Anders Nilsen

Creators / Featured Guests

Anders Nilsen is the artist and author of eight books including Big QuestionsThe End, and Poetry is Useless as well as the coloring book A Walk in Eden. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Kramer’s Ergot, Pitchfork, Medium and elsewhere. His comics have been translated into several languages overseas and his painting and drawing have been exhibited internationally. Nilsen’s work has received three Ignatz awards as well as the Lynd Ward Prize for the Graphic Novel and Big Questions was listed as a New York Times Notable Book in 2011. Nilsen grew up in Minneapolis and Northern New Hampshire. He studied art in New Mexico and lived in Chicago for over a decade. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

He attends TCAF in support of his new ongoing comic series Tongues, self-published.


In the remotest reaches of Central Asia a minor god is chained to a mountainside. Tongues follows his friendship with the eagle who comes everyday to eat his liver, a young girl on an errand of murder and a young man with a teddy bear strapped to his back lost in a wilderness and heading to a crossroads.  

Set in a version of modern Central Asia, Tongues is a retelling of the Greek myth of Prometheus. It follows the captive god’s friendship with the eagle who carries out his daily sentence of torture, and chronicles his pursuit of revenge on the god that has imprisoned him. Prometheus’ story is entwined with that of an East African orphan on an errand of murder, and a young man with a teddy bear strapped to his back, wandering aimlessly into catastrophe (a character readers may recognize from Nilsen’s Dogs and Water). The story is set against the backdrop of tensions between rival groups in an oil-rich wilderness.

Tongues is loosely based on a trilogy by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, of which two plays are lost and only dimly reconstructed by historians. Key to the story of Tongues is Prometheus’ role as creator and protector of humanity. In flashbacks and in Prometheus’ conversations with the eagle and others, the book will touch on humanity’s deep evolutionary past and its complicated prospects for a future. Tongues is both adventure story and meditation on human nature in our present fraught historical moment.

Tongues will be serialized in large-format full-color comics and self-published over the next few years by the artist himself, making it his most ambitious work to date.


Anders Nilsen can be found at the following:

Saturday May 11

9:00-5:00: TCAF Exhibitor Booth 151 (Toronto Reference Library, 1st Floor)
2:45-3:45: The Single Issue: Creators on Serialization at the Learning Center 1 (Toronto Reference Library, 1st Floor)

Sunday May 12

10:00-5:00: TCAF Exhibitor Booth 151 (Toronto Reference Library, 1st Floor)
12:00-1:00: Drawing in Tongues: Anders Nilsen Spotlight at the High Park Ballroom 1 (Yorkville Marriott, 90 Bloor St. E)