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  • Thore Hansen:Norway Illustrator

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Thore Hansen

The Norwegian artist, Thore Hansen, born in 1942, always dreamed of being an illustrator and began drawing as a young child. Hansen studied at the Kunstakademiet in Copenhagen and began his career in the 1960s among the generation of artists that used adult satire in their humorous comics. His years as a sailor also clearly manifest themselves in his drawings of exotic plants and animals.

Hansen started working full-time as an illustrator in 1964. Shortly thereafter, he started collaborating with Jon Bing, and later with Tor Åge Bringsværd. This was the beginning of a long collaboration as Bing and Bringsværd started a science fiction boom in Norway, aided by the drawings of Thore Hansen.

Since his debut short story collection for young readers, Grimaser (1975), he has published nearly 40 books, including the popular fantasy books in the Forest Land series. His collaboration with Tor Åge Bringsværd resulted in the popular Ruffen series that has been translated into many languages. Hansen's own three years of sea adventures lent themselves to the depiction of the Ruffen's sea serpent protagonist.

Hansen's distinctive artistic style incorporates energetic sketches and detailed illustrations. His meticulous ink drawings with a splash of watercolor draw the eye into his cartoon-style illustrations. His work has been described as being similar to that of Dr. Seuss in style -- clever, manic, often humorous and expressive. He has been inspired by art nouveau, but also shows hints of American pop-art and comics in his work.

In reviewing the second book in the Ruffen series, critic Marianne Saccardi noted, "it is enlivened by humorous cartoon-style watercolor and ink illustrations. Penguins dive off a South Pole serpent's humped tail while palm trees grow out of a Tahiti monster's head. There are comical speech balloons, zany hairdos, and a bagpipe-playing Auntie."

Thore Hansen has won numerous awards for his work, including the Culture and Church Ministry Award for children and young people five times, the Nordic School Librarian Association Børnebogspris in 2002 and Bokkunstprisen in 2004. In 2007, he was awarded the "King Frederick Prize of Honor" of Fredrikstad municipality, where he lives and works.

Selected Bibliography

Skogland (1990) Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag.
Ruffen Escapes to Loch Ness. By Tor Åge Bringsværd (2009) San Francisco: MacKenzie Smiles.
Høstfabel (1996) Oslo: Gyldendal Tiden.
Skyggene fra månen. By Jon Bing (1988) Oslo: Damm.
Our World, Victoria (1995) Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk. [End Page 38]


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