COMIC STRIPS IN CROATIA --- 60TH ANNIVERSARY
Zvonimir Tosic, 1995
Original article at: http://comics.cro.net/e-hrstr2.html
Dedicated to the all Croatian artists, and to the
all who fell in love with the comic strip art
The winds of war, understandably, did not bypass this talented
generation of comic strip creators either. Franjo Fuis lost his life in
1943 during a war operation, while the Neugebauer brothers temporarily
ceased working on comics and engaged in experimenting with cartoon movies.
Out of the entire 'first' generation of Croatian comis strip authors, only
its pioneer - Andrija Maurović - continued doing the ninth art.
"Povratak Starog Mačka", by Andrija Maurović
By the end of 1945, Maurović had already published his first
postwar strip, 'Mrtvački brod', in Novi Svijet
magazine. Glas Slavonije, an Osijek magazine, ran some works by one
of the future representatives of the 'second generation' - Borivoj
And that was almost all. Croatia did not have a single genuine strip
publication, publications of that sort being scarce in the whole of
Yugoslavia, which included Croatia, at the time.
Evil Spirits of War and Comunism ...
began their horror dance and very soon turned on comic strips, declaring
them an undesireable element. It seemed as though a definite end neared
for the ninth art. On January 5, 1946, the Belgrade Borba ran a
very unfavorable column about the reappearance of comics in our society.
Articles, laden with the similar connotations were soon published on the
pages of other magazines as well. In the postwar communist Yugoslavia,
comics were declared to be an undesireable phenomenon and were thus
blacklisted. Immediately following this, all existing publications
came to an end, while new comic features in certain magazines were
abruptly finished off with no special explanation.
A long and tough four-year pause ensued followed by a comic revival, at
fist very shy in youth magazine features, and somewhat later in specail
editions. Comics were reintroduced in Croatia during 1950, thanks to who
else but Andrija Maurović.
"The Mexican", by Andrija Maurović
|Right at the time when comics were
making their way back into Croatia's public life, a group of
authors centered around the Zagreb humor magazine on Kerempuh
|began their pioneer work making the
first longer cartoon movie in our country.They were lead by Walter
and Norbert Neugebauer, and included Borivoj Dovniković,
Vladimir Delač, Ismet Vojevica, and Oto Reisinger. Maurović
was tireless. He created 'Meksikanac' ('The Mexican',
based on a book by Jack London), as well as the historical comic
strip 'Opsada' ('The Siege'), and several western
stories. The first comic books began coming out, and Dovniković,
Čukli, and Delač were joined by another four
representatives of the 'second generation': Reisinger, Bednjanec,
Gotovac and the future titan of the Croatian comic strip - Jules
"The First Men on the Moon",
by Neugebauer brothers
|In 1952, the Zagreb news agency Vjesnik
started an entertainment magazine called Petko (several
months before that, it started Vjesnikov zabavni tjednik,
but this edition did not last very long on a market still fairly
unused to comics).
|Petko contained new episodes of 'Gladni
kralj' by the Neugebauer brothers, new creations of Vladimir
Delač, as well as Oto Reisinger's debut works.
The Neugebauers published, along with reruns of old creations from
Zabavnik, two strips in realistic style during 1953 - an
adaptation of Wels' novel 'The First Men on the Moon' and 'Roy
Thorn', a western. However, admist these domestic strip-sagas
there appeared an imported one, a real masterpiece of the ninth
Valiant' by Hal Foster. This popular hero of American comics
did not accidentaly wander into Petko, but rather as a
result of well-established taste and high strip-criteria.
But Petko was short-lived as well; it died after 18 months,
on December 31, 1953. It was succeeded by Miki strip, which
shared its sorry fate. The latter was extinguished in September of
On October 1, 1954, "Plavi
Amongst modern researchers and critics of the ninth art there is
no disagreement about the value of the popular Plavac - it
is esteemed by all as the most significant edition in the history
of Croatian comics.
For some, its greatest contribution lied in drawing together a
relatively large group of domestic authors and publishing about
180 of their complete works; for others, in an extraordinarily
well-established ratio between text and comic features.
Some declared the graphics and art of Plavi vjesnik its
greatest virtue (especially from mid-1950 on), while others
regarded its choice of superb foreign comics as being most
significant. Many bestowed the highest praise upon the educational
role of Plavi vjesnik, upon its excellent exchange columns
and reports; others pointed to its achievement in the development
of the ninth art, through numerous seminars for artists, as well
as great comic workshop.
by Jules Radilović
|The first issues were far from
heralding the brilliant career of Plavi vjesnik. At first
it was filled by sequels to comic strips from the aftermentioned Petko
and Miki strip. Gradually, Maurović and the Neugebauer
brothers, Dovniković and Jules Radilović (Radilović,
in co-operation with textwriter Zvonimir Furtinger, introduced the
great series 'Kroz minula stoljeća'). 1960 marked the
beginning of Plavi vjesnik's most brilliant period.
|In the next seven years this magazine
did not change its, by now already fully defined, graphics, while
new features added at various points kept it fresh and up-to-date.
Eventually, a group of authors came together that would make up
the very core of Croatian comics for years to come. Artists
working for 'Plavac' during this period include the
by Oto Reisinger
|Andrija Maurović, Walter
Neugebauer, Jules Radilović, Žarko Beker, Borivoj Dovniković,
Vladimir Delač, Oto Reisinger, Zdenko Svirčić,
Norbert Neugebauer, Marcel Čukli, Zvonimir Furtinger, Nenad
Brixy, Rudi Aljinović and Mladen Bjažić. By the end of
1966, this great bunch of authors published almost 130 complete
strip-stories in Plavi vjesnik.
... But Everything Comes to an End
|The moment which meant the beginning of
Plavi vjesnik's downward spiral is inextricably linked to
the disappearance of a brilliant generation of domestic authors,
along with three prewar bigshots, off the stage. By the end of
1969, it seemed as though no one was into making comics, save for
the Neugebauer brothers and Jules Radilović. Andrija Maurović
withdrew into solitude and ascetism for a number of years,
sticking to it until his death. Žarko Beker turned to graphic
design, Borivoj Dovniković to television cartoons, and Oto
Reisinger continued his caricature work. Vladimir Delač died
in the beginning of 1968; Svirčić and Bjažić left
comics for good, while Furtinger, Aljinović and Čukli
periodically went back to them. Out of the entire Plavi vjesnik
team, only one creator remained - Jules Radilović. A new
generation of creators was to emerge after some years.
During this "barren" period, the Croatian publishing
houses were preocupied with importing and publishing cheap foreign
comics, completely neglecting domestic creations. The departure of
the 'first' and almost entire 'second' generation left a void to
be filled only by new creators; investing into an uncertain
future, with dirt-cheap imported comics at hand, seemed like a
totally unjustifiable venture from the economic point of view.
"Novi kvadrat" (The "New Frame")
'Macchu Picchu', by Radovan Devlić
|In 1976, a group of young creators, who
would later make up the core of the "New Frame", joined
around the Polet magazine. Mirko Ilić, Ninoslav Kunc,
Radovan Devlić, Krešimir Zimonić, Emir Mešić,
Igor Kordej, Joško Marušić - all young men and neophythe
authors, they soon revealed their splendid talents.
|Their role models were something else
completely, and theirs creations very unique, each different from
the last and the next. The "New Frame" was a means, a
"pumpkin chariot", which enabled a group of very
expressive individuals to step into the comic strip limelight and
gave them all a chance to establish themselves and very strong,
self-conscious strip authors. Today, they're all esteemed strip
artists, illustrators, caricaturists, and artists.