Johanna and Helena
Johanna and Helena are two sisters who are at the center of a series of Swedish graphic novels by Patrick Rochling and Li Österberg. Most of the chapters are about them or at least one of them, but the third album focuses on Johanna's former girlfriend Klara as she's becoming a priest. Other important characters include Anna (Klara's new girlfriend), Johanna's and Helena's Mother, and their father who was never really a part of their lives but becomes a main character after his death.
The father's role is very creepy: He never contacted his children, but after his death it turns out that he stalked them throughout their childhood, youth and early adulthood until his death. He took lots and lots of photos of them, and these photos becomes the narrative portal through which the story starts jumping back and forth in time.
The five albums released thus far are:
- Johanna, 2003
- Hjärtat Brinner, 2005 (Heart burning)
- Skaparens folk, 2006 (The Creator's People)
- Pusselbitar, 2008 (Puzzle Pieces)
- Vänd Dig Om. 2010 (Turn Around)
(The title translations are far from perfect, and the titles are not fully translatable since they rely heavily on subtext.)
The stories rely heavily on psychological drama: The interesting part is not the lives the characters live, but how they relate to it - or rather how they fail to relate to it. Over the course of the albums, the stories have grown increasingly dark - revolving about how people who have grown up together can still be strangers to each other and even to themselves.
- Artist Disillusionment Farewell: Helena becomes a sucessfull stand up comedian, but really hates it. The worst part is that her inane babble is considered deep and true art and all that kind of bullshit. The emperor is indeed naked, but in this case the empreror and the child are the same person. (Actually, the authors don't portray her shows as bad. The thought that they are "inane babble" is her own opinion.) Eventually she publically denounces it all, pretty much claiming that the word must be a Crapsack World after all since people obviously actually like a show such as hers.
- Coming Out Story: Johanna to her family. Averted with Klara, who remains closeted to her relatives, and crash-landed with Anna - who loses her family when they discover her with Klara.
- Flash Back: Lots of them, especially in the later albums
- Heteronormative Crusader: Klara and Anna seem to be quite scared of their parents taking this route if they ever find out. When Anna's parents do find out, it's downplayed. Sure, Anna doesn't have a family any more. And her parents took back the gift they had already given Klara. But they were really polite about it, no screaming and shouting. And they made clear that they wouldn't tell anyone.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: The mother is an immigrant, and while her relationship with the father was good she still gets a lot of crap from prejudiced swedes who dislike her.
- Parental Abandonment: The father has been absent all their lives.
- Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Anna is stuck with her well-meaning but very religious parents who she assume will never accept her if they find out she's a lesbian. The parents eventually find out and politely disown her and her girlfriend. There is no malice in their rejection, and no sarcasm in their politeness. Only an overwhelming sadness.
- They probably honestly believe that their daughter will burn in hell for not being mainstream. And thus they are, in a way, in hell themselves...