to the all Croatian artists, and to the all who fell in love with the comic
|n May 12,
1935, in the Zagreb daily Novosti, the first strips of Maurović's
comic strip 'Vjerenica mača' (Bride of the Sword) appeared.
Based on a novel by Paul Fevale, its scenario was prepared by Krešo
... from 'Vjerenica mača'
With this, his first lenghtier work (up to now he drew cartoons
for Koprive magazine, which mainly passed unnoticeably),
Andrija Maurović introduced a talent of some sort and power of an
artist with great potential.
Immediately noticeable are the chief traits of Maurović's drawings,
which were, by dint of their uniqueness and recognizability, to
make him famous throughout the world: sharp contours, perfect mastery
of black-and-white contrasting, extraordinary visual, almost cinemastic,
dynamics. These qualities were part of his later works as well and
enabled him to develop his own comic strip language - the supreme
goal desired by all, but attainable only for the greatest creators
of the ninth art.
... and then came the real beginning
|As soon as 'Vjerenica mača' came to
an end, Maurović ran 'Podzemna carica' ('Empress of the
Netherworld') in the Novosti, based on a novel by Alexey
Tolstoi, adapted by Krešo Kovačić. Maurović didn't terminate his work
for this Zagreb daily up until World War II.
|His comics - 'Trojica u mraku', ('Three
Men in the Dark'), 'Sedma žrtva' ('The Seventh Victim'),
'Gospodar zlatnih brijegova' ('Master of the Golden Hills'),
and 'Sablast zelenih močvara' ('Ghost of the Green Swamps')
were justifiably proclaimed as the greatest realizations in his entire
opus and works whose significance extends far beyond Croatian limits.
... from 'Ghost of the Green Swamps',
But, if the appearance of Maurović's 'Vjerenica mača' meant
the beginning for the creation of Croatian comics, the appearance
of the first issue of Oko, an illustrated entertainment weekly
(July 6, 1936) was news of sorts for the publishing practice of
the day - comic strips thus definitely stepped onto Croatian
very beginning, this weekly widely opened its pages to the still
scarce domestic authors, which enabled a young tandem, Walter and
Norbert Neugebauer, to publish their debut work. Still, Maurović
played the largest part, simultaneously drawing for Oko and
Novosti. Thanks to such drive, by the end of 1937 he had
realized ten complete stories in Oko, with scenario done by the
excellent journalist Franjo Fuis, along with Krešo Kovačić.
During its five years of continuous publication, Oko introduced
its readers to a large number of foreign comic strips. Because those
were the "golden years" of the American comic strip American strip
production absolutely dominated the world market. Therefore, the
editors of this paper understandably strived to secure as many works
by American authors as possible. Thus, for the first time in Croatia,
the following saw the light of day: Brick Bradford, by Clarence
Gray, Secret Agent X-9 in Charles Flanders' version, Bim
and Bum by Harold Knerr, Tim Taylor's by Lyman Young,
by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.
In the latter half of 1939, Oko fell into a serious financial crisis,
which didn't pass other comics of this period by, either. In search
of saving grace, the paper merged with its competitor weekly, Mickey
strip, and managed to survive another year under a new name.
|Meanwhile, Maurović and Fuis had started thier
own paper (beginning of March 1938), the above mentioned Mickey
strip. Here Maurović introduced his new works, as well as reprints
of the old and sought-after ones, the brothers Neugebauer appeared
with their new works, and some young authors as well (Ferdo Bis, Zdravko
Sulić). Nevertheless, Mickey strip died in 1939, only to resurrect
sometime later, merging with the Oko weekly.
Norbert and Walter Neugebauer,
Veseli vandrokaš, 1939.
For young authors, these were challenging times. The Neugebauer
brothers started an independent paper, Veseli Vandrokaš,
on October 5, 1938. Although prepared with much youthful vigor and
enthusiasm (Walter was 17 years old at the time), this paper didn't
fully fit the description of a real strip edition - therefore it
was extinguished very soon, after coming out for a mere 18 months.
After the merging of the two Zagreb papers, Mickey strip
and Oko on October 6, 1939, a weekly by the name Mickey
strip - Oko began its career.
But fate didn't favor this attempt either. Regardless of a nice anay of comics, this paper didn't manage
to overcome the same material hardships faced by its predecessors. After only 30 issues, it
was no longer being published ... Europe was already destroyed by World War II.
In the middle of 1943, the Neugebauer
brothers managed to start a weekly by the name of Zabavnik. This exceptionally
interesting edition was being published for a full two years, displaying on its pages a
whole line of quality comics, including some real masterpieces of the ninth art. Entering
their most fertile phase, Walter and Norbert created works of unmatched value ('Patuljak
Nosko', 'Gladni kralj', Mali Muk'), revealing thereby all their splendid talents. Their
work represent the peak of humorous comics, which no one in the world, save for
Disney, could show for themselves at the time. While
Walter and Norbert were reaching their peaks with funnies, Maurović created for
Zabavnik extraordinary stories of the adventure-realistic genre: 'Seoba Hrvata'
('Knez Radoslav'), 'Ahuramazda na Nilu', 'Grob u Prašumi', and 'Tomislav'.
Issue 102 of May 1945 marked the end of the Neugebauer brothers'
Zabavnik, thus closing a stormy chapter in the development
of Croatian comics. And even though a mere decade had passed since
Maurović's 'Vjerenica mača', this generation of young and
talented authors (later named "the first generation") managed to
establish a very firm foundation on which the comic strip in Croatia
was to build an even brighter future in the postwar period.
In a relatively short timespan, several valuable editions came
out, and certain works by Andrija Maurović and the Neugebauer brothers
are justifiably counted among the greatest realizations in the entire
pre-war history of the world comic strip.