Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Anders Nilsen  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Other

Born: 1973 New Hampshire

-- Website --
-- Anders Nilsen on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

The author studied at the School of the Art Institute before working on comics full time. Nilsen still lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Big Questions
ISBN: 1770460446

Drawn and Quarterly. 2011

A New York Times Notable Book of 2011, included on, Publishers Weekly, and NPR'S Best Comics lists

A haunting postmodern fable, Big Questions is the magnum opus of Anders Nilsen, one of the brightest and most talented young cartoonists working today. This beautiful minimalist story, collected here for the first time, is the culmination of ten years and more than six hundred pages of work that details the metaphysical quandaries of the occupants of an endless plain, existing somewhere between a dream and a Russian steppe. A downed plane is thought to be a bird and the unexploded bomb that came from it is mistaken for a giant egg by the group of birds whose lives the story follows. The indifferent, stranded pilot is of great interest to the birds―some doggedly seek his approval, while others do quite the opposite, leading to tensions in the group. Nilsen seamlessly moves from humor to heartbreak. His distinctive, detailed line work is paired with plentiful white space and large, often frameless panels, conveying an ineffable sense of vulnerability and openness.
Big Questions has roots in classic fables―the birds and snakes have more to say than their human counterparts, and there are hints of the hero's journey, but here the easy moral that closes most fables is left open and ambiguous. Rather than lending its world meaning, Nilsen's parable lets the questions wander where they will.

Dogs and Water
ISBN: 1897299087

Drawn and Quarterly. 2007

Dogs and Water chronicles a piece of a lonely journey, without origin or destination. A young man wandering a nameless path has only a stuffed bear as a companion, which inertly endures his desperation, anger, and musings along the way. The landscape is cold and bleak with few landmarks, and offers only precarious encounters with animals and armed men. These interactions are rife with instinct, the drive for survival, and human ethics concerning the killed and injured. He finds acceptance with a pack of dogs, though their nature is wild and their potential threat is as unsettling as the sudden presence of a massive pipeline on the horizon. In a dreamlike state, the endless land becomes a vast body of water where his boat is destroyed and his body floats in a subconscious space. On land, the road disappears and only blind circumstance remains. All is uncertain and all can be lost, but he continues on regardless.

Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes
ISBN: 1560979801

Fantagraphics Books. 2009

Rare book

Monologues for the Coming Plague
ISBN: 1560977183

Fantagraphics Books. 2006

by Anders Nilsen
These are experimental, absurdist art comics that play on language and sequential abstractions. Nilsen jumps from the gag cartoon to paranoid soliloquies of a surrealistic apocalypse, with references to contemporary politics, pop culture, and religion. A page-turner that's funny, and a tour de force in black-and-white and color.

Don't Go Where I Can't Follow
ISBN: 1894937937

Drawn and Quarterly. 2007

Don't Go Where I Can't Follow is a tender collection of letters, photographs, and drawings Anders Nilsen has compiled in memory of his fiancee, Cheryl Weaver, who died of cancer in November 2005. It is an appreciation of the time they shared together, and a heartbreaking account of the progression of her illness. Including early love notes, simple and poetic postcards, tales of their travels together in written and comics form, journal entries and drawings done in the hospital during her final days, and a beautifully rendered tear-jerking account of Weaver's memorial, Don't Go Where I Can't Follow is a deeply personal romance, and a universal reminder of our mortality and the significance of the relationships we build.

End, the Vol. 1 (Ignatz)
ISBN: 1560978147

Fantagraphics Books. 2007

Number 17 in the Ignatz series.

Big Questions #11: Sweetness and Light
ISBN: 1897299826

Drawn & Quarterly. 2008

Acclaimed cartoonist Anders Nilsen continues his surrealist trek through the queries and conundrums of life that plague the minds of reptile, fowl, and mammal alike. In the eleventh issue of Big Questions, Nilsen's detailed yet minimalist visual style continues to grow in answer to the complexity of the concepts he addresses in his writing. It begins at the dead of night. The Idiot sleeps, the Pilot dreams. He seems to wake momentarily, sleepwalking out into the night on a curious errand. One injured bird also wakes after days of unconsciousness and leads his protector, the reluctant Louis, on a slow crawl toward the site of the explosion that wounded him. Philo shares a late night conversation and midnight snack with a crow. The dogs squabble.

Big Questions #8: Theory and Practice
ISBN: B001L288AA

Drawn and Quarterly. 2005

Back issue comic.

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