Ruffen, my childhood sea dragon


Thore Hansen was one of my childhood heroes. His drawings were magic then, and they are still magic now. The best known of his children’s books illustrations are the ones accompanying Thor Åge Bringsværd’s stories about Ruffen. Ruffen is a “small” sea dragon, and the books tells the story of his adventures.

This post was initially going to present Thore Hansens wide variety of work, but I realised that Ruffen deserves his own mention. I will get back to Thore Hansen’s darker, stronger and more brutal, absurd and fantasy illustration another time. For now, I present Ruffen. All the stories starts with…

“Far out in the ocean, there is a mysterious island. It is only visible every Tuesday and Friday. Therefore, it is not to be found on any map. On this island there is a castle, and in that castle lives an old, noble family of sea dragons”…

The Ruffen stories do not shy away from difficult subjects such as pain, suffering, war, politics, environmental issues, race, and death. They are intelligent, funny, wondrous, wildly absurd and delightful. Tor Åge Bringsværd is a splendid storyteller; Thore Hansen makes them breathe. The use of colour and contrast range from inspired to wild to acid trip. Love that guy.

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