As a high-school underclassmen on the speech and debate team, I met a lot of older student deeply interested in geopolitical issues who prided themselves on being informed and having substantial opinions on the goings-on of the international world. One day, I was talking to one of those older students, and she introduced me to this quirky comic – “Scandinavia and the World” (which we abbreviated to Satw). Satw is a comic strip written mainly by Danes (meaning they’re from Denmark) that provides commentary and humor on Scandinavian news, history and general politics. It was a way for her to learn about other countries and also get a Scandinavian opinion on international current events.
In the strip, each country is depicted as a human, sporting their country’s flags as clothing. The depictions are quite adorable, with each country usually lacking arms and legs unless necessary for the comic, with round heads and big expressive eyes. The relationship and history between each country is depicted in their discussions. For example, there’s one comic that depicts Brexit, where you see the depictions of England and the EU arguing on a plane painted with the colors of the EU flag. England demands to be let off, and after being rejected a parachute from Europe, grabs Scotland (who is unwilling to go) and jumps off the plane, leaving a slightly shocked and resigned Europe behind. Underneath the art, there’s usually information explaining the topic of the comic and providing background of the topic. If the topic speaks for itself (like Brexit) often context is nixed and the writer provides their opinion (which is often quite hilarious).
The comics first started just around the Scandinavian countries, which included Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. But as the comic got older more and more countries joined. Now there are even comics that don’t feature any of the Scandinavian crew but rather depict history or events from other parts of the world.
Some comics are more lighthearted, like the one centered around how in Quebec people race giant pumpkin boats. There are also some comics about interactions between countries, like a depiction of the creation of the bridge-tunnel between Sweden and Denmark.
One of the most insightful parts of the comic for me is the ability to see how America’s actions affect other countries, and to see the events in America through another country’s eyes. One of the most recent of these was during the 2016 election, where the author shows Europe’s disdain, shock and then cold fear towards America actually electing Trump to the presidency. This comic has been a part of my education from an early time in my life when I started to get informed about world politics. I learned how impactful America’s actions are on the world, and how helpless some international people feel about having no control over what America does. I learned about the the inner dynamics of the EU like how France and Germany act with the smaller countries.
Obviously this is a comic, not a history book or a political pundit column. It is subjective because it is affected by the world view and opinions of its Danish creator. But it’s a fun and easy way to start opening your world view to people outside of the U.S. It’s also a fun and easy way to learn about fascinating Scandinavian history and culture. So Reader, if you’d like to be given a healthy dose of cute and informational comic creativity, take a look at Scandinavia and the World. I’ll be partaking often.