Lóa Hjámtýsdóttir—part-time pop star in FM Belfast, regular Grapevine cartoonist and illustrator, and Icelandic national treasure—took over The Guardian newspaper’s The Illustrated City series today with an episode about Reykjavík.
“I didn’t tell people about it beforehand because I’m so nuts that I thought I would jinx it,” says Lóa. “Kári Túliníus sent me a link to the Guardian project and I emailed them. The project manager and editor liked the proposal and off I went.”
The comic tells a tale about the changing nature of life in Reykjavík due to increased tourism. Whereas once, pedestrians might know everyone they walked past—and stare at others constantly—now, Reykvíkingur don’t expect to see anyone they know at all.
“I lived downtown 1994-2014, then I had to flee,” says Lóa. “It wasn’t fashionable then. My parents bought an apartment on Laufásvegur and for the first time in my life I got to walk through fallen leaves in the autumn. The neighbourhood was new then, with young trees.”
“But I just noticed this small change about the staring a few months ago,” she continues. “And after thinking about it almost every day I started to try to analyse why we stare. I’m one of the downtown people who left, so of course I see it my way. If I wasn’t so happy about where I live now, I might have been more bitter.”
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