What was the golden age of Serbian comic art like? Could you name a few illustrators or editions?
Serbian comics have had several ‘golden eras.’ What is considered to be The Golden Age is the period between the early 1930s and the German occupation of Serbia in World War II, and the post war period until the end of the 1950s. Post-war art directly continued the 1930s ‘Belgrade circle’ direction in style, subject matter, and genre. It was on the pages of Veseli cetvrtak that Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse appeared for the first time; the title was "Dozivljaji Mike Misa" ("The Life of Mika the Mouse") but re-produced by Serbian authors: artist Ivan Sensin and writer Bozidar Kovacevic.
One of the most important events in the history of Serbian and Yugoslav comics happened on 21 October 1934 on the pages of Politika. On that day one whole page was devoted to a strip-cartoon (six strips of it) which had ended only a month before in USA; it was "Detektiv X-9" ("Secret Agent X-9") produced by Alexander Raymond and Dashiell Hammett. The publishing of this work created a real sensation. It was a novelty of such magnitude that a new name had to be invented for the phenomenon. One of the editors of Politika, a man called Duda Timotijević, looked at the original, English term "comic strip", and decided to adopt just the second half of it in Serbian – strip. That opened space for adventure comics in Serbia like Vlasta Belkić’s "Avanture detektiva Hari Vilsa" ("Adventures of the detective Harry Wils" inspired by Raymond/Hammett comics.
After that came a time when revolutionary topics were the norm. The late 1960s saw a new surge in Serbian comics, both in authorship and production. A new golden era happened between the late 1970s and the mid 1980s, while another renaissance began before our very eyes in the first decade of the 21st century.
What is the contemporary field of comics like in Serbia?
Comic art in Serbia today is stronger and more vibrant than it has been in nearly two decades. In terms of authorship its quality is higher than ever before. The number of publishers and publications has grown in the past five years, and several art academies in the country have young students completing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with comic art graduation works, or papers in comic art theory. The Ministry [of Education] has approved an official textbook as accompanying literature in art media studies, and comics have entered the elementary school curriculum.
Since the beginning of this century, System Comics has become the chronicler and witness of events related to comic art in Serbia, not only as a leading publisher, but as a permanent member of the Belgrade Comics Salon, organiser of the many promotions, exhibitions and Comics gatherings in Serbia and region. In cooperation with numerous domestic authors, many works have seen the light of the day – “Technotise“,“Darkness“, „Aaron“, „Astroiđani“, „Vekovnici“, „Clique Dardaneli“, „Deep and Cold“, „Murders Like You and Me“, „Bernard Panasonik“ etc. by authors such as: Aleksa Gajić, Zoran Janjetov, Rajko Milošević Gera, Željko Pahek, Darko Perović, Pavle Zelić, Dragan Paunović, Marko Stojanović, Bojan Redžić, Bojan Kovačević, Tihomir Čelanović, Vladimir Aleksić, Milorad Vicanović Maza, Srđan Nikolić Peka, Radomir Izgarević and many others.