calvert journal / review

Calvert Journal / Review

“Komikaze: From stark punkish scribbles to garish psychedelia, the artwork inside the pages Croatian comic-strip magazine Komikaze offers up the very best of the south-eastern Europe’s underground scene — creating its own vibrant world where official art institutions often fall short.”


  • nice review of the Komikaze work in last 19 years by Jonathan Bousfield & Aleksandra Sekulić / Published: 24th November, 2020


calvert journal / review / part two: Tekst by curator Alexandra Sekulić on questions by Jonathan Bousfield. Tekst was the base for the review published at Calvert Journal.

What has been the impact of Komikaze in the wider world of ex-Yu comic production and the role of the alternative illustrator?

Coming from the experience of Kosmoplovci collective, my view on Komikaze impact and relevance might be a bit “privileged”, due to a very intensive, continious cooperation, and almost a family-like relation between those collectives, and later the community gathering around Novo doba festival, Matrijaršija, Fijuk sajam… The fanzines, publications, posters – the overall production of Komikaze has been always exciting, innovative, and also somewhat common, shared, that it is not possible to extrapolate some specific line of influence, it created a sense of belonging, again, a family-like center of activity deeply interconnected with the work, initiatives and production in our immediate environment here. If I try to observe the wider context of the so called “region”, usually used to describe the cultural space of the former Socialist Yugoslavia, Komikaze showed how the perception and outreach of the regional production can be enriched and intensified, how the editorial, publishing and artistic efforts they put in the production created new standard and pathways, opened the imagination and expectation, and most of all – a growing space of emancipation and freedom  for the upcoming experiments and made the “regional” cooperation a standard, not an exotic accident.

Have you noticed any changes in the subject matter of alternative strip in the last few years (more diversity for example? More projects like Femikomix?)

There would be probably many shiny examples of the emancipation, diversification, enrichment brought by Komikaze, but I would focus on their affirmation of feminist and emancipatory politics. Since I started reading alternative comics in 1990s, I was well aware of the female authors like Neda Dokić, Maja Veselinović in Serbia, and in such a diverse field like alternative culture in Serbia in 1990s, I never thought of the position of female authors to be burdained with necessity to make blunt statements on their critical, political, emancipatory prerogatives, I saw their contribution in their artistic experiments and their very choice of the battlefield (it is funny to use that term for alternative comics, but in past month in Belgrade it literally turned into one, when the right wing hooligans tore down, in a cloud of tear gass in a gallery, a whole exhibition of Novo doba festival) . The works of Dunja Janković and Ivana Armanini encouraged  different modes and approaches, subtle or manifest engagement, making  subversive potential of their work burst in various directions. The narrative experiments, or the interventions into the visual perception of sequences and its inertia, all through the open political engagement and critique, there is no doubt they introduced new resources to work with and inspired many to come.

Is there any continuity between the alternative comic culture of today and the huge strip culture of SFRJ?

I see a strong continuity, but mostly through the alternative culture in SFRY. Alternative comics scene which I was introduced to in 1990s developed from the fanzine culture in 1980s, and alternatve culture infrastructure – its manifestations, youth centers, communities gathered around music, film, literature… That is how the cooperation and networks created during that time survived the war. The first “regional”  festival I attended in Belgrade was XER in Cinema Rex in 1998, alternative comics festival organized by Radovan Popović, at the time editor of Striper magazine. Later, GRRR! festival organized by Saša Rakezić Zograf gathered the regional scene in 2000s, and we have Novo Doba festival last ten years. My perception of alternative comics is therefore almost conditioned by the “regional” context, since it comes from the field which was described by Aldo Milohnić as radical amateurism in SFRY, a dynamic field of experimental, alternative artistic production which developed outside of the conventional, academic or professional cultural infrastructure, but made a significant impact. The alternative comics also share the communities of artists, readers, manifestations throughout these countries, which I think makes this continuity a long term threat to the reductive concepts such as nationalist imaginary “pure” culture of “clean” origin. Komikaze are the best example of defying imaginary limitations.