by Ivanka Apostolova (Ivankaa@yahoo.com)

Basic Characteristics of the Situation of Macedonian comics:
1. A comics scene without continuity or a stable public.
2. Comics publications of short existence. (There used to be two: Makstrip and Klik; now there’s only Lift which is published once or twice a year.)
3. Resignation, no motivation and stimulation from the authors, publishers, promoters, distributors…
4. Having no finances; but money is not always the real reason - among other things, there are foreign foundations, which are a good source for cash.
5. Lack of initiative that would bring some life and dynamics into the Macedonian comics scene.
6. Hiding and manipulation of information about contacts and cooperation.
7. Or even if there is one “fool” who will openly spread the information, the authors do not react, do not respect and do not make use of the information. They probably regard such openness as strange and suspicious.
8. A lack of women cartoonists
9. A lack of a comics public
10. Macedonian comics are in the margins of the domestic scene; and practically nonexistent for most of the world comics public.

The year 2000/2001 finally brought the realization of the idea for the first group comics exhibition - a retrospective and presentation of modern Macedonian comics from the 90-ties. The exhibition was organized by Templum as part of the project “Disseminating the margins/comics in Lift”. Most of the active comic artists of the 90-ties were included. The travelling exhibition was set in the galleries in several towns in Macedonia: Strumica, Bitola, Prilep...; in Skopje at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and it will continue to Zagreb and Belgrade.

Finally, Templum created the first and for now the only web site open to all people interested in finding out more about Macedonian cartoonists: www.templum.com.mk/lift

This comics exhibition is important because... it just might represent the beginning of a new phase for Macedonian comics in the sense of existence and affirmation of comic identities with sense and quality. The commercial and alternative comics share the same problem - they are under the same shadow.
But the selection of comics is a good one and a diverse one. The most gratifying moment came from the public which showed that it could exist and paid flattering attention to the exhibition. So, yet there is hope. Despite the prospect of civil war hanging over our heads.

About the comic artists:

Yes, the comics are one of the most democratic media, they do not tolerate censorship. And when the authors resort to self-censorship, that is either a question of choice or the reality of a certain intellectual level.

Hence what is the problem of narration or lack of contents?

That problem is present with authors who ignore or are unable to notice their own life fragments. All of the time something is happening to us - or nothing is happening – and these are situations for contemplation and action. They carry the material for comics.

The authors themselves set their own comics relations, some of them have comic albums or work with foreign publications; Zlatko Krstevski organizes the mail comics festival in Prilep  and the "Cool strip art anthology", Igor Toshevski draws story broads in Hollywood – he was launched by Milcho Manchevski, Stankovski works with video film and animations...

...Aleksandar Sotirovski, Marjan Kamilovski, Ljupcho Jovanov and Zoran Tanev are excellent draftsmen and classical storytellers; Aleksandar is elastic, Marjan is lyrical with water colors, Ljupcho thinks in silhouettes and shadows, while Zoran is under the influence of Enki Bilal. They make documentary comics, stereotypical SF, they make films and drama out of cartoons and are representatives of a commercial style of expression.

This group also includes Toni Peshev who’s art is lucid and grotesque. Atanas Botev is a strict perfectionist; they both tell stories in a bizarre and comical way. Smile Cvetanovski is imaginative and inspirational; Ljubomir Stefanov and his mute and poetic comics where one meditates from naked women with small breasts to the metaphysics of fruit and vegetables. I must not forget the sterile computer comics artist from the team: Sekulovski. Then there’s Micho from Bitola, with his Alan Ford style, whose characters talk in the Bitola dialect. Gradually we get to the representatives of the alternative comics: Aleksandar Stankovski, who together with Pandalf Vulkanski works on the marathon comic strip “Labris”, is fantastic with his heavy libido and the conflicting phallic comic constructions and political reactions. Igor Toshevski is a comic mutant from the classical modern comics and the “make-up” of the underground expression. Goran Dachev is the best cartoon transformer - graphic artist, his drawing in black and white is so full-blooded that it seems colorful. Highly witty cartoons collage artists: Sinisha Cvetkovski and Miroslav Stojanovikj – lavish and intelligent. Kircho Arsovski is brutal and sarcastic, impudent and courageously primitive. Mile Nichevski is depressive, vulgar and indifferent. Psilo and Ventolina are cartoon virgins; novices in this gang bang of cartoonists. Zlatko Krstevski is flexible and experiments. And for Ivanka Apostolova it has been said: that I am a female comic dadaist  (Lift); not communicative and mystical in the comics (Helena Klakochar); I make comic jewellery – I am a comic coquette!


the Lift magazine
Address: ul: Al. Martulkov 13, 1000 Skopje, Makedonija
Telephones: + 389 2 317 008 / 332 494
Editor-in-Chief: Nikola Gelevski

Ivanka Apostolova – a cartoonist and fine arts essayist
Address: ASNOM 20/2/28 – 1000 Skopje, Makedonija
Telephone: + 389 2 435 546