120 Days of Simon

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A couple of years ago a Swedish cartoonist/rapper named Simon Gärdenfors posted a notice on his blog about a stunt he was planning. He was going to take a four-month couch-surfing trip around Sweden, never staying more than two nights in the same place, and never setting foot in his own home during the trip. He asked his fans: who would like to feed me and let me crash at their place?

About 70 people signed up. The 28-year-old Gärdenfors was pleased to see that a lot of them were women, because he was hoping to have sex with as many of them as possible. In fact, he had sex with the first female he stayed with, a high school student who took him to a kindergarten were she worked (it was at night and the place was closed). They fell asleep in the classroom and they had to hurry out in the morning before the kids and teachers came in.

Gärdenfors adventures grew increasingly weird and cringe-inducing as he traveled up and down the country. His drawing style is appealingly cute and simple, which contrasts with his sleazy exploits: they include having sex engaging in sexual activity with a junior high school girl, not using a condom because he doesn't like they way they feel, and recounting events that people asked him not to include (he even put in the parts where people said "Don't put this in your comic").

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The back cover of The 120 Days of Simon lists some of the highlights from the 416-page graphic novel. He "visited an ostrich farm, ate a psychedelic cactus, practiced free love, received death threats, was beaten up by teenagers, got adopted by a motorcycle gang, drank obscene amounts of alcohol, and sacrificed his underpants to the Nordic god Brage… When this graphic novel was released in Sweden, it created a bit of a scandal. Some readers wanted to punch Simon in the face, while others hailed him as a hero."

I wouldn't call him a hero, but I found Gärdenfors' couch-surfing, mooching, drugged, unapologetically-selfish (and self-aware) odyssey to be incredibly entertaining. You don't have to like the guy to be interested in his story, but the fact that there is something a little likable about the jerk makes his story all the more compelling.

The 120 Days Of Simon (The book is out of stock on Amazon, but you can order a copy directly from Top Shelf.)