Monday, 13 July 2015

Artisan animation with a social agenda: 1970s children’s television in Finland




In October 2014 issue 3 of the Finnish, but Swedish language[i], publication Film Journalen allocated a substantial amount of space to animation and to women creators. Considering its international distribution and profile, it is hardly surprising that the cover should have featured two of the main characters from the 2014 Finnish-French co-production Moomins in the Riviera, the Snork Maiden and Moomintroll himself. The Moomins have grown to become one of Finland’s most successful cultural exports and their creator, Tove Jansson (1914-2001), assumed the status of a beloved national institution already in her life-time. However, while the article about the Moomin film is given a double page spread, a far more substantial portion of the journal is given to retrospective appraisals of domestic animation occasioned by 2014 as the centenary year of the animated film. Particular attention is given to a group of female freelance creators who during the 1970s brought about something of a golden age of home-grown animation within the Swedish-language children’s programming at the public broadcaster Yleisradio (translates roughly as ‘Public Radio’), or YLE. There is an essay running through fifty years of Swedish language children’s animation (Uggledahl 2014: 14-18), an article by Antonia Ringbom (2014: 20-25) based on transcripts from her documentary and a shorter piece by Johanna Minkkinen (2014: 36-37) about the 2014 release of a compilation DVD of animated shorts by Camilla Mickwitz as a cultural heritage undertaking by the Finland Swedish Film Centre. Before proceeding I should declare that Camilla Mickwitz (1937-1989), one of the key figures in Finnish children’s animation of this era, was my mother.  This means that my understanding of the topic, although grounded in research, also draws on memory and my position as an ‘inside observer’ (albeit a very young one) at the time in question. This piece is not intended to amount to a personal tribute, but it would be churlish not to include some personal recollection, as and when appropriate.

Hailed as significant and innovative contributors to Finland’s animation history by the Film Journalen issue and also a (somewhat patronisingly titled) television documentary, Berits stall – tjejmaffian/ Berit’s stable – the girl mafia (Pii Berg and Antonia Ringbom 2014), aired on YLE5 on the 10th of October 2014, Christina Andersson, Kati Bondstam, Ia Falck, Estelle Rosenlew, Antonia Ringbom and Camilla Mickwitz all worked with the children’s television producer and programmer Berit Neumann between 1968 and the mid-70s. This is a segment of women’s film history that offers multiple facets worthy of attention: gender and hierarchies of value in relation to children’s television; creative industries themes’ such as freelance and project based work, industry awards as determinants of quality (Connolly, Hanretty, Hargreaves Heap and Street 2015); barriers to the transnational flows of media in terms of language, and codes of representation. While dealing with each of these considerations in depth is beyond the scope here, I will aim to introduce some examples of content, as well as indicatively consider some contextual factors, in order to situate this fragment of Finnish animation and women’s film-making history. But the relative obscurity of this topic, and its cultural context, prompts me to first outline something of a background sketch.

There is a tendency to summarise Finland’s international profile by tentative listing of a handful of sports stars, design brands and latterly the mobile technology giant Nokia.  The country’s marginal position, culturally speaking, seems underlined geographically. Beyond a long land-border with Russia, it is set apart from surrounding countries by the Baltic Sea. Speeded-up connections by air travel have not managed to render this geographical circumstance any less psychologically potent; I grew up in the capital of Finland with a nagging sense of being incurably tucked away in a peripheral and parochial European region. It is perhaps unsurprising that, much later on, reading theoretical postulations about centre-margins dichotomies had immediate and experiential resonance.

A relatively young nation, Finland is Nordic, but not Scandinavian, and despite occupying a relatively large expanse of space, it has a small population and a (first) language that shares little in common with most other European languages. Historically, Finland in the post WW2 period has also held a somewhat singular position. Despite a being a European free market economy and having a fraught historical and political past with its larger, more powerful neighbour, the country maintained close ties with the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialist states in terms of trade, but significantly also cultural links and exchanges. Why is this relevant here? Looking at the animation that flourished in Finnish children’s television in the 1970s it is possible to discern a fusion of influences of 1950s American limited animation, its aesthetics and principles, and the stop motion techniques and artisan production model of Eastern European animation.

Used by animation pioneers such as Winsor McKay and Earl Hurd (who sought to patent the process in 1914), Walt Disney is most commonly seen as the trail blazer and dominant figure in the history of cel animation. Cel animation involves creating the impression of movement by overlaying static and painted backgrounds with transparent celluloid acetate sheets, on which the figures and their movements are traced. In a report on Finnish animation published by the Finnish Film Foundation, Juho Gartz (1975) makes quite clear how despite the awe inspired by the technical superiority of Disney’s productions, home grown production was galvanised more radically by the (later) example set by UPA’s adoption of more financially feasible practices of limited animation. Meanwhile, possibilities of stop motion animation were vigorously explored in Eastern Europe, in particular in the, then, Republic of Czechoslovakia.

Stop motion animation creates movement through the physical movement of elements in between shots in order to effect the illusion of continuous movement once projected at a range of typically 12-24 frames per second. Time consuming and painstaking as this is, it is still less labour intensive than Disney-style cel animation. It does not, therefore, inherently necessitate an extensive work-force, especially if the goal is not a feature length film. While this technique also had proponents in the US and elsewhere, stop motion animation and puppet animation has a rich tradition in Eastern Europe. Famous names include the Soviet film maker Aleksandr Ptushko and the Czech Ladislas Starewitch.  John Halas and Roger Manwell (1969: 236) have accredited the proliferation of puppet animation here to longer standing folk traditions involving carved dolls. However, it would be wrong to discount the role of state subsidised cultural production of the socialist Eastern Bloc, which offered a platform for individuals and small production teams to explore the medium without the immediate pressure of sustaining profitable box office returns. This most certainly contributed to the emergence of influential post- WW2 creators such as Jan Šwankmajer and Jiří Trnka, the latter’s expression of political dissent in Ruka/The Hand (1965) notwithstanding.

State sponsored cultural production in Finland should by no means be directly compared to that of the structures both enabling and constraining the arts in Soviet era Eastern European countries. But, the 1970s in particular saw a pro-active arts policy in several parts of Northern Europe (Toepler and Zimmer: 32). Arts funding in part worked to support social democratic goals of equality and access for consumers, but also took the form of subsidies and grants schemes for small groups and individuals. Especially in comparatively small and young nations such as Finland, funding of artists and cultural producers by means of grants can be seen as an expression of the wider logic that informed Nordic cultural policy from the beginning of the 1960s up until the mid-70s; a protective measure against the perceived threat of commercial interests and a way of ‘strengthening national identities through cultural policy’ (Duelund 2008: 13).  According to this understanding public funding of artistic production, including the projects of individual and artisan cultural producers, works to protect authenticity, innovation and quality. The idea that the good of the nation is in need of such safe-guarding is informed by a view of the cultural industries that has since been debunked for its paternalistic attitude towards ‘the public’, and criticised for the dichotomy it constructs between commerce and notions of value. And yet, despite a rather comprehensive theoretical fall from grace and further erosion by the general political drift towards neoliberal and market-led positions, this period of cultural policy produced some interesting results.  And while the media and critical attention to this period in Finnish animation history has largely focused on creator personas, the creative industries perspective is found simmering not too far under the surface. But more on this later.

Camilla Mickwitz, having trained as a graphic artist and worked commercially as an illustrator, began her forays into animation under the wing of Berit Neumann, and tutelage of Aarre Aalto who ran the YLE special effects studio (Ringbom 2014: 22) in the late 1960s. At this point, no formal animation education was yet in place in Finland, and home-grown Finnish animation was most prominently featured in advertising, or as short segments in live-action programming. Juho Gartz (1975) has traced historical connections to comic book publishing and illustration, as well as the influential year-long stay in Helsinki in 1960-61 by Robert Balser, later famed for his contribution to the Beatles film Yellow Submarine (1968) and television series Jackson Five (1971-72).

Although the animation of Mickwitz and her contemporaries is far from characterised by technical sophistication (Gartz 1975: 110; Uggeldahl 2014:15), it did achieve significant critical acclaim. In fact, technical naiveté to some extent worked to underline prestige, by defining this group’s work against the slickness, high production values of large-scale production and ‘mass culture’ status of popular imports (read Disney). In other words, the work by this group of animators presented an exemplary fit with the cultural policy of the time. A far more sympathetic fit, supported by established cultural exchange programmes between Finland and socialist Eastern Bloc states, was found with the Eastern European craft orientated aesthetic. However, instead of puppet animation, early Finnish animation was more often a form of simple 2D stop motion: using cut-out pieces of paper and making drawings ‘come alive’ by applying basic principles of animation. This technique is, in fact, also known as cut-out animation. Many of the creators in question made children’s books as well as animated films, also in keeping with the Eastern European model. Seemingly driven in equal measure by the emphasis on a singular creative vision that characterises a field of restricted cultural production (Bourdieu 1993) and a social agenda, this was work asserting claims for children’s culture to be taken seriously.  Because access to these short films is limited, and translation issues (cultural as well as linguistic) further complicate their circulation, I feel that some examples of some of the stories and the characters inhabiting these depicted worlds is needed. It will hopefully help explain the general outlook of this particular crop of children’s animation.

Christina Andersson’s (1936-) very earliest film Tugsummarpojken/The Thumbsucking Boy includes a negotiation between son and father along the lines of ‘you quit smoking cigarettes, and I will stop sucking my thumb’ (Ringbom 2014: 22-23), Mats och hans Föräldrar/Mats and his Parents (1971) grappled with divorce and Jakob Dunderskägg/Jacob Thunderbeard (1979) featured as its central character a distinctly un-conventional child minder. As far from the prim and proper Mary Poppins as imaginable, Jakob, a gruff and unkempt pirate captain, showed that values beyond appearances and conventions ultimately win the day. But perhaps more significantly, especially when considering that he made his appearance more than twenty-five years ago, Andersson’s Jakob challenged gender assumptions in relation to child care. Some years later, taking a broader view and more heavy-handed approach, Anima och Monstret ‘Destruktor’/ Anima and the Monster ‘Destructor’ (1985) by Antonia Ringbom addressed threats to the environment from nuclear power and the excesses of disposable consumer culture. At fifty minutes this was a comparatively long film, and thus ambitious in terms of technical scope as well as its themes.


With a decidedly more upbeat quality characterising her body of work, Camilla Mickwitz went on to publish more than twenty children’s books and write and produce almost as many animated shorts. She also created the logo and ident for the children’s television channel ‘Pikku Kakkonen’ (‘Little Two’), which is currently still in use, and animated a long-running public information film about the dangers of playing on thin ice. Her very first animation, to the soundtrack of ‘The Mice’s Christmas Eve’ (which is a well-known by Norwegian songwriter Alf Prøysen), was aired on YLE’s fledgling Swedish language children’s programme slot in 1968. From there Mickwitz soon moved on to a more authorial approach; writing, drawing, directing and eventually also producing her own films. In order of appearance, her most well-known characters are a small boy called Jason, Emilia (who tells stories with her father, Oskar), and an anarchic little witch, Mimosa, who travels by broom-stick and generally takes it upon herself to be an instigator of disorder. All appeared in several short animations as well as books. The first film introducing Jason (1971) was no more than 5-6 minutes long. The film opens by showing the simply drawn shape of a tower block as the voice-over explains: ‘many people live in this house, big people and little people’.





Jason himself is first seen being pulled by the hand by his mother at such speed that he seemingly flies in her wake; she can’t be late for work and must drop Jason off at the child minder beforehand. Jason’s mother works on the production line in a factory, but earns extra cash as a life-drawing model for evening classes at the art school. In a provocative move, Mickwitz shows her posing between easels, a thought bubble revealing that she’s thinking about the new winter coat she wants to buy for Jason with her wages. The story details aspects of the everyday life this small family unit: watching television together, Jason playing with his friends and baking at the child-minder’s flat, a trip to the hair- dresser’s and the treat of an ice-cream cone bought from a small kiosk. But despite its hum-drum social realism the approach is far from down-beat.


As unsentimental as it is visually rich, this is a vibrant colour-world conjured by crayons and water soluble pencils and characterised by an assured graphic style and sensibility. The single parent family is represented but never explained, commented or elaborated on. In the later, and at 13 minutes slightly longer, Jason’s Summer (1973), Jason and his mother escape the dust and grime of the big city to stay in a rural guest house run by an elderly lady. Here Jason watches the various guests who all holiday in the villa while observing strict social protocols not to invade each other’s personal space. He eventually decides that this is a predictable and dull state of affairs, and by pushing all the small tables in the dining room together forces everybody to get to know each other.


Sharing, intergenerational relationships and the foibles and (ultimately redeemable) shortcomings of adults are recurring themes in Mickwitz’ work. In another Jason story, Angry Agnes, the bad-tempered neighbour who complains about noise on the landing, has an unexpected change of heart. When tooth-ache causes Agnes to swaddle her head in a thick shawl, she finds the isolation of complete silence disconcerting. This helps her realise that rather than just aggravating noise, sounds of other people in the building are in fact reassuring signs that she is not all alone. The Emilia stories tackle a variety of topics: sea pollution (Emilia and The Twins); totalitarianism and simultaneously the power relations between big people and small people (Emilia and King Oscar); elderly ladies reclaiming a sense of purpose as they interact with neighbourhood children (Emilia and Three Little Old Ladies); and not least, the story about the small boy who, despite wishing for a doll to dress and bathe and play with, only ever receives toy cars and trucks on birthdays and Christmases (Emilia and the Doll).                    


Presumably as a result of his thwarted childhood desires, when as an adult this protagonist meets a girl who looks exactly like a doll, he finds her irresistible and they soon move in together. But Nora (with a none-too-subtle nod to Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen) eventually outgrows the doll’s house he has built for her and she leaves. The story ends by a conciliation on a park bench, as Nora (in a more fresh-faced and less frilly incarnation) and her newly re-constructed man agree that real persons are not objects to be owned. Perhaps a tad clunky, but as a politically engaged film aimed for child audiences, it also seems remarkably ahead of its time. Presenting a clear and radical counterpoint to the gender politics associated with Disney princess films, this contribution in fact significantly pre-dates the majority of them, with the exception of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959). So evidently, stylistic markers and production models are not the only aspects worthy of consideration. I think it is true to say that the public funding model and cultural policy that contributed to this work’s emergence, in effect, reproduces the ‘charismatic ideology’ (Bourdieu 1996/1992: 167, cited by Hesmondhalgh 2006: 212) and consecrates of the individual creator. At the same time, it enabled the production and circulation of perspectives and values not necessarily made available in dominant market-led cultural production, producing added breadth in terms of resources for the construction of subjectivities and identities. The observational humour and determined social engagement that characterises this work is no less pronounced than the deliberately hand-crafted aesthetic.

Within the relatively small-scale national context of these films, their profile as domestically produced and pioneering products was further bolstered by critical attention in the form of awards. Prizes and awards are important mechanisms for attributing value by means of industry/peer recognition (Hanretty, Connolly, Street and Hargreaves-Heap 2015: 268). And as in any kind of award and grants economy, also familiar in academic contexts, having proven ability to attract funding significantly adds weight to future proposals. It is therefore a crucial consideration. International film festivals, and especially animation festivals such as the ones held in Bratislava and Annecy were not just networking opportunities. Recognition abroad reverberated back home with considerable effect. Andersson was awarded a prize from the Prix Jeunesse Foundation in Munich in 1972, which was followed by several domestic awards. Mickwitz also has a considerable list of Finnish prizes and accolades. Among others, she was awarded the Finnish State Award for Children’s Literature in 1973, and again in 1976 and 1986, followed by the State Award for Children’s Culture a year later. However, most commentaries on her career focus their attention on a prize given at the Hollywood International Television Awards in 1974. Despite its grand name, this was in fact a small and local industry festival that did not achieve the longevity of some of its competitors, and has since disappeared without trace from festival listing and archives. It is likely that the film was originally submitted by YLE as part of a promotional drive; exposure aimed to drum up interest from overseas networks. When the film was selected for special commendation, this recognition of a Finnish animator (with the instant glamour of the Hollywood name and kudos of the ‘International’ in its title) was picked up by the main national newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat. This in turn ignited interest from a slew of women’s magazines. This short-lived, but nonetheless potently frothy flurry of attention helped cement the idea of Mickwitz as a figure of note on the Finnish cultural scene. The chimera of ‘the Hollywood prize’ still lingers seductively and has become a staple in narratives surrounding Mickwitz’ contribution to Finnish animation and children’s culture.

Confirmations of international recognition are thus an important element in this particularly fertile and productive period in the history of Finnish animation. But despite such industry acknowledgements, and despite being showcased at larger European trade-fairs, most of these animated shorts were taken up and bought mainly by other Nordic broadcasters. It would seem that single parent families, artist’s models and the revolutionary overthrow of authoritarian patriarchs was deemed inappropriate content for children’s television further afield. Granted, this was several decades ago.  


But although topics such as marine pollution (Emilia och Tvillingarna/ Emilia and The Twins) would be unlikely to raise objections today, I struggle to imagine Jason’s mother’s evening job depicted on our screens even now. This display of asexual nudity (a concept that seems utterly incomprehensible beyond a Nordic setting), especially in the context of children’s programming, would surely cause extreme reactions.

Time to return to issues of production. This particular interlude of Finland’s public broadcasting corporation YLE, and in particular its Swedish language children’s television, as a showcase and conduit for artisan animation came to an end in 1975 due to a pay dispute. The work produced by this group of creators was on a freelance basis, and considering the labour intensive processes involved, it is perhaps unsurprising that the lack of contracts and conditions of pay eventually brought about this eventual collapse. Ia Falck (Ringbom 2014: 23) recollects limited understanding of the time scale involved in animation on the part of YLE’s finance department and studio booking system. Moreover, the conditions under which much of this work was produced, gave YLE the complete copyright to all of the films. Hence none of them have been released on video, or DVD[ii]. Antonia Ringbom (ibid: 25) explains how the women animators decided to join the union for freelance programme employees (FOT), which organised editors, graphic artists and others who were mainly employees of YLE, but working to fixed-term and project-based contracts. 1975 saw the first round of strike actions, and an organised boycott meant no more animation would be produced for the corporation. For some of the women who had collaborated with Neumann’s children’s TV department, these development prompted new directions and a move into other forms of production. But for Mickwitz this did not spell the end. She continued to build on a body of work that has come to, for some, earn her the moniker ‘the godmother of cut-out animation’ (Fransberg 1994:81, cited by Uggeldahl 2014: 16). From 1976 to her pre-mature death from an aneurism in 1989, Mickwitz created a large number of films with the independent production company Epidem. Having an established reputation no doubt facilitated further production grants from the Finnish Film Foundation, and YLE now had to pay fees when broadcasting her films.  

There are complex dynamics of cultural value at work in this narrative, and the uneven relations outlined above, between the symbolic sway of awards and accolades and the power struggles between institutional structures and producers working under untenable economic conditions and terms of employment is one such tension.  Another is the status of children’s media and culture in relation to cultural fare aimed for adults. According to a purely (simplistic) economic analysis it is logical that attention and effort should be concentrated on producing cultural goods with appeal to the parts of the population with the most disposable income. But such an instrumentalist view only gives a partial account, and there are other factors to consider, as well as the consequences. Viewing children’s culture as being of lesser consequence clearly has implications for producers of children’s culture, and the conditions under which they produce their work. Children have also notably been deemed a demographic that is particularly vulnerable to the damaging ‘effects’ of media products, and therefore in need of protection by codes and censorship. Connected to this, yet a quite separate, if equally thorny issue is the idea of ‘childhood innocence’ as a quality in need of safe-guarding. Cultural constructions of childhood present complicated debates, and would quickly take me beyond the scope of this contribution. But power relations between adults and children was a noticeable concern in much of this glut of early 1970s Finnish animation, as was the refusal to patronise young viewers by preconceived notions of what kind of content is suitable for them. I would suggest that a key characteristic of these films is that the children depicted in the films, as well as the audiences the films are created for and addressed to, are fundamentally conceived as actors with social and political agency.

And last, but certainly not least, it is unlikely to be mere coincidence that all of the animators in this group are women. In a patriarchal social structure the nurture of, in particular young and pre-school, children is a traditionally female domain, and the gendered allocation of professional roles some forty years ago would have been more normative than  might be the case today. Some of the attitudes by which these producers were met in the institutional contexts in which they initially developed their story-telling techniques would have been coloured by condescension both on the grounds that they were making work for children and that they were women. But the 1970s also included lively and loud challenges to the status quo, as exemplified by feminist and environmental movements. And the work by the women creators of this particular time and place is undeniably suffused by such a zeitgeist. Ringbom (2014: 25) points out the revolutionary spirit of 1968 as a profound influence for their generation, stating that ‘we wanted to impact the future, the whole world, through children’ (my translation), no less. With hindsight such earnestness might seem gauche. Yet the ambition exuding from the work of these women animators is difficult to deny, as it covers both textual content and the instigation of new working practices within the existing institutional frameworks.

Perhaps the best way to sum up will be by conjuring from personal memory. High/low culture and avant-garde/mass trash distinctions were never in question in my childhood home, nor was the privileging of individual creative genius. Mediocrity and petit-bourgeois convention were dispatched with disdain in accordance with the worst snobbishness of bohemian traditions. At the same time, and somehow unencumbered by the inherent paradox, the robustly socio-political agenda of my mother and her colleagues is testament to a progressive politics of change, equality and social responsibility.

My aim in writing this piece has been to insert what I consider a simultaneously vibrant and contradictory historical fragment into a broader transnational context of women’s film heritage and animation history. Going back to my earlier comments about centres and margins, I feel this history deserves some form of presence and connection beyond the northern shores of the Baltic Sea.



Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production. Cambridge: Polity.

Duelund, Peter. 2008. ‘Nordic Cultural Policies: a critical view’, International Journal of Cultural Policy 14 (1): 7–24.

Gartz, Juho. 1975. Elävöitettyjä Kuvia: raportti suomalaisesta animaatioelokuvasta/Animated Pictures: a report on Finnish animated film. Helsinki: Finnish Film Foundation.

Halas, John and Roger Manwell. 1969.  The Technique of Film Animation. London: Focal Press.

Hanretty, Chris, Sara Connolly, John Street, and Shaun Hargreaves-Heap. 2015. ‘What makes for prize-winning television?’ European Journal of Communication 30 (3): 267 –284.


Hesmondhalgh, Devid. 2006. ‘Bourdieu, the Media and Cultural Production.’ Media, Culture & Society 28 (2): 211–23.


Minkkinen, Johanna. 2014. ‘Film Centrum Vill Bevara den Finlandssvenska kulturskatten’/ ‘Film Centre Wants to Restore a Cultural Treasure’, Film Journalen 3: 36-37.

Ringbom, Antonia. 2014. ‘Den Animerade Tjejmaffian’/’The Animated Girl Mafia.’ Film Journalen 3: 20-25.

Toepler, Stefan and Annette Zimmer. 2002. ‘Subsidizing the Arts: art and government in Western Europe and The United States’. In Global Culture: Media, Arts, Policy, and Globalization, edited by Diana Crane, Nobuko Kawashima and Kenichi Kawasaki, 29-48. Hove: Psychology Press.

Uggeldahl, Krister. 2014. ‘Teckna, Klippa, Knåpa, Plåta: Femtio år av Finlandssvenk barnkammaranimation’/ ‘Draw, Cut, Craft, Shoot: Fifty Years of Swedish Language Kids’ Animation in Finland.’ Film Journalen 3: 14-18.


Camilla Mickwitz Filmography:

1968 Hiirten jouluaatto/ The Mice’s Christmas Eve
1969-1971 Max ja Murre/Max and Murre
1971 Pikku Kanin hassu päivä/ Small Rabbit’s Funny Day (with Kati Bondestam)
1972 Sormus/The Ring
1972 Jason
1973 Jason ja Frans/ Jason and Frank
1973 Jasonin kesä/Jason’s Summer
1974 Jason ja vihainen Viivi/ Jason and Angry Agnes
1976 Ollaan yhdessä/ We’re Together
1976-1979 The Emilia series:

Emilia ja omenapuumetsä/ Emilia and the Orchard, Emilia ja Kolme Pikkuista Tätiä/Emilia and Three Little Old Ladies, Emilia ja Kuningas Oskari/Emilia and King Oscar, Emilia ja Nukke/Emilia and the Doll, Emilia ja Onni/ Emilia and Happiness, Emilia ja Kaksoset/Emilia and the Twins.

1982 Mimosa
1985 ...Ja sinusta tulee pelle/ …And you get to be the clown
1987 Mimosan syntymäyö/ Mimosa’s Birthnight
1989 Pieni enkeli/ Little Angel

[i] Officially a bi-lingual country, Finland has a population of just under 5 and a half million, 5.5 % of which is Swedish speaking.
[ii] The recent publication of a dvd of Mickwitz’ work (2014) includes only her later output, produced with Epidem, which according to web pages in honour of the centenary of Finnish animation production, is the oldest Finnish production company specialising in animation.

Since completing doctoral study in the Department of Film, Television and Media at UEA in 2013, Nina Mickwitz has been working as a visiting lecturer and associate tutor at University of East Anglia, University of Hertfordshire and Anglia Ruskin University. Her monograph ‘Documentary Comics: graphic truth-telling in a skeptical age’ (Palgrave-US) is scheduled for publication in December 2015. Nina is one of the organisers of Transitions: New Directions in Comics Studies, an annual symposium at Birkbeck College, London. Current research interests include seriality and the symbolic construction of ‘Fortress Europe’ in European television drama.