Lars Krantz is one of those geeks you bullied all the way through high school for playing Dungeons and Dragons and listening to heavy metal. Now he’s turned out to be one of Sweden’s most promising comic artists. Since Charles Burns is near and dear to his heart, he makes really scary pictures with one foot safely planted in reality and the other one in the grave. If you live in Scandinavia, you should pick up his debut comic album Dödvatten (Death Water) before the hype hits-–otherwise you’ll be left without, standing alone like you just dropped your ice cream cone on the sidewalk. Here are some illustrations he did for us of Josef Fritzl, a series called Prisoner of Decay.
VICE: Hi Lars. Explain yourself please.
Lars Krantz: The lack of words make it possible to interpret the pictures as you please, something I don’t see as a bad thing. But if you want a hint, it’s a simple story about how evil keeps repeating itself over and over.
What’s your drawing history? You went to Comics College in Malmö, right?
When I was around seven, I started to trace from a magazine called MASK. I did it on greaseproof paper. When I got a little older, a friend of mine started to write a comic manuscript about a frogman called Larse Ono, which I illustrated. At 20 I went to art school and totally changed direction. I started to paint with oil instead. I thought about doing comics, but I believed you had to know computers to be able to do comics. After art school I was lost as to what to do next, and then a relationship ended. It all changed when an old friend asked me to illustrate his manuscript. The drawings turned out pretty shit, but I moved to Malmö and applied to comics school. And that’s how it started.
And now you’ve just published a book.
It took about a year to finish the book, and it feels great to finally have something published. I feel like I threw away a lot of years doing nothing. I have to be really productive to compensate.
Sounds logical. What’s it like to do horror comics in Sweden? It’s not that common, is it? Must be lonely at the top.
I’m actually not all alone. Both Kim W. Andersson and Benjamin Stengård have done a horror album each this year. But we’re quite different—Benjamin Stengård is more physiological and more Kafka-esque and Kim is doing short stories about everything from samurais to werewolves.
I read on your blog that you liked the horror role-playing game Kult when you were a kid. Has that inspired what you do today?
Definitely. Another RPG that I've played and found really exciting is Noir. It’s hardcore action mixed with Orwellian dystrophy. Horrifying, wonderful. There are stories in that game that were imprinted in my brain forever after just reading them once. It’s simply too mind-wrecking.
You’ve got to bring that to the office some day! What time of day do you work the best, and how do you like your surroundings? Do you want music and naked girls, or no sound at all and the lonely light of a solitary candle?
I listen to a lot of music when I work. I’m usually a pretty down-to-earth guy, but when it comes to music, I’m totally over-pretentious. The longer the record, the better, and really long songs, too. That’s what I like. When I worked on Dödvatten I was really disciplined. I set my alarm to 6:15 every morning. I did snooze until around seven, but then I got up and worked. I had a coffee around noon, and then went home again and worked till between nine and midnight. That was my working routine for between four and six days a week. I got a lot done. But I can’t work when I’m drunk, so I had to sometimes skip the boozing.