It occurred to me that – as the Junk Shop’s sole regular contributor who lives in Europe, Croatia to be precise – I should perhaps post stuff about local events more often than I do. And quite recently, there has been an interesting burst of activity on the comics scene, as a new anthology magazine just rolled off of the presses about two weeks ago. It’s called Strop, which means ‘ceiling’ (and I think it’s also intended to be a play on words, as the Croatian word for comics is ‘strip‘ – both for newspaper strips and longer-form comic books/albums). The format is smaller than the standard magazine/comic book, i.e., 6.5″ x ca. 9.4″ (or ca. 16.5 cm x 23.5 cm).
There’s a quite a bit of top-notch talent represented between its covers, including a few names that should be familiar to American comics fans. There are four stories, and the first three are installments in ongoing features. Here’s a brief rundown:
First up is “Zagrebljuje,” written by Krešimir Biuk and drawn by Dalibor Talajić. As the first part of the title indicates, it’s set in Zagreb and introduces its main character, a down-and-out middle-aged guy who periodically gets nauseous and throws up explosively, which is what the second part of the title is all about, as it’s derived from the verb ‘bljuvati‘ – to vomit. (The whole title, by the way is also adapted from – and playfully mocks – Zagrebulje, the title of a series of popular newspaper columns written in the late 19th century by August Šenoa, probably the most famous and respected Croatian writer of that period.)
The second feature, “Hajduk živi vječno” (‘Hajduk Lives Forever’), written and drawn by Stipe Kalajžić, is set in the coastal city of Split in 1911, the year when the beloved local soccer team, Hajduk, was founded. It follows the misadventures of a group of small children who find a way to avoid the crowd and find a perfect spot to watch a big important game.
The third feature, “Strip o stripu” (‘A Comic About Comics’), written and drawn by Darko Macan, is a sort of humorous meta-commentary about the creative process in comics, with three different versions of Macan in rather contentious dialog with each other and occasional guests who pop in for a panel or two, like, say, Scott McCloud:
The final feature, “Sajla” (‘Cable’), written and drawn by Ive Svorcina, is a one-off, rather dark and tragic underworld tale. Svorcina may be familiar to some US comics fans as a colorist, but he’s really a damn good all-around artist in his own right.
I should note that it’s not being distributed at newspaper kiosks and comic book shops, which is otherwise the case for comics here. Rather, you have to pay for it (35 Croatian kuna, or a little more than $5.50) directly to Darko Macan’s account, and he mails it to you. I only found out about it because Talajić and Macan were posting about it on Facebook for a few weeks ahead of time. Hopefully this model will work for them and the magazine will have a long life.
To close off, here’s a detail of the back cover illustration by Svorcina.