Norwegian Comics: Pondus

It’s that time of the month again. Time for me to pack the sleeping bag, gas cooker, thermos and MP3-player, and camp outside the local newsagent. Waiting for days in eager anticipation. This is not like camping out for U2-tickets. This is big. What am I waiting for? The next edition of Pondus magazine, of course!

OK… I don’t really go to such lengths, but I would if needed.

Pondus is by far the most popular Norwegian comic strip to have emerged in the last decade. The strip, named after the main character, was the brainchild of cartoonist Frode Øverli and set a new standard for Norwegian comics. The style is fresh, the characters are well-developed and the jokes hit you where it hurts (meaning, your sides will split after reading a few strips…)

Pondus is the reflection of the average Norwegian male. He is a lovable family man with slight homophobic tendencies and a supernatural knowledge of English football. His motto is: “A sport without a ball is for questionable people!” Although the comic is highly football-themed, the sport gets ridiculed as much as it gets praised. So it also appeals to non-football fans (such as myself). I became a fan from the first strip, so much so that I have religiously bought every issue since.
The lead character is not afraid to speak his mind. Hip-hoppers, old ladies, computer geeks, goth-rockers, metrosexuals, law students, country music, men with hats, in-laws, Manchester United-supporters… nobody is safe from being the butt end of a joke. L-Jay says that this is not at all what Norwegians are like, but I think one reason for the comic’s popularity is that Pondus says what most Norwegian guys think. Like when an old lady unintentionally makes Pondus’ baby cry, and he simply responds “maybe it’s because of your ugly face”. It’s beautiful in its political incorrectness.

Pondus first appeared in newspapers in 1996 and graduated to its own monthly magazine in 2000. The strip has been translated into several languages, including Latin and Esperanto (forcing me to ask: why!?). I have come across a few strips in English, but I have yet to see an “official” English publication. I guess a lot of the jokes may simply be too crass for the English-speaking audience and would lose their spark when censored.