A troll and a viking walk into Wildwood Cafe.
This is not the start of a joke, but rather the start of a new Stoughton Comic Book series.
Graphic designer Gary Nauman and author Nathan Peterson created the adventures of Vidar and Hans about a troll and a viking whose story is based in Stoughton.
The two want to be superheroes, and their adventures are coupled with day-to-day activities – awkward first dates, working at a tech repair store and spending time at places like the Stoughton Public Library and the Viking Brew Pub. Eventually, the characters, who avidly listen to their police scanner, meet a villain in the Norwegian city.
“Let’s just say, there is a future issue coming up that is Hans and Vidar versus Bunzilla – a huge bunny” Nauman told the Hub.
Eight issues in the series are set to be released in June, but Nauman said that there is potential for more. They have initiated a fundraiser, or Kickstarter, to raise money for the graphic novel – so far they have raised more than $600, passing their original goal of $400.
Nauman partnered with Peterson to develop the series to strengthen their artist abilities.
Nauman’s usual work is done with linoleum block cut, where you carve a block of linoleum and then ink it, and use it to make prints. But the drawings in the comic books are done by hand and then transferred to digital images.
The authors had originally planned to unveil the first edition during the Syttende Mai festival in May, but since the cancellation of the event as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they came up with an alternative plan.
“How to Syttende Mai in a time of Quarantine,” is a free Stoughton comic book and teaser into the life of Vidar and Hans. The characters find alternative ways to celebrate Syttende Mai like purchasing cheese curds to make at home, a canoe race in the bathtub and listening to the Edvard Grieg Choir on a phonograph.
“Like everyone else, we were discouraged and saddened by all that’s happened in the last few weeks,” Peterson wrote in a news release. “But then we realized we had an opportunity to honor the spirit of Syttende Mai and brighten things up a little even if we can’t all gather physically.”
Nauman, whose three children went to school Stoughton, said as he was drawing for the comic book, he reflected on the charm of the downtown buildings.
“There are so many details on Main Street,” Nauman said. “There is a mix of how it has been kept up in tradition and built on the charm – but then the older buildings that have the original details like iron hand railings, or details in the sidewalks. There is a lot of beauty all around us in Stoughton.”
He hopes the pleasure that he has taken in creating the comic book will resonate with other artists.
“I just hope that it’ll be encouraging to people who like to communicate visually,” Nauman said.
For information, visit vidarandhans.wordpress.com.