Viivi ja Wagner (Viivi and Wagner) are the two key characters in the daily comic strip of the same name. The strip is designed and drawn by Jussi Tuomola aka Juba, and appears in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, in its paper and online editions.
The relationship between the two is hard to fathom, let alone describe. Viivi is a young- to middle-aged woman, who seems generally to get on with life. She is definitely the long-suffering 'straight man' of the pair, and plays a wifely or motherly role to Wagner depending on the situation.
Wagner is a pig. Literally and figuratively. He is simultaneously childlike and laddish; at the supermarket, he rides in the shopping cart. He farts, burps, blows his nose straight into his hands and doesn't care less. Despite this, he is a lovable character, due to his naivety. In an interview, Juba points out that Wagner isn't a metaphor for a piggish man; he simply is a pig.
The cartoons generally cover a range of domestic and lifestyle situations; shopping, cooking, and so on. Occasionally a departure is made into more interesting - sometimes quite surreal - subjects. These include dream sequences or a surreal episode where Wagner floats away to France, for example.
One interesting characteristic which sets it apart from normal comic strips is that there is often no real joke, and no punchline. It is merely the situation, and knowing the characters that provides the humour.
They argue, Viivi despairs with amazing regularity, and Wagner is a spoilt brat. Despite this, they undoubtedly love each other a great deal - although again it's difficult to tell at first if it's platonic or not; after all, who would marry a pig? However, many strips imply a sexual relationship - and at least one suggests they are in avoliitto, or common law marriage.
Examples are difficult to give, as a lot is often lost in translation, or is only funny given a basic knowledge of Finnish culture or language.
In one strip, Viivi is learning English, and points out that in English they have the words "he" and "she" for men and women (Finns have no grammatical gender). Wagner points out that Finnish has "hän" (he/she) for men and and "se" (it) for women. (20 April 2002)
Another example sees the pair reading books, while Wagner is sniffing annoyingly. Viivi tells him to blow his nose; which he does straight into his hands. He then complains because he can't turn the pages. (26 April 2002)
I have been reliably informed that there is a stage play of Viivi and Wagner in rehearsal as of August
2002. Produced by Hannu Raatikainen, first indications are that it may not quite live up to the cartoon format which inspired it.
Viivi ja Wagner can be read (at the time of writing) at:
Thanks to vuo and break for comments.