Swedish cartoonist Martin Kellerman drew his first comic strip of himself with a dog’s head when his girlfriend split and he lost his job. Rocky was an instant classic! Today Rocky has run for almost 20 years and is on display in about 50 newspapers and magazines around the world! Now you can meet Rocky in Stockholm – he has moved into the Museum of Spirits in Stockholm.
Rocky has moved into the museum, bringing his kitchen, his studio, his country cottage and his friend Igge’s living room – settings familiar to anybody who has followed Rocky over the years.
Martin Kellerman’s newspaper strip Rocky is considered a very important part of Swedish and particularly Stockholm culture. “When I was a kid my goal was to take over Don Martin’s job at MAD Magazine when he died. I copied his style for years so that I’d be able to take his place eventually. When I eventually developed my own style my goal was just to be able to make a living from drawing,” said Kellerman in an interview with Comics Reporter.
It was, however, an autobiographical comic strip in funny animal style that began publication in the free newspaper Metro in 1998 when things had gone straight to hell for Martin Kellerman. Having recently been dumped, and sitting on the train from Uppsala, he drew himself as a dog with a noose around his neck.
The strip centers on Kellerman’s alter ego Rocky’s troubles with women, his job as a cartoonist, his friends, and the everyday life of partying and being bored. In Rocky’s world, drinks rarely play the lead role. The alcohol is just a prop. But at the Museum of Spirits, you can take a seat at the kitchen table, pop the cork and relax at home with Rocky.
The stripe was translated into Norwegian (by Dag F. Gravem in Dagbladet, from 1999) as well as into Danish (by Nikolaj Scherfig in Politiken, from 2004). The setting was changed from Stockholm to Oslo and Copenhagen respectively, and Rocky changed his passport rather seamlessly. To some members of the audiences in the other Scandinavian countries, Rocky appeared to be inherently native and readers are sometimes surprised to learn that Rocky is in fact “as Swedish as surströmming [sour herring] and Systembolaget (Wine Monopoly)”.
“A lot of people just laugh at the characters because they think they’re stupid and pathetic, but I don’t think they would laugh if they didn’t recognize themselves,” said Kellerman to Comic Reporter.
Until 29 October 2017 you can meet Rocky in Stockholm.
Meet Rocky in Stockholm. Written by Tor Kjolberg