A comic artist named Jorgen Van Santen from Oslo, Norway, began exploring the afterlife through his funny comics. “Death & the Maiden” has two main characters, one being death itself and the other, a young woman who passed away in an accident. Through their unique friendship, we get introduced to the afterlife, its perks, and funny differences between the world of living and dead.
In a recent interview with Bored Panda, Jorgen shared what inspired him to explore this concept: “I’ve always been both terrified of – and fascinated by – death. And as a secular person, I struggle with the idea that there probably won’t be a life after death. Therefore, I decided to create my own interpretation of the realm of death. The result might not be perfect, but I think it’s better than many other theories about what happens when we die.”
So, without further ado, we invite you to take a look into Jorgen’s version of the afterlife.
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Jorgen continued answering our question about the inspiration behind these comics: “Another thing is that I find research and fact-checking quite boring. But nobody can present hard facts about life after death, which gives me the opportunity to be a bit lax with facts. Very convenient and comfortable.”
Death & the Maiden has quite a big online following of 64.2K followers. We asked Jorgen to share whether fan reactions change depending on how he tells the story or develops the characters.
Jorgen confirmed: “Absolutely, for better or worse. You get clear feedback on what works and what doesn’t. I don’t care so much (okay, I do care a bit) if some people are offended by the strips, but it sucks if readers don’t understand the jokes. You also notice if readers like some characters more than others – for example, cats – and then it becomes natural to continue with these characters. The same goes for stories and themes. I’ve received feedback from readers who like strips based on real historical events or people, so it’s natural to try to create more of those.”
Fans play a big role in artists’ lives, and we wanted to know if any fans’ reactions surprised Jorgen or changed how he sees the themes he explores.
“Yes, definitely. I had a reader who got very «excited» about one of the main characters (The Maiden) and wondered how old she is and what her bra size is (Yes, you know who you are!). That was quite… interesting. Another reader thought that my interpretation of the afterlife seemed much better and funnier than her own life, so she was looking forward to dying. That wasn’t funny at all.
I was also very surprised by the vehement criticism of the strip about the bat from Wuhan. There turned out to be a huge difference in attitudes towards the different theories about the origin of Covid, depending on nationality. Since then, I now and then try to find topics that upset people. It’s fun when the comments section gets a bit heated. Covid, vaccines, Trump, manspreading, and trolling are examples of topics that many have strong opinions about,” shared Jorgen.
Since the “Death & the Maiden” series has been going for a while, we asked Jorgen to tell us where he sees the story going next.
“I have many ideas and unfortunately, too little free time. I have a strong desire to create longer stories with many episodes, like the story where The Maiden’s roommate ends up permanently in the realm of death. One of these longer stories is about the main characters taking a trip to an alternative – and very absurd – afterlife. I hope I’ll have the time and energy to create it. Otherwise, I want to continue working on both the art style, humor, and storytelling so that the series develops positively and doesn’t get stuck in a rut that makes readers lose interest. It’s not easy!” wrote Jorgen.
Lastly, Jorgen added: “There’s absolutely no money in creating comics (especially on Instagram), so please continue to like, comment, and share the strips so that new readers may discover Death & The Maiden. And please buy the first book called ‘No Rest In Peace For You’ on Blurb.com! Christmas is coming soon, after all.”