Einar V. Másson. Photos/Laufey Elíasdóttir, courtesy of Fréttablaðið

“Heartwarming to see Bruce be embraced the way he has been”

The LGBT+ webcomic Bruce the Angry Bear celebrates its fifth anniversary at the Hafnarfjörður public library during Reykjavík Pride.

Bruce the Angry Bear is a collaborative project between Australian comedian Jono Duffy (who’s gay but can’t draw) and the Icelandic illustrator Einar V. Másson (who’s not gay but can draw). During Pride Einar will host an art show that features highlights from the ornery bear’s adventures over the past half-decade (as well as hosting a one-time workshop in character design for comics this fall). In an interview with GayIceland the pair talk about their collaboration and Bruce which has now become the longest-running LGBT comic strip in Icelandic history.

So first question, Bruce the Angry Bear is turning five years old, how do you guys feel about it?
EINAR: “No idea, personally. I don’t think it’s really sunk in. Bruce is by far the longest single project I’ve worked on in my comics career. I don’t even remember what my life was like before our weekly collaborations.”

JONO: “It’s pretty crazy to think about. For me it’s especially important because Bruce was an idea I had for so long before it was ever a reality. Five years is a really long time.”

When you started the journey did you ever imagine that the comic strip would continue for so long?
JONO: “Not at all. Honestly I thought it would be a few strips and then nothing. In fact, I think after the first year, I was sure Einar would say ‘Well, it’s been nice but I’m done now. See ya!’ I never imagined we would still be doing it all this time later.”

EINAR: “I try not to bring any expectations to a project like this. I figured we’d just keep making strips until you (Gay Iceland) told us to get lost. I’m glad it hasn’t happened yet.”

Are you happy with the reactions the comic strips have received?
JONO:
“I went into it not really having any specific ideas or expectations about it. It’s been pretty heartwarming to see Bruce be embraced the way he has been. Outside this comic, I’m a stand-up comedian and there have been instances where I’ve met people who only know me as one of the creators of Bruce. That’s pretty cool, and sometimes very humbling.”

EINAR: “I have no idea what our reception is. I don’t like to think about how people react to the strip. I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m a straight dude trespassing in queer space, so I just try to tread carefully, keep my head down and do the work. I wouldn’t be doing this if people told me they were unhappy with my involvement. But the people I meet who know of Bruce have been overwhelmingly positive.”

“I went into it not really having any specific ideas or expectations about it. It’s been pretty heartwarming to see Bruce be embraced the way he has been.”

What have the highligts of your journet with Bruce been – so far?
EINAR:
“For me, it was probably when we went to Harrowgate for our second Thought Bubble Art Festival. We had a nice table setup, made friends, met some other brilliant comic creators and just had a really nice time.”

Jonathan Duffy.

JONO: “For me I think it’s also the comic conventions. I’m always in awe of Einar at those events. He’s really in his element, and I get to sort of stand back and look at this thing we’ve created and it feels really nice.”

EINAR: “Do you remember those two fellas who visited us two Thought Bubbles in a row? They were so nice! I wish I could remember their names.”

JONO: “Yes! I remember them too! But I also can’t remember their names.”

EINAR: “In case they’re reading this, hi fellas! You know who you are.”

For those who are not familar with Bruce the Angry Bear, what are the comic strips about and where does the idea come from?
JONO: “Let’s say it together, Einar!”

BOTH: “Bruce the Angry Bear is a weekly webcomic about a big, angry, hairy, gay man named Bruce who goes on everyday adventures with his partner Spencer in the city of Gaykjavík, which is like Reykjavík, only gayer.”

EINAR: “That’s been our elevator pitch since… well, since we pitched it to you guys. I think it still works.”

How did the idea come into realsation?
EINAR:
“You tell them, Jono. You tell this story better than I do.”

JONO: “Well, the first time Bruce ever entered my mind was way back in 2011 when I was touring Australia with a documentary film I’d made. I was quite twink-y at the time and my film was always scheduled right before a bear-themed romantic comedy called Bear City.

Einar V. Másson.

I kept seeing these bears waiting impatiently for my film to finish because they were really excited to see their bear film. I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was a cartoon character who was just a pissed off bear?” He would just be constantly annoyed and when he’d get really pissed off, he could throw twinks at people like projectiles!

Flash forward to 2016, when I did a talk for TEDxReykjavík, where Einar was volunteering as one of the organizers. He was drawing the speakers during their talks. During the event, he sat down to lunch with me and my good friend Hugleikur Dagsson (who’s both a comic artist and a comedian). During lunch, I mentioned my Bear character, and I remember them both saying it sounded interesting. It was Einar who asked me if I wanted to meet and chat about it more.”

“I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m a straight dude trespassing in queer space, so I just try to tread carefully, keep my head down and do the work.

EINAR: “I could have sworn it was you who asked me to meet and not the other way around!”

JONO: “The next week we met at Te & Kaffi in Kringlan, and he asked me to tell him more about Bruce. As I was talking, I couldn’t help but feel like he wasn’t listening to me at all. He just kept doodling in his book and saying things like ‘ok.’

After about ten minutes, he turned his book towards me and said, ‘Is this Bruce?’ He had been drawing what he thought Bruce looked like based on what I was saying. I remember being so taken aback because it felt as though he had pulled Bruce right out of my head and put him on paper.”

EINAR: “I took it as a very promising sign.”

JONO: “From there we worked on expanding the world a little and developed a supporting cast. We then came up with the first five strips and agreed to pitch them to some media outlets to see if anyone was interested, and the rest I guess is history.”

You’ve previously expressed an interest to expand the world of Bruce, for example by doing an animated series based on the comic strip. Is that idea still on the table?
EINAR:
“Sure! Do you know who’s buying?”

JONO: “An animated series would be amazing. Ultimately I think it would be a real dream to one day have full half-hour animated episodes of Bruce the Angry Bear. I even know how some of the characters will sound.”

What are your plans for the comic strip?
JONO:
“I think in the future we would love to move towards some more long-form stories. Like a whole book that is just one big adventure.”

Bruce in printed form. You can get in touch with the guys to get a copy.

EINAR: “A full-length graphic novel would be very exciting! It would be fun to break out of the three-four panel format for a change. More immediately, we’re still working on making the comic sustainable. Making Bruce is fun and all, but each strip is a day’s work we could be putting into something more profitable.”

JONO: “It is a lot of work to make just one strip. But also as I said before, it would be nice to take some time to make the equivalent of a full-length TV episode, to make a separate adventure that is a bit of a stand-alone.”

EINAR: “If folks like the sound of that, they should send us a message via e-mail or on social media. They know where to find us!”

JONO: “They can also support us via our Ko-Fi account (ko-fi.com/brucetheangrybear) where folks can donate as little as €1.00 to help us stay in production.”

EINAR: “We also have postcards, buttons, printed collections and stickers at our convention table (when and if we ever visit a convention again), and we can offer custom prints of individual strips that people can frame. Jono, do you think that’s enough shilling?”

JONO: “I think that’s enough for this article, yeah.”

“I’ve always got some irons in the fire – too many, in fact – and I think Jono’s stand-up career is coming back from the dead after 2020 tried to kill it?”

You’ve also worked together on other projects, tell us about that?
EINAR:
“Well, we worked together on some cartoons for the Mannlíf newspaper, but we haven’t done one of those for a full year now.”

„Bruce represents a generation of gay men who at times feel forgotten about. Now, that a lot of those rights have been achieved, he’s not really quite sure how to grasp the current zeitgeist.“

JONO: “Oh yeah, we did do those! Haha! I’m always moving forward, so sometimes I forget things I’ve worked on.”

EINAR: “I almost forgot myself! It’s been a hell of a year.”

JONO: “I really think Einar was the major creative force behind those strips. It’s something I’ve loved watching over the last five years, seeing how Einar’s grown as not just an artist, but also as a comedian.”

EINAR: “As I recall, there were some changes in the editorial staff there. I guess they lost my number in the process, because they haven’t called me since.”

Are you currently or intending to work on something else?

Bruce has foils like Spencer, his boyfriend, to help point out how unreasonable he is.

EINAR: “Well, I’m vice-chairman of the Icelandic Comics Society and we just wrapped up our two gallery shows at the Reykjavík Fringe Art Festival. I’ve always got some irons in the fire – too many, in fact – and I think Jono’s stand-up career is coming back from the dead after 2020 tried to kill it?”

JONO: “Hahaha, yes 2020 tried to kill a lot of things. For me, at the moment my life is mainly spent between learning French (I live in Paris now), and trying to bring my comedy career back again after being dormant for so long. I’m vaccinated, so as soon as travel is allowed, I’m totally available to come to Iceland for annual parties (hint hint).”

EINAR: “I thought we were done shilling?”

JONO: “There’s always room for a little more shilling!”

EINAR: “We’ve got some ideas that we’re kicking around between us, but nothing we’re ready to talk about just yet. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.”

Note: Einar will also host a one-time workshop in character design for comics. The art show is open to the public, but the workshop is limited to 18+ year old attendants.

Both events are free entry.

The art show opens at 5:00pm on Tuesday August 3rd at the Hafnarfjörður public library.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Nasdaq

         

        Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offering of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.

        With over 4,300 employees in 39 offices around the world, at Nasdaq we all contribute to the success of the company and its culture, and each one of us has the ability to make a difference. When it comes to our core mission and values, we embrace the role of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) as a fundamental driver of our corporate growth, workplace culture and market development. We strive to create a culture that embraces the power of different perspectives—a culture where people’s unique backgrounds and different experiences helps us fuel innovation and support our clients around the world.

        Our unique position at the center of the capital markets allows us to see firsthand how these values have redefined corporate culture and success, deepening and accelerating our own commitment to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, as we strive to create more equitable opportunities to help people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. Most notably, we published our diversity statistics for the first time in 2020. These metrics serve as a quantitative assessment of where we are today and help determine what strategies we need to adopt to enhance diversity in the workplace. We recognize that we have much work to do, but we are steadfast in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture—one that reflects the communities in which we live, allows all employees to be their true, authentic selves and fosters individual growth and achievement.

        As we move forward together, we will continue advancing diverse ideas and perspectives that help fulfill the promise of a more inclusive and prosperous world. We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about the company, technology solutions and career opportunities, visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @Nasdaq, or at www.nasdaq.com.

        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater
        comes from 2.000 meters within the earth where seawater and freshwater converge in a tectonic realm of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals—the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

        From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing two hotels, three restaurants, three
        geothermal lagoons, a subterranean spa, a renowned line of skin care, a thriving research center, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

        Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

        The Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

        Whales of Iceland
        - larger than life

        Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

        Landsbankinn
        - leading financial institution
        Landsbankinn

        Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

        The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

        Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

        The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

        Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

        Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

        It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

        Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

        Aurora Reykjavik
        - northern lights center

          Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

          Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

          The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

          Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

          Contact Aurora

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            Dohop
            - get inspired
            Dohop

            Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

            Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

            More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

            VSÓ Ráðgjöf

               

              VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

              Macland
              - for all your Apple needs
              Macland

              From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

              Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
              For all your Apple needs. We are here.

              Ísey skyr
              - once tasted never forgotten

              Our Story
              Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

              For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

              Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
              This is our secret and you are in on it

              You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

              Núðluskálin
              - noodle bar
              Núðluskálin

              Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

              All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
              We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
              Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

              Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

              Seatours
              - adventure cruise

              Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
              and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

              The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

              600x400-seatours-tasting

              This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

              600x400-seatours

              The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

              Birds, possible to spot:
              -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
              -eider ducks
              -shags
              -kittiwakes
              -fulmars
              -white-tailed eagle

              The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
              Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

              Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

              Contact Us


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