Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Flashback 3

Start of the Art career

“In (his book/drama) Faust Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 – 1832) provides a Prelude on the stage in which the manager who is responsible for the finances talks with a poet-playwright  and  ‘a cheerful person’:  one who is going to be in the audience  and wants a good evening’s entertainment. Three perspectives are developed: theatre (illustration art) as a business; writing (illustrating/painting) as the creation of the ideal; and plays (illustrated books/illustrations/paintings) as a form of entertainment. These characters dispute among themselves without reaching any resolution. They have divergent aspirations that, somehow, have to be contained in a single work. If the play is to succeed it has to turn a profit, has to be enjoyable and (or) stimulating, and yet has to be a vehicle for the more noble ambitions of the poet (artist/illustrator) …” *
When I started my career back in 1981, I was just a boy who did not even dream of the existence of  such questions and dilemmas, let alone to let them resonate in my artistic pursuits. I was a simple, common and relatively shallow teenager (shallowness being one of the trademarks of youth), whose life consisted of going to school, drawing comics, playing football with friends, going after the girls and drinking Coca-Cola.  Such philosophical questions, as those above, had not yet dawned on my Art horizon. The only concerns I had at that time in connection to art, were how to draw things as good and as convincing as possible. The problems of anatomy, proportions, composition, inking, the  balance between black and white; these were the things that caused my headaches.

Detail from unpublished comic

Nowadays the things are different – the questions that penetrate deeper into the art flesh and tend to come closer to the essence and the purpose of art making, are preoccupying me lately and causing a new sorts of headaches.  I know I am not the only one out there who struggles trying to find the balance between those opposing demands within the “business” of Art, especially the illustration art,  as presented in the Prelude to the Goethe’s play. I find this particular dilemma being quite crucial these days, having in mind the current aspirations of the modern (western) neo-liberal, turbo-speedy consumption, profit-leisure seeking society – wherein the instant-fast living-special effects attitude towards Life seem to be prevailing above the time-consuming, hard to reach, noble ideals of the past.
The absence of these kind of heavy thoughts,  and the simplicity of my artistic aspirations, made my life as a fledgling artist clarifying and light, giving the youth’s enthusiasm, joy and elation the free hand.
However, in the eighties Yugoslavia was a kind of “in-between” country. Although geographically and culturally a part of the East Europe, the Balkans, it did not belong to the Eastern Bloc Countries. It was also not a part of the Western Bloc either, but rather an independent country that had connections with both sides, and that was ruled by Tito and the communist party. It had a strong social attitudes, where the individual, the worker,( for it was a land of the proletariat),  was well protected in terms of the social care, education and job. It was generally speaking a safe country (I never had to lock my bike when leaving it on the street, and the door of our house was almost never locked either). All in all, you had a reasonably good life as long as you did not oppose the political system. In this atmosphere of relative freedom, the Art and culture prospered.


Pictures from unpublished comic '90 / '91

The eighties also marked the golden age of the Yugoslav comics. During that period many talented comic artist emerged and matured. After Yugoslavia fell apart in a bloody civil war at the beginning of the nineties, many of these exceptional artists left the country, settled themselves elsewhere and gradually started to work for major European and US comic publishers. More about them in a future post.
A healthy and reliable podium for emerging talent was offered by a few big Yugoslav publishing companies.  One of the best, the most vital and enduring of all was Marketprint, from Novi Sad. Their most famous comic magazine was, and still is, Stripoteka.  The best European and US comics, as well as the comics made by Yugoslav artists, where published in this legendary comic magazine.


As far as I am concerned, my career officially started on June 9, 1981, when the first three strips of my comic series named Krampi was published in Stripoteka, issue 654. This was a marvelous achievement for a boy of less than 16 years of age. My little comic series was being published within the greatest comic magazine in the country, and along with the comics of the legendary US and European comic creators. When that issue of Stripoteka was published,  I was in the seventh heaven! It was as important to me, as the great Goethe’s Faust was important to the Western culture.

Stripoteka, issue 654 - June 9, 1981

For the next 10 years I published a number of short comics, as well in Stripoteka as in the other Marketprint’s comic magazines.


Krampi, the first three strips, 1981

Krampi '81 / '82

Kreker Kid, 1982

Čuvar Istine (Guardian of the Truth), my
first comic drawn in the realistic stile,1983

'84

'84

'84

Esmeralda, 1986

Esmeralda, '86

Esmeralda, '86

Esmeralda, '86

In 1983 Marketprint obtained the rights to produce the licensed Tarzan comic books, that have been previously done by the Spanish. The team of artists and scenario writers was formed that would, in the next 7 years, produce more than 1600 comic pages, about 100 episodes – 16 pages each. In the mid-eighties I too became a member of the Marketprint Tarzan team. Because I studied painting at the Art academy at that time, I had to divide my time between my studies and drawing comics. Therefore I produced only 4 episodes (64 pages and a few cover illustrations).

'88

'86 / '87


'88

'88

'88

'88

'89

'89

'90

'90

In 1991 I started to work on my firs, and the last, full size comic book, Kanoo. The synopsis of the story was written by Sergio Aragones, and I drew the comic for SAF publishing house and agency from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Due to the already mentioned civil war, I did not finish this comic book until 1992, after my arrival to the Netherlands. It contains 44 pages and it has never been published. Kanoo was the last comic I did. After its completion I decided to abandon comic art and to further express my creative urges through illustration and painting. So it happened that, in 1992 one circle had been closed, and the new one had begun.







Pages from Kanoo, '91 / '92


* From the book Love, Life, Goethe – Lessons of the imagination from the Great German Poet, by John Armstrong; except for the inserted words in brackets.

21 comments:

  1. Cool Stuff Petar. I enjoyed looking through the comic pages. I'm starting to gain interest in creating my own web comic and this has been an inspiration. Thanks!

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  2. It is wonderful to read of your life as an artist. To know that you have taken step after step into the depths and edges of exploring what is possible for you. Congratulations on making some of your dreams come true.

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  3. I love your line work! Your hatching for your close up panels are wonderful. Truly an inspiration. I think your work on Tarzan gives Burne Hogarth a run for his money.

    Wonderful!

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  4. Wow ... I think the biggest question I have now is how did you get from the comic style, all heavy-hitting action poses, angles, and shading, to the classical look you have now in your paintings? Was it a major turn-around, or did it happen gradually?

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  5. Kessie – It did happen gradually. This change had to do a lot with the artists and the kind of art I was inspired by along the way. After all, I believe if there is something within you, it will come out to the surface, sooner or later. You just have to listen, work and nurture it.
    Thanks, guys!

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  6. Funny...you stopped your comics in 1992...I was born in 1992...now I'm in college, studying to become a 3D digital animator.

    Fancy that.

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  7. Odlična retrospektiva! Šteta za ove neobjavljene stripove i album "Kanoo" jer su ovo prelijepe table. Ima li šanse da se to ipak nekad objavi?
    Ukoliko se ja dobro sjećam jer bio sam osnovac sredinom osamdesetih kada su sarajevske "Male novine" raspisale konkurs za strip, a kasnije u jednom dodatku objavili nagrađene stripove. Znam da si ti dobio jednu od nagrada, možda i prvu jer mi se taj strip najviše svidio pa sam zapamtio ime. Čak mi se čini da je glavni junak bio plavokos :) Imaš li možda neku od tih tabli da okačiš?

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  8. These insights into your artistic development are truly fascinating.

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  9. Vau!Kanoo stvarno prelijepo izgleda.
    Zašto nije objavljen?
    jaki

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  10. Pedja – zaista imas dobro pamcenje. U pitanju je bila druga nagrada, a glavni junak stripa je zaista bio plavokos.
    Sto se Kanoo-a tice – male su sanse da bude objavljen, a sta je razlog njegovog neobjavljivanja? – Nazalost, gradjanski rat!
    Hvala na komentaru, Pedja i Jaki!

    The reason Kanoo was not published was the civil war in Former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, there is not much chance for Kanoo to be published now.
    Thanks for your comment!

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  11. Hvala i drago mi je da me memorija služi ;)

    Pa šteta za Kanua. Znam da je rat glavni krivac, ali kontam kad je strip već završen zašto se ne bi sada objavio... Ne znam kakva je radnja stripa, pa možda zbog same priče menadžer misli da Kanoo nema komercijalni efekat kao što bi imao da je objavljen devedesetih, ali ove tvoje table su pravi odmor za oči. Tvoj crtež je garant za dobru prodaju!

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  12. Amazing post, Thank you for presenting a wide variety of information that is very interesting to see in this artikle


    tour karimunjawa
    and jual furniture
    or jepara furniture
    and tenun troso
    Up tenun sutra

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