My first entry to this blog shall be a positive one. Hey, gotta get things started on a happy note.

Well, actually, talking of notes brings me to music. And my taste in music. I’m a fan of many genres, but for some reason, heavy metal just isn’t my thing. In fact, many things you would associate with a ‘goth’ stereotype aren’t exactly my thing either. Tattoos, piercings, long hair which covers the face (I can’t get mine to go past my eyebrows before I get irritated by the way it stabs me in the eye – my own hair is trying to blind me) and well…all that leather. Although I do sometimes like to dress all in black for days when I feel a little mysterious.

Despite all my petty misgivings, I have recently found a comic strip which I absolutely adore, featuring a gothic young woman as its protaganist. It’s called Nemi, and its only passage to the mainstream UK audience (of which I am a member – hello) has been through the Metro newspaper. Which is free. Hurrah!

The comic strip follows the daily adventures of Nemi (pronounced Nem-mi, not Nee-mi, so I have been informed) and her best friend Cyan (so called because of her light blue hair, presumably). The strip takes us through Nemi’s battles with modern life and society, actively resisting the pressures to act like a grown-up at every opportunity.

What probably makes the strip such a winning formula to me is an underlying sense of deja vu – at its heart, the strip feels like an adult version of Calvin & Hobbes which, once you’ve got over the terrifying prospect of such a concept, is actually a Good Thing.

Nemi possesses many of the same traits as Calvin did in the celebrated Bill Watterson strip which ran from 1985-1995 (eek, it’s been gone for more than 15 years already). She has a highly active imagination which plays out brilliantly in some of the more surreal strips (like when she seemingly travels thousands of miles through deserts and snowstorms to see someone she fancies, to begin with the punchline ‘I was just in the neighbourhood…’).

There’s also elements of great satire and commentary on certain targets of today’s society, like the later C&H strips, and in these Cyan tends to play the equivalent straight role of Hobbes. That said, roles can be reversed and Nemi has played the straight gal to Cyan’s dilemmas.

Nemi was created by Lise Myhre, a Norwegian cartoonist who shares several of Nemi’s gothic traits (some of the strips are based on Lise’s experiences while growing up), and has created more than 2,000 Nemi strips already. A Nemi archive exists, thanks to a computer wizard’s technical expertise at accessing the hidden strips from the Metro’s website, but features only a fraction of the entire collection. Or at least it did, until it disappeared when I went to check the link just now. Confound it.

Which is why I’ve snaffled all four books currently available to UK readers, available in decent bookstores (and possibly some rubbish ones too), while I picked mine up on Amazon for a reasonable price. These collections focus on strips from about 2001-2005, judging from the context (much is made of Nemi’s fascination of Lord of the Rings, so several strips focus on the release of the films The Two Towers and Return of the King, which were of course released in 2002 and 2003. Just call me Poirot. Actually…don’t). The books are excellent, save for sloppy production in volume two which results in about half a dozen strips being repeated in the same book. Gnash.

Still, the books are fun to see a different era of the strip – Cyan has a different boyfriend, Nemi smokes a lot more, the overall tone is darker and more angry than recent editions, but retains the quality. There are a few grammatical errors within the translated strips, but I’m sure the translators’ English is better than my Norwegian. And my English, come to think of it.

Also featured within these books are lavish illustrations of Nemi in a fantasy setting, which looks pretty, I guess…plus special extra-long comic strips, usually featuring a story which details Nemi’s ways of coping with being an outcast from modern society, and acceptance that this leads to a reinforced sense of individualism which she can use to her advantage, taking revenge at those who dare mock her.

Maybe it’s a theme that’s developing, but I’ve also been recently enjoying the adventures of another individual determined to rebel against a particular society, from repeats of classic 1960s TV series The Prisoner. But that’s for another day, on another blog… be seeing you.