Friday, 28 February 2014

From Lupus to Mr. Foxx

Drawing and publishing gag cartoons under the Communist regime

Back in the high school, in the early 70's, I published a single-copy cartoon magazine I named "Pink". I drew and wrote it all by hand (that was even before the Xerox era). Obviously, I was inspired by the immensely popular animated cartoon of that era: Pink Panther. However, all the characters and the jokes were my original ideas.
The fellow students loved my first publishing attempts. I changed the name of the comic first to "Bourp" and then to "Lupus". The mono copies were cruising from hand to hand. Years later I drew the comic book "Vuchko and friends" and tried to publish it in the youth's magazine, Omladinski tjednik ("Youth weekly" - the Alliance of Socialist Youth) where I had published some cartoon panels before. However, in those sensitive political times under Tito's Communist regime, some of my cartoons hit the wrong cord and I was expelled and banned from the public press. The main reason for firing me was that "I couldn't draw" (a rather ridiculous claim, because I became a rather accomplished illustrator early in my life), which the board of editors unanimously confirmed. Now that I remember the times, I get the chills, because I was so naive and I could have gotten into a serious trouble. The people ended up in prison for just saying something wrong in the wrong place. I knew people who ended up in Tito's gulag. Some 20.000 to 60.000 (nobody knows the exact number), of mostly innocent people served time and hard labour on Goli otok (the Naked island). Work in the quarry, malnutrition and torture were the daily routine there. Many have died. Of course, it wasn't the only prison, but it was specialised for political crimes, like the notorious, dreaded: "verbalni delikt" (the spoken words crime, or the "big mouth" crime). Oh, "the good old times"....
O.K. so I got it easy, but my cartoonist career was stalled for years.
Decades later, after the fall and disintegration of Yugoslavia, I invented a comic strip with the  fox as a main character: Fox, Cat&Rat to be published online. Here is the second version introduction image: