A Tradition of Proletarian Comics and Cartoons in Sweden?

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


If proletarian comics are comics drawn by, for and about proletarians, is it then necessary that all three conditions are met for a cartoon or a picture story to be defined as “proletarian”? Inasmuch as comics can be regarded as artifacts of both literature and visual design, this theoretical dilemma is the same as the one faced earlier by researchers of proletarian literature (cfr Lars Furuland and Beata Arnborg in Sweden). With some examples drawn from the past 150 years of popular and leftist press in Sweden, the aim of this paper is to specify the role of cartoons and sequential pictorial narratives for the formation of a proletarian readership and a visual tradition of the labour movement in Sweden. To what extent was cartooning not only a means for survival among young artists with proletarian background, but also a channel for expressing political convictions? (Productive aspect.) To what extent did topics and themes reflect an adaptation to tacit assumptions about the proletarian readership and its organisations? (Socio-semiotic aspect.) What are the prospects if we want to secure documentary evidence that these artifacts reached the intended audience and provoked reactions? (Receptive aspect.) Finally, we might inquire whether a proletarian comics production for a proletarian audience exists today and, if so, according to which criteria?
Period8 Oct 2021
Held atMalmö University, Sweden
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • comics
  • cartoons
  • satire
  • Sweden
  • 19h century
  • 20th century
  • Gustaf Wahlbom
  • Reception History
  • Social history
  • Labour movement