GREAT TO MEET YOU JOHN! BUSY DAYS?
Indeed! Right now I'm in the middle of the launch of my next comic book, Sabotage: The Heavy Water (Sabotør: Tungtvannsaksjonen), which I've been working on for over two years.
I recently received my free copies, and I am happy with it. Could probably have added 50 pages, but it was important that we made it available for the 80-year marking of the actual raid.
John's excellent Belgian/French style. Note the Radium watches!
WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL INSPIRATION FOR CREATING THE SABOTAGE SERIES, AND IS IT THE SAME TODAY?
It was a desire to tell the untold stories of the Norwegian resistance during WW2. It’s still about that, but I have realized that most stories from this period is unknown to the next generation. So, my newest project is a well-known Norwegian WW2 story for many, but for the kids I talk to in the schools, it’s new stuff.
THE GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS YOUR PROJECT BY PURCHASING THEM FOR LIBRARIES ACROSS THE LAND. WHAT ARE YOUR REFLECTIONS ON THAT?
It is insane to think about. It all started with a library actually, when I was a kid, the school sent us to the library to pick a book, read it and write an essay on it. I got a comic instead, Peter Madsen’s Valhalla. Suddenly I knew more than the entire family about Viking mythology. That’s what I want for the kids who read my comics. “Dad, wtf? You haven’t heard of the Tirpitz?!” Hahah.
DO KIDS READ THEM?
Stacks upon stacks. John's fourth instalment ready for launch.
GOOD. WHAT’S A TYPICAL WORKDAY FOR YOU?
It depends on the time of year, but when I’m full into producing pages, I am an early starter. I get up around 7-8 in the morning, work until my wife comes home, and then continue working after dinner most of the time. In average I would say I work 10-12 hours a day, often I work some in the weekends too. It’s not healthy. Other times I travel for research, lectures and press tours. I try to get in some training while doing all this, but it’s getting harder the older I get, haha.
WHY IS HISTORY IMPORTANT?
When I was 14, I started skateboarding, and off course we looked up to the guys who were better than us. From them we learned tricks faster than they did because we had someone to learn from. We surpassed them fast in skate skills and they got pissed at us, but then my own skills stagnated. I had to watch videos of skaters so I could learn something new, but it wasn’t the same as skating with someone better than you. Then the next generation of skaters came, and they surpassed us pretty quick, because they learned from us. We were pissed too, haha.
The point is that we can absolutely learn from other experiences, and when I was drawing the bombing of Hiroshima in my newest comic, Putin was threatening the world with Nukes on TV. If we forget what our grandparents went through, why can’t the same happen to us?
YOUR GOOD GUY CHARACTERS TEND TO BE WEARING RADIUM WATCHES.
My comics have several origins. One of them is the work I have done through the years with the man behind Radium, Thomas. While he was starting up Radium, we talked about WW2 and me making a comic about it. He had just put out his Sabotør 2 model, and the name stuck like glue in my head. Thus, that became the name of the comic, and since the watches are based on WW2 watches, the good guys all wear Radium’s as a homage to where the name of the comic comes from.
A hilarious sidenote is that there have been several unrelated products in the wake of the Radium Sabotør watch, including professional hunter’s clothing - all named Sabotør! It’s a powerful concept.
Watches, history and action C.O.M.B.O.
DO YOU DO A LOT OF RESEARCH AS PART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS?
Yes! I am not a academic, so it’s a hassle reading books, documents and interviewing people. My secret is to work with people like historians, or technical experts that knows the source material better than me. They can’t draw, but I can! Most people also don’t understand all the visual research you have to do, sometimes it’s overwhelming, but it’s also fun. Sometimes I feel like a detective.
YOU OWN SEVERAL RADIUM WATCHES. TELL US ABOUT THEM.
My first one is now a relic and incredibly unique, its a Radium Sabotør II, number 7 in the line. This is one of the few that was produced before Radium’s productivity was professionalised. It even has the original strap that is from a old Norwegian rucksack!
The Radium Sabotør II SL Auto is the current version of the "Sab2". It has shorter lugs (47mm), Swiss automatic caliber, central seconds and sapphire dome. Diameter identical to historic - 41mm.
The other one is the watch I use daily, Radium Sabotør model “Saganatt”, which is a collaboration between Radium and my Sabotør comics. It’s one of the first few that has a black case.
When the watches are not in use, they rest on a stand made by two pieces of teakwood from the actual deck of the Tirpitz. Below is the inscription “A little piece’ of a big victory”.
NICE JOHN! WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RADIUM AND OTHER BRANDS, IF ANY?
Everything. I am not a watch enthusiast, I am a Radium enthusiast.
OK. SO HOW CAN WE ORDER YOUR BOOKS?
In Norway you can buy them in bookstores, online or rent in the library. We are working on a English version, but its still in the oven.
Now, click the image below to discover the Sabotør II SL Auto.