Author: Vuk Perović
Date: 03 October 2010
The 4th annual comic book festival in Herceg Novi, a coastal resort in Boka Kotorska Bay in Montenegro proved that in Southeast Europe there is still substantial interest in the ninth art, as it is called. The 1970s and 1980s were the golden age of comics in the former Yugoslavia. The industry was in full bloom, with a number of widely-available and diverse publications including magazines, single editions, and albums, ranging from mainstream Marvel and DC Comics superhero editions to Italy's celebrated Max Bunker or Sergio Bonelli.
The Herceg Novi Comics Festival was started by Nikola Čurčin, a graphic designer and comics fan, a man who simply is in love with the art. The festival is fuelled entirely by local enthusiasm. A number of well-known comic book artists from the region, who are employed with major publishers, have participated in this event in Montenegro.
"The hardest thing was getting guests to come to the festival,'' Nikola Čurčin told South East Europe: People and Culture. "It’s a new festival, one that they had never heard of, so they weren't sure. A fortunate circumstance is that the festival is held next to the sea and at the start of September, when the weather is good!"
Nice weather aside, the most important thing for a festival is usually the guests. During the four years that the festival has existed, it has hosted the likes of Igor Kordej, a Croatian comic book artist currently employed with DC Comics and Marvel, who worked on Tarzan, and Serbian comic book artist Zoran Janjetov, who drew comics in France.
Aleksa Gajic’s "Edit and I"
"It helped me a lot that Igor Kordej agreed to come to the festival, in spite of all his obligations, because being the festival's best known artist this year, he encouraged the other guests to come," Čurčin says.
This year's star was Serbian comic book artist and animator Aleksa Gajić. His works were exhibited along with "Edit and I", an animated science fiction movie. Gajić also took part in the festival's most fun part, a "comics duel" with Čurčin, as the challenger. The duellists “clash” in front of the audience – each of them alternately drawing one scene. All the glory goes to the one who does his share faster and finds more support in the public than his rival. In honour of the festival’s spirit, however, it is not that important who wins. Čurčin says that what is important is that the competitors, unlike boxers, come out of this match unharmed.
"The number of visitors has been growing each year," Čurčin says. "We were happy with the number this year. It was a great pleasure to learn that visitors also came from abroad, mostly the UK, solely for the purpose of seeing the festival."
Next year’s edition should include such well-known names like Irena Jukić-Pranjić, the author of "Women's Comics in the Balkans," and Nina Bunjevac from Toronto.