Ville Ranta (b. 1978) is one of the most acclaimed and translated graphic novel artists to come out of Finland in the last decade.
His drawings are sketchy and loose, and often feature his trademark watercolour style. His frequent use of shorthand lettering and disregard for framing also set Ranta apart from more traditional “technically correct” styles. Much of his work is semi-autobiographical: subjective and daring. In Ranta’s work, his alter ego ponders the world, analysing love, sex, religion and politics in a philosophical manner.
Ranta’s newest and most gloriously surreal work is King Loses His Head (WSOY, 2018). This work, according to the Aamulehti review (one of Finland’s biggest daily newspapers), raises Ranta on par with Monty Python! And that is no mean feat as we know! Ranta manages to provide a fearlessly current – yet timeless – story about a king whose faith in tradition and in himself takes him on a journey that shall alter everything within his realm. Ranta has drawn inspiration from both the literary classics and plays to provide this wildly-imagined work of great wit, and one that shimmers with his trademark pastel coloured illustrations.
One of Ville Ranta’s most impressive creations is Kajaani (2008), a graphic novel about Elias Lönnrot, the father of Finland’s national epic, The Kalevala. The work was published in France under the name L’Éxilé du Kalevala (Çà et Là, 2010), and subsequently won a nomination in the Angoulême Sélection officielle competition of 2011.
Ranta’s Paradise Suite (WSOY, 2010) offers his personal interpretation of the Genesis story. A standing ovation accompanied its publication, and it was quickly translated into French (Rackham), German (Reprodukt) and Swedish (Optimal).
His work Yes, Not No (WSOY, 2013) tells the tale of a young pastor and a strong woman who attempt to live a free and independent life in a pious and narrow-minded nineteenth-century country town, while the winds of European enlightenment are blowing. Even with its historical setting, the graphic novel aptly reflects the confusion of our current times.
Ville Ranta is also a regular contributor of provocative socially-committed political cartoons for the country’s leading newspapers, making him one of the best-known cartoon satirists in Finland.
Ranta and his family live in the northwest city of Oulu.
The King Loses His Head (Kuningas menettää päänsä, WSOY 2018)
– rights sold: French (Çà et Lá)
Poor Man’s Jerusalem (Köyhän miehen Jerusalem, Asema 2014)
– published also in French (Çà et Lá 2015)
Yes, Not No (Kyllä eikä ei), WSOY 2013
– published also in French (Sept saisons, 2013)
Paradise Suite (Paratiisisarja, WSOY 2010)
– published also in French (Rackham), German (Reprodukt) and Swedish (Optimal 2011)
A selection of prayers (Eräänlaisia rukouksia, Huuda Huuda 2009)
– published also in Swedish (Optimal, 2010)
Kajaani (Kajaani, Asema 2008)
– published also in French (Çà et Là 2010) and Swedish (Optimal 2011)
Celebrities (Julkimot, with Lewis Trondheim, WSOY 2006)
– published originally in French under the title Célébritiz (Dargaud 2006)
Daddy’s a little tired (Isi on vähän väsynyt, Asema 2005)
– published also in French (Çà et Lá 2006)
The English Are Coming (Engelsmannit tulevat, with Mika Lietzén, Asema 2004)
– published also in Swedish (Optimal 2004)
Rain: A Graphic Novel (Sade: Sarjakuvaromaani, Asema 2003)
– published also in Polish (Atropos, 2004)
2017 Ordre national du Mérite (Order of merit awarded by the President of France)
2014 Suomi Prize from Finland’s Ministry of Education
2013 Graphic Novel Finlandia Prize
2009 Puupäähattu Prize for Exemplary Work as a Comic Artist