Arne Anka (Arne Duck) is a Swedish comic series by Charlie Christensen, who started drawing and writing the series under the pseudonym Alexander Barks in 1983.
The series follows the titular character, a bitter and cynical anthropomorphic duck and unsuccessful poet and writer, with an alcohol problemnote , who spends most of his time hanging out in Zeke's, the local bar, where he discusses politics, the state of both the Swedish and the international society, sex, and high, as well as very low, philosophy with his friend Krille Krokodil (Krille Crocodile), a script writer.
One of the first thing the reader will notice is probably Arne's close resemblance to a certain other anthropomorphic duck.note Well, so did Disney and they threatened Christensen with a lawsuit. After first fruitlessly trying to reason with Disney, Christensen drew a strip wherein Arne faked his own death in order to get a plastic operation which radically changed the shape of his beak, and took a name charge to Arne X, which also became a temporary name for the series.
After getting complaints from his readers about the changes, Christensen decided to spite Disney by having Arne buy a fake beak in the shape of his old one, which was held up by a rubber band, and simultaneously changing the comic's name back to it's original title. Christensen then kept drawing the rubber band around Arne's head until Disney finally withdrew the lawsuit threat, as the whole event attracted quite a bit of public attention in Sweden, and increased the comic's popularity tenfold.
Christensen then kept the comic going until 1995, where he felt he had said all he had to say and ended the comic on a high note with Arne finally finding success and getting married. But the story doesn't quite end there.
In 2004, Christensen started out a new series, by the name of Konrad K., in which Arne at first appeared in small cameos. Eventually the a full-on Hostile Show Takeover took place, and Konrad K. was written completely out of the series, while Arne became the main character again, now armed with even more bile against the world, as he in the time between the series had been going through a rough divorce and now had two sons to take care of.
Albums in the series so far
- Arne Anka (1989)
- Arne Anka, Part II (1991)
- Arne Anka, Part III (1993)
- Arne Anka, Part IV (1995)
- Arne Anka, Part V: Återuppuppståndelsen (The Resurrection) (2006)
- Arne Anka, Part VI: Manöver i mörkret (Manoeuvres in the dark) (2007)
- Arne Anka, Part VII: Ner med monarkin (Down with the monarchy) (2008)
- Arne Anka: Rapport från kriget (News from the war) (2010)
- Arne Anka: Voodoo vid vatten (Voodoo by the water) (2011)
- Arne Anka: Utsikt från en svamp (The view from a swamp) (2013)
- Arne Anka: Dagbok från Svitjod (Dairy from Svitjod) (2014)
- Arne Anka: Mentala selfies (Mental selfies) (2016)
This comic provides examples of:
- Alliterative Name: In the Style of... Disney, several of the characters have these.
- All Men Are Perverts: OH yes, the comics main focus aside from social satire is sex and the lengths men are willing to go for it. That said...
- All Women Are Lustful: There are no recurring female characters, but several comics have gone into the fact that, yes, women have a sex drive too and can be just as big horndogs as men.
- Author Avatar: In the 1983-95 comics, Alexander Barks appears in the comic every now and then to deliver some commentary. Barks is always depicted as a man with a sheet over his head, though his eyes, which are perpetually downcast, are visible. Also; many of Christensen's friends has pointed out that Arne appears to have quite a few traits in common with Christensen himself. The comic and the supplemental material plays with it at times, with Arne sometimes accusing Barks of being far too serious or gloomy in his worldview.
- Author Appeal: Arne and Barks both love the music of Bellman.
- The Alcoholic: Damn near every major character in the series, though Arne's drinking habits are shown the most. Partially based on the authors frequent pub crawls in Stockholm in the 80s and early 90s. Many pages either take place during a drinking binge, or is about the characters trying to scrape together cash for one.
- Art Evolution: Very noteable. Compare the early strips from 83-84, to the ones from the early 90s, and then again to the present day ones. His style has changed while still remaining recognizable. The biggest change is that in the beginning Arne looked exactly like Donald Duck (apart from the clothes) he soon grew to look completely different.
- Ass Shove: Happens to Arne when a couple of Hard Gay guys take exception to Arne's insistence on using the word "gay" as a pejorative for things he doesn't like.
- Awful Wedded Life: Parodied in one strip when Micke Misery is bitching to Arne about how boring and predictable being married is, talks loudly about how he wants to just screw random women and not care about tomorrow... and then once he's done venting, he takes an early night, because he doesnt want his wife to get worried by staying out too late.
- The Bartender: Zeke, owner and proprietor of Zeke's bar. Zeke's bar was based on a home bar Christensen and his friends cobbled together for a birthday party in the early 80's and liked so much that they kept it. They ended up spending so much time there that people thought they had left town.
- Butt-Monkey: Arne for the most part, especially in the original comics run. If he's not getting shot down by women, or has his poetry rejected, he gets his ass handed to him when mouthing off to the wrong person while out drinking.
- The Cameo: Several, as part of Christensen's homage to European comic books. Many famous comic book characters will make cameos in the background in street scenes, and in two noteable examples, as part of "Arnes circle of friends". Among these can be mentioned Spirou, Tintin, Asterix, The Phantom, Gyro Gearloose and Goofy. There's also the fantasy sequence with Krazy Kat and Ignatz.
- Country Cousin: Arne's cousin Masen. He's a total subversion of the Country Mouse (or duck in this case), and is in fact so crude and loud that even the normally hedonistic Arne and Krille are shocked at his behavior.
- Children Are Innocent: Krille's nephew Willy, who retains his childlike innocence despite the depravity of his uncle and Arne. Said innocence put Arne in trouble several times, as Willy has the habit of blurting out inappropriate things Arne has taught him.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Arne surprisingly. Despite his near total misanthropy and cynicism, his mother is one of the few people whose feelings Arne actually cares about.
- The Film of the Book: At least a theatrical production (A night at Zeke´s) with Real Life actors. It worked splendidly.
- That said, Robert Gustafsson managed to make full use of Arne´s Large Ham qualities, Like in this scene, equally hammy in the original cartoon version.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Arne's fairy tales often includes depression, madness, mass death, and often ends with the total collapse of civilization. He loves telling them to Krille's nephew, Willy. One of these fairy tales is actually set in Cokonino County from Krazy Kat, including cameos from Krazy and Ignatz.
- One of the worst he ever told him, which veered straight into Black Comedy and never looked back, was about the safety of nuclear power (written around the time of the Chernobyl disaster). It ended with the line "According to the polls, 18% of those asked were against nuclear power. Everyone else were already dead". Cue Willy bawling his eyes out.Krille: Why cant you tell the damn story about Tom Thumb like eveyone else?!
Arne: I was getting there, I was just explaining the setting first!
- One of the worst he ever told him, which veered straight into Black Comedy and never looked back, was about the safety of nuclear power (written around the time of the Chernobyl disaster). It ended with the line "According to the polls, 18% of those asked were against nuclear power. Everyone else were already dead". Cue Willy bawling his eyes out.
- Funny Animal: Humans exist, especially real-life celebrities and politicians tends to be portrayed this way, but the majority of the characters are either this, or simple, Disney-style dog/bear humanoids.
- Funny Foreigner: Ramón Ratón y Ulcera de Guiris, Arne's buddy from Madrid. His function is to poke fun at Swedish institutions from the outside and parody the Latin Lover trope.
- In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Arne and Krille once broke into someone's apartment block when the inhabitant complained about their drunken caterwauling, and began singing through his door. Unfortunately, they were so drunk they picked the wrong apartment. Even more unfortunately, the apartment they picked belonged to the Iraqi consul to Sweden. And to top it off, they were so drunk their slurred Swedish made him confuse it for the national anthem of Kuwait. Hilarity Ensued.
- Identical Grandson: Two longer stories deal with ancestors of Arne, one a poet in post-World War 1 Paris during the bohemic revolution, and the other another poet during the events leading up to the assassination of Julius Caesar. Both stories provide commentary on the popular view of the eras portrayed, and deconstructs them.
- Merchandise-Driven: Parodied in the '93 Christmas comic, which satirized the gigantic merchandise operation for Jurassic Park. In the authors notes for this page, Christensen wrote "all honor to Steven Spielberg, but his merchandise machine can get on your nerves. I was surprised when Schindler's List came out and they didnt try to sell us chocolate gas chambers."
- Mistaken for Gay: Exploited by Krille. When asks why he is friends with a maniac like Arne, he explains that thanks to Arne, he once got six weeks paid vacation for stress related illnesses. When asked how, Krille explains that he recorded a short video of Arne being drunk with his phone and showed it to his doctor while telling him that the video depicted his partner.
- Mistaken Identity: One strip from the mid-80's, which parodied the infamous case of Stig Bergling, a spy who had gotten out of prison by sneaking out an unguarded backdoor, had Arne buy a paper to read more of the story, only to find an article showing that Bergling had plastic surgery and now looked like HIM. After getting hauled off to maximum security prison, he's released when it turns out the paper had accidentaly gotten the wrong photo from the goverment files (Arne's came from the social security registry).
- Ms. Fanservice: All female characters, pretty much. Later explained by the author; we are seeing the world through Arne's eyes, and he is so sexually frustrated any reasonably attractive woman looks like a sexed-up version of Botticelli's Venus to him.
- Named After Somebody Famous: The author's pseudonym, Alexander Barks, is a shout-out to Carl Barks and Alexander the Great.
- Never Mess with Granny: Arne's mother, in spite of being in her nineties and wheelchair-bound, is still an ardent anarcho-socialist, attempts to firebomb the Royal Palace, and credits her long life to her pure, expressed hate for men in general and Arne's father in particular.
- Organ Autonomy: In one strip, Arne has a conversation with his right hand when it suddenly comes alive and chastisises him for wasting his life in bars, desperatly trying to pick up women in a futile attempt at validating his manhood, when his right hand can easily relieve his sexual frustration and let him focus his mind on more important things. Though briefly swayed, once on the way home, Arne tells his hand he's going to chop it off for making him make an ass of himself in front of the whole bar.
- Pretender Diss: Arne's Roman ancestor slags off Virgil as a "fucking dilettante" who only writes about "shepherds and sheep-shaggery" (referencing Eclogiae, the original pastoral love poems and considered to be one of the high points of Roman literature) and "keeps going on and on and ON about the huge epic about the founding of the city he's going to start working on any day now...
- Christensen has stated that this is largely self-referential, and that bad-mouthing some young buck who is hailed six months later as "the voice of his generation" was a frequent and regular occurence in his life until he learned to keep his trap shut.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: One strip has Arne meeting with his friend Kalle Kapun who is looking for moral support after cheating on his wife. Arne quickly makes it clear that he is having none of it, that by cheating Kalle's spat in his wife's face, and that Arne will gladly pay for the bullets if Kalle's wife ever decides to shoot his dick off; in short, he makes it clear that Kalle can take his self-pity and cram it. This also leads to Arne being picked up by a nearby woman who overheard the conversation. This, in turn, leads to the decision to go bar-hopping with Kalle more often...
- Shout-Out: In one strip where Arne is looking for a suit for a wedding, he puts on an old sailor suit, making him look even more like Donald Duck, poking fun at the Disney lawsuit. He even comments that he can't go outside looking like this, or else he will be sued.
- The spy who Arne gets mixed up with was disguised as Pete.
- Shown Their Work: Christensen has an interest in art and literature history and this REALLY shows. Aside from plots and references based on famous literary works, the comic itself often includes detailed replicas of famous paintings.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Masen, Arne's cousin from the country:SO, WHAT ARE YOU READING? "THE DEFENSE BUDGET FOR 1991"? HOW BORING IS THAT? CHECK OUT SOME REAL GUNS! (pulls out a porn mag) YOU KNOW WHAT WE'LL DO IF THE ENEMY COMES? WE'LL WANK ON THE BASTARDS! HAHAHA!
- True Art Is Angsty/True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-Universe. Arne seems to belive this, with most of his work being either incredibly confusing, or dark and depressing.
- One strip, set at The Museum Of Modern Art in Stockholm, was about this topic, with Arne complaining that art had been reduced to an indulgent circle-jerk for the elite rather than having any appeal for the masses.
- Uncle Pennybags: Sigge Pigg, one of Arne's closer friends, is a successfull writer and theater director, and this has far more money to throw around than the rest of his friends. He's based on a real life author Christensen is friends with, who was successfull enough that he could afford to be generous. In Christensens own words, "the jealousy was enormous".
- Unsound Effect: Ramón is introduced by a sound described as "laughter, wrapped in the smell of extremely strong cigarettes".
- Vitriolic Best Buds/Heterosexual Life-Partners: Arne and Krille, especially in the comics original run. The two are inseperable friends, but are perfectly willing to screw eachother over if there's a chance for booze or sex involved. One strip revolved around Arne borrowing Krille's word processor (this WAS the late 80's and actual PC's were just an itch in Bill Gates pants) under the guise of writing an article, then pawning it for booze money. Too bad for him he ran into Krille leaving the pawn shop after getting his camera back...
- Vomit Chain Reaction: Arne, Krille and bystanders when the Crown Princess of Sweden got married◊. Notably includes the Swedish word for pancreas in the Written Sound Effects.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: The comic originally ended in 1995 with Arne having a poetry collection published and become a big success. This ended up making him happy for the first time since puberty. Cue the resurrection 10 years later, and he's right back where he started, alone, bitter and divorced, but now with kids he barely gets to see. The only difference is that his money troubles arent as prevalent anymore, so presumably he still gets royalties for his book.