
1987 NTF joined the initiative to establish an Associations’ House in Oslo, with available conference rooms, archives, library and association offices. Shared premises were rented at Dronningensgt. 24 in the center of Oslo.
1990 the collaborating associations, including NTF, moved to larger offices in Westye Egebergsgt. 8c, where all shared 80 square meters.
1991 the National Comics Archive was established in a collaboration between a consultant at the National Library Service and professional librarian Hanne Chr. Dunker. The purpose of the archive was to function as a national resource center. Review copies from publishers and donations from both artists and collectors formed the basis of the collection.
1992 Maihaugen Museums, Lillehammer, presented the idea of a separate Comics Museum. Simultaneously, Morten Myklebust and Tor Ødemark presented their ideas about national Comics Centres to Tove Bakke with the Council of Culture. Three years of project support was granted to Norwegian Comics Collection Maihaugen, and Mona Holm was employed to begin work on permanent and touring exhibitions. NTF warmly supported the initiatives and participated in committees and advisory boards.
1995 TEGN published a volume focusing on Norwegian Comics History in conjunction with the Lillehammer exhibition.
1996 the collaborating associations, including NTF, moved to larger offices in Langes gate 7, increasing the area to 120 square meters. The Oslo Comics Gallery, where NTF wished to display original comics art from Norway and abroad, was opened with a tightly packed exhibition program. In Bergen the first Norwegian comics festival was held: Raptus. Since then the Raptus festival has annually gathered numerous Norwegian and foreign comics creators, publishers, retailer, readers and collectors to take part in lectures, workshops, film presentations, courses, action and shows. All organised by volunteers. Later that year Maihaugen effectively terminated their Comics Collection activities and fired Holm. Myklebust and Ødemark’s plans had also been shelved.
1997 NTF opened the Comics Museum of Norway to the public. This was partially intended as a joke to gather enough press coverage to rekindle past ideas of a national center. There was a lot of disappointment that Maihaugen had abandoned their project. The NTF "Museum" area was only 20 square meters, but public and press response to the initiative was unexpectedly positive.
1998 spurious signals of a 400,000 NOK establishment support from Oslo municipality, and a genuine support of 100,000 NOK from the Council of Culture, led NTF to invest half a million in refurbishing larger premises in the centre of Oslo.
1999 NTF moved into 300 square meters in Langes gate 9, The Comics House. The property offered large exhibition spaces, a gallery, conference rooms, an artists’ studio, archives, library, offices for the comics associations, and a museum shop. Drawing nights on Wednesdays and opening hours to the public on Sundays.
2000 the demolition of the National Hospital caused the foundations under the Comics House to fail. As the landlord was uninsured, damages to the roof, floors and walls were not compensated. The premises had become unuseable. A lease at minimum rent until 2008 helped somewhat. NTF realised that the organisation’s finances would not cover the expense of premises in Oslo for the collections that had been built up, they had become too extensive with a steady stream of donations. Inquiries sent to all Norwegian municipalities resulted in several positive responses, but only one in the proximity of Oslo. Here was an abandoned newspaper house with large spaces for the exhibitions. 75 kilometers from Oslo seemed within the vicinity. The local museum welcomed NTF with open arms, as did the local shopkeepers’ association and neighbours. NTF now had 500 square meters at their disposal at Hadelandsgården. All comics organisations relocated from Oslo to Brandbu with the museum. The same year Oslo municipality’s public library, the Deichmanske, opened a separate comics library, Serieteket, in the second floor of their Grünerløkka branch. Originally equipped with reading lounges and conference rooms, Serieteket has since then been expanded to include a café and gallery. Drawing courses and film presentations are held here. Since 2007, Serieteket has also been the venue for OCX, the alternative comics festival for adults.
2001 the NTF general assembly decided that a museum, archive and gallery had become too extensive and costly for a small organisation, and the responsibility for their operations were transferred to the Comics Museum in Norway foundation (stiftelsen Tegneseriemuseet i Norge, TiN). NTF retained ownership of the collections.
2001-2003 the collections expanded steadily with new publications from publishers as well as donations and loans from creators and their estate. As before, all work was on a volunteer basis.
2002 TEGN ceased publication due to poor finances.
2004-2008 the board of the TiN foundation under Tor Arne Hegna worked to have the Comics Museum included in public grants as part of an existing museum. A project financed by the Norwegian Council of Culture, the Freedom of Expression foundation, Gran and Lunner municipalities, the Savings Bank (Sparebanken) in Gran and Lunner, charted the collections and recommended possible solutions.
2008 Follo Museum consolidated the Comics Museum into a separate department, ensuring its employees and operations. Having become a department, it was time to research the old comics creators and make an exhibition covering the 1900-1939 period. That task revealed a shocking lack of information on the old comics creators. A permanent exhibit featuring original art by an initial 100 artists has been created and mounted.
2009 the Comics Museum in Norway foundation was dissolved and the ownership of the collections were transferred to the Comics Council organisation (Tegneserierådet), a conglomerate of 14 comics associations, publishers and foundations.
2011 the Comics Museum was disengaged from the consolidated Follo Museum-Akershus Museum.The same year NTF removed local branches from its statutes. For several years there had only been one left.
2012 the associations, with the exception of the Fellowship of the Comics Museum, relocated to Oslo where small facilities at Grønnegate 2 became a combined office, conference room, archive, library and gallery. The gallery is part of the Comics Museum. An agreement in May secured support from the Follo Museum foundation for the rest of the year. The Fellowship of the Comics Museum assumed responsibility for operations for the rest of the year.
2013 the association Norwegian Comics Centre assumed responsibility for operating the Comics Museum in Norway in both Brandbu and Oslo.
2016 ended the life of the Comics Council organisation (Tegneserierådet) and the association Norwegian Comics Centre. The responibility for operating the Comics Museum in Norway was handed over to the Fellowship of the Comics Museum.
2018 the NTF general assembly decided to take back the responsibility for the museum. The Fellowship of the Comics Museum carries out the daily work.