comic art by Wallu (Harri Vaalio)

Harri Vaalio (Wallu) is a comics artist from Finland, who has created a great many comic strips for Finnish newspapers and magazines, often school, sports or videogame-related. Among his best known creations are the newspaper comics 'Lämsänperäläiset' (a.k.a. 'Armas', 1977) and 'Punaniska' (a.k.a. 'Redneck', 1990). Several of his works have also been published outside of the Finnish borders.

Born as Harri Sakari Vaalio in Kärkölä, Päijät-Häme, in 1956. He published his first comic strip, 'Lumimies', in the magazine Sarjis in 1974. Following his graduation as a class teacher in 1979, he worked as a teacher in Lappila and then in Järvelä. He has been professionally publishing his comic strips on the side since 1977, and by 1984 he was able to leave his dayjob and become a fulltime cartoonist. He was an avid self-publisher of comic books in the early 1980s, and two of his comics won the Kemi Comics Competition in 1981 and 1982.

His long-running pantomime sports gag strip 'Lämsänperäläiset' (also known as 'Armas') has run daily in many Finnish newspapers and magazines since 1977, first in black-and-white, then from the 2000s on in color. It has furthermore appeared in Sweden, Germany, Portugal and the United States. As a result of his background, Wallu has made many school-themed comics, including 'Pasi' (1979), which as run in JiiPee magazine for many years. His family comic about the striped cat 'Hessu-Kissa' appears in the pre-school magazine Lastenmaa since 1985.

Another popular creation by Wallu is 'Mikrokivikausi' ("Micro Stone Age"), about a nameless caveman who invented the computer. Many jokes are computer-related, while dinosaurs and other cavemen also play a role. It appeared in the computer magazine MikroBitti from 1985 until 2013, and then in Skrolli since 2013. 'Ötökkä' is a humor gag strip about mosquitoes, which won the second prize in the Kemi Comics Competition of 1987. In the period 1986-1988 he was one of the Finnish artists recruited by the publishing house Sanoma to produce local 'Winnie the Pooh' stories for the eponymous Disney magazine, called Nalle Puh in Finland. Wallu produced a total of 11 short stories, as well as some illustrations. Wallu's comic strip about the masculine 'KyöPelit' and his loveble sidekick Nahkhiir appear on a monthly base in the videogame magazine Pelit since 1993.

Mikrokivikausi, by Wallu

In the early 1990s Wallu and writer Rauli "Rallu" Nordberg created the humoristic western comic strip 'Punaniska' (literally "Redneck", 1990-1993), which ran in the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. The main protagonists were the rough gunslinger Punaniska, whose physical appearance is modelled after the comic strip's writer, Rauli Nordberg. His sweetheart is Dolly, for whom he has unrequited love. Punaniska is often assisted by his dumb sidekick Törttö-Bill, trying to defeat the vicious outlaw Psycos-Bill. Much like Morris' 'Lucky Luke' the comic strip also featured cameos of famous Wild West legends, such as Billy the Kid (who was a literal baby in the series) The stories were notable for their absurd storylines and shameless puns. After a while the series became so popular that Wallu had to hire assistants, such as the Brit Hunt Emerson. In 2003 it was rebooted as 'Viheriöiden Punaniska' (2003) in the golf magazine Gaddie Magazine. Rather than cowboy stories Punaiksa was now seen on a golf court.


Redneck

Wallu has also made comic adaptations based on the Finnish political satire TV series 'Itse valtiaat' ('The Autocrats', 2002-2004) for Arktinen Banaani and Filmiteollisuus. Among Wallu's many other creations are 'Wallun luokka' (JP-lehti, 1980-1986), 'Ope ja me' (Me-lehti, 1980-1981), 'Rokratio' (OK-rocmagazine, 1981-1984), 'E.K.A.' (Tuoteuutiset, 1983-1987), 'Mikkonen' (Softari, 1989-1990), 'The Funny Side' (Lumi Magazine, 1989-1990), 'Samposet' (Telemat, 1993-1994) and 'Kovanen&Pehmonen' (Net, 1994-1997). 'Rotta' (1982-1986) was a co-production with Rauli Nordberg, while 'Hapsutakki' (1990-1993) was created in cooperation with Kaarina Luoto. He has provided illustrations and lay-outs for magazines like Tietokone, MikroBitti, Pelit, Urheilulehti, Lastenmaa, Kotimaa, Peliasema, Logisti, Punaniska and KotiPC, and also for schoolbooks and publications of the youth organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. He has also acted as chairman of the Finnish Comics Association (Sarjakuvantekijät ry), which was founded in 1995. In this capacity, he has worked to improve the professional position of the comics author in Finland, especially with regard to copyrights and the cultural status of the medium. He writes articles about comics in Pelit magazine since 2003.

Series and books by Wallu in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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