If you were wise enough to pick up the Summer issue of Printed Pages you’ll already be familiar with Rami Niemi’s fine work. The Finnish illustrator is a comics artist the likes of which doesn’t come along very often, and he kindly crafted a 12 page story called Lonely Boys for the mag, which included the seven narratives of classic fiction.
As part of our Back to School-themed month Rami had his mum unearth some of his childhood drawings in an attic in Finland and lo and behold, she found this. DOCTOR TÖYRYLÄ is a comic about time machines, Nintendo vans and the very famous ice hockey player named Wayne Gretzky. It’s all in Finnish, so he kindly translated it for us so we could share the joy. And what joy it is. We spoke to Rami to find out what he was into as a super fresh nine-year-old lad, the comics he was reading, and the elements that are still (mostly) the same 26 years on.
How old were you when you made this comic?
This comic is from 1988, I did it aged nine! I’m pretty surprised I was pulling such story arches at that point.
What kind of stuff were you into when you were 9?
I was really into Nintendo 8-Bit at this point. In my hoodz there were guys with Nintendo or guys with Amiga 500, and I was with Nintendo. It was the more rare choice, sexier even. I really wanted Amiga, though, cos it had Ultima and all that other cool shit that Nintendo didn’t.
Around this time there was a bus — or a coach or something — going around Finland, that was basically this arcade on wheels. It was some kind of a marketing scheme by Nintendo. It was basically a bus without seats with maybe 15 Nintendo 8-bit machines and monitors or TVs installed on the walls, with different games on them. And then all the little dorks would wait when it came to their hoodz and barge in and play the games all day. So this happened once in my life, one day, and it’s obviously influenced this story.
Also I was into hockey still, collecting Upper Deck and Topps or some shit like that, and this shows in the end of the story. Probably LA Kings was the coolest. I remember I had this CCM Hockey Jersey catalogue that I was drooling over. It was Ducks and Sharks and Blackhawks jerseys I wanted, whereas Whalers, Red Wings and Flyers were the saddest. Nowadays I would say, it’s completely reversed even.
I think this shows not much has changed — I’m still doing drawings and stories about good guys vs bad guys, materialistic yearnings, whatever. Still the same themes.
What sorts of comics were you reading at this age?
I read Donald Duck, Bamse: The World’s Strongest Bear, Cocco Bill, a magazine called Myrkky which was a Finnish version of a Norwegian fart humour mag called Pyton, Lucky Luke, Hate! Don Martin (the mag was actually called this, it was a Finnish mag of Don’s comics), Mad magazine and some Marvel, like Spider Man, X-Men and Daredevil.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I loved English at school. I was teacher’s pet for sure. I had this big Reader’s Digest Atlas book from 1960s, that had a really detailed map of America with all these little towns marked, and I would make up imaginary hockey teams for some towns and design the logos. Sadly I can’t find any now. One of the bigger teams was called Minnesota Motherfuckers.