Saturday, June 16, 2012

YU Tarzan

In 1983, Swedish publisher Atlantic, who at that time was the copyright holder for the production of the Tarzan comics worldwide, being dissatisfied with the poor quality of the Spanish version of Tarzan (except for the episodes done by the gifted Jose Ortiz) handed the job over to the Yugoslav (Serbian) publisher  Marketprint.  A Team of comic artists and scenarists was soon formed and the work on so-called YU Tarzan comic series was launched under the leadership and supervision of the famous Serbian comic artist Bane Kerac. Between 1983 and 1989 the Tarzan team produced 1600 pages (100 episodes, each consisting of 16 pages) and some 500 drawings done for the covers and other promotional materials. The series was simultaneously published in Yugoslavia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, (West) Germany and the Netherlands.

In 1988, I joined the team and in the next couple of years did 4 episodes (64 pages + 3 cover drawings in total). Not much, but one has to take in consideration that I was an art student at that time (I was in my early twenties), still learning and developing my skills. I did my best to combine a few things, like studying, painting, drawing, illustrating and doing Tarzan and some other comics.   

Three of these episodes were published. Than in 1990, due to the unacceptable conditions that were presented to Marketprint  by the granddaughter of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who some time before that got the legacy on Tarzan copyrights, the contract was immediately canceled and my fourth Tarzan episode was never published.

A few months ago (more than 20 years later),  Dark Dragon Books from the Netherlands decided to publish a book that will include all of my Tarzan episodes, as well as a bonus section with some drawings and sketched that haven’t been published before. This will be a limited edition of 500 copies. Each copy will include a signed print. 

 These two pages are from my second episode, titled The Bride of King Bohun. I intentionally did it in the style of Harold Foster’s Prince Valiant.

Here you can see a page and a drawing from the third episode, titled Without Witness. This was the only comic of mine to be ever inked by another artist, Branko Plavsic. Branko Plavsic was the finest inker I have ever met. He sadly passed away a few months ago. Just before that he called me on the phone and asked me to make the photocopies of all the pages from the episode we did together. He inked many Tarzan episodes but said that this was his favorite one. Because of my extremely busy schedule I was not able to find time to make the copies of the original pages. Later on he even sent me en email to remind me of the copies. And just as I was about to make them, I heard that Branko Plavsic has died. I was shocked…Rest in peace my friend, and please forgive me, for I will never forgive myself…

This is a page from the last episode, titled The Illusionist, that I had to draw again because the original was missing. This is the only unpublished episode, and there was nothing to be scanned, so I had to draw it once again. It turned out to be a big challenge, especially the inking part, for I did not draw comics for the last 20 years and lost the touch for inking completely. It took me a whole week to do this page.

At the end I would like to share an anecdote – A few weeks ago, while attending the Spectrum Live show,  I met with Bill Stout, who at the beginning of his career was assisting Russ Manning when he was drawing Tarzan comics, and told him about my upcoming Tarzan book.

Bill enthusiastically asked: “Are you going to sell the book on the US market”?
I said: “ I would love to but I am afraid it’s not possible because  of a technical problem. You see, the text is in Dutch!

Bill replied: “Doesn’t matter, the drawings are in English…!”


  1. Knowing at what age you were capable of producing such incredible drawings is so humbling.

  2. It was unbelievable back then, and it`s unbelievable now...

  3. If you hadn't written anything about these, I'd have said they were early Frazetta -- that's how excellent they are.

  4. Fantastic work Petar! I am so proud that you are my fellow countryman (I am from Kragujevac - Serbia) :-). One question:
    Is there any chance that we in Serbia can see your reworked and unpublished episode "The Illusionist" in the upcoming books of collected YU Tarzan by publisher "Darkwood" from Belgrade? I am sure you are aware of that publication.
    Thank you for your answer in advance, and all best in your future works!

    P.S. Sorry for my (maybe) bad English.

    1. The previously unpublished episode “The illusionist” was supposed to be published in the June issue of Stripoteka. For some reason the editor decided to postponed the publication of this episode and told me that it is now scheduled to appear in Stripoteka in September. Whether the same episode will also be published in the Darkwood’s Tarzan collection I don’t know.

      By the way, your English is good!

      Thanks, Mikoza!