I was born in Odense, Denmark in 1964 and grew up there. I had my first comics published professionally when I was 16. When I was 20 years old, I opened a comic book store, Den Blå Bil, with a good friend and comics writer, Morten Hesseldahl. We operated the store for two years and then I moved to Copenhagen. Morten and I had sold a comic strip to Ekstrabladet, Denmark’s largest newspaper at the time. My first proper graphic novel, Drømmen om Langskibene, was published the same year, in 1987. Since then, I have made a living as a cartoonist. I moved to the USA in 1992 and has lived in New York City since with a two-year stint in Toronto in Canada in the mid-nineties.
I liked a British TV-Series, The Persuaders, a lot as a kid and enjoyed the novels of Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne, but my main passion was comics, especially the French and Belgian ones. I loved Valerian, Red Dust, Bernard Prince, Asterix, Lucky Luke, Lone Sloane, Tanguy et Laverdure, Corto Maltese and especially the work of Jean Giraud/ Moebius; Blueberry, Le Garage Hermetique, Arzach and John Difool. If it had not been for the inspiration from Jean Giraud’s books, I am not sure I would have made comics my life’s work.
I am autodidact as an artist, so I primarily learned by doing. I was lucky to get an early start, but that also meant that a good deal of my work saw publication before it was really up to professionel standards. When I see examples of my first published comics, I cringe.
I have had two steady jobs in my career: The first one was 18 years (1989-2006) as the artist on the daily newspaper strip Ferd’nand, the second one was drawing Beetle Bailey (2007-present) for the Scandinavian Beetle Bailey magazine. Besides that I have published 34 graphic novels, among them Gavrilo Princip (2014), Le Chute de Cuba (2016) (written by Morten Hesseldahl), Davis Crook (2018) (written by Julian Voloj), Leon & Sofia Tolstoi (2020) (written by Chantal van den Heuvel) and Samtidig (2020). I have also drawn numerous illustrations with the character Petzi (Rasmus Klump).
I live in the USA and it seems to me that the traditional comic book is loosing more and more of its market share. Mainly to manga, but also to graphic novels dealing with a much broader range of issues. Graphic novels for teenagers are selling really well these days.
I certainly hope so that comics affect our realties. All art affects society, I believe, of course to a larger or smaller degree depending on the work. Art is simply part of the conversation we have as human beings.
I prefer not to make that judgement myself about my greatest achievements. The readers and reviewers can determine that.
My advice to the new generations, just two things: 1. Stay hungry. If you achieve your goals early, they might have been too modest. And 2. Always try to do something that is difficult for you. Even though it can be frustrating, it develops you as an artist.
I have just published Leon & Sofia Tolstoi, written by Chantal van den Heuvel, drawn by me and published in French by Editions Futuropolis. Right now, I am reading scripts and deciding on my next project.