Friday, June 15, 2012

YU Tarzan

-By Petar Meseldzija

In 1983, Swedish publisher Atlantic, who at that time was the copyright holder for the production of the Tarzan comics worldwide, being dissatisfied with the poor quality of the Spanish version of Tarzan (except for the episodes done by the gifted Jose Ortiz) handed the job over to the Yugoslav (Serbian) publisher  Marketprint.  A Team of comic artists and scenarists was soon formed and the work on so-called YU Tarzan comic series was launched under the leadership and supervision of the famous Serbian comic artist Bane Kerac. Between 1983 and 1989 the Tarzan team produced 1600 pages (100 episodes, each consisting of 16 pages) and some 500 drawings done for the covers and other promotional materials. The series was simultaneously published in Yugoslavia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, (West) Germany and the Netherlands.
In 1988, I joined the team and in the next couple of years did 4 episodes (64 pages + 3 cover drawings in total). Not much, but one has to take in consideration that I was an art student at that time (I was in my early twenties), still learning and developing my skills. I did my best to combine a few things, like studying, painting, drawing, illustrating and doing Tarzan and some other comics.   
Three of these episodes were published. Than in 1990, due to the unacceptable conditions that were presented to Marketprint  by the granddaughter of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who some time before that got the legacy on Tarzan copyrights, the contract was immediately canceled and my fourth Tarzan episode was never published.
A few months ago (more than 20 years later), Dark Dragon Books from the Netherlands decided to publish a book that will include all of my Tarzan episodes, as well as a bonus section with some drawings and sketched that haven’t been published before. This will be a limited edition of 500 copies. Each copy will include a signed print. 

These two pages are from my second episode, titled The Bride of King Bohun. I intentionally did it in the style of Harold Foster’s Prince Valiant.

Here you can see a page and a drawing from the third episode, titled Without Witness. This was the only comic of mine to be ever inked by another artist, Branko Plavsic. Branko Plavsic was the finest inker I have ever met. He sadly passed away a few months ago. Just before that he called me on the phone and asked me to make the photocopies of all the pages from the episode we did together. He inked many Tarzan episodes but said that this was his favorite one. Because of my extremely busy schedule I was not able to find time to make the copies of the original pages. Later on he even sent me en email to remind me of the copies. And just as I was about to make them, I heard that Branko Plavsic has died. I was shocked…Rest in peace my friend, and please forgive me, for I will never forgive myself…

This is a page from the last episode, titled The Illusionist,  that I had to draw again because the original was missing. This is the only unpublished episode, and there was nothing to be scanned, so I had to draw it once again. It turned out to be a big challenge, especially the inking part, for I did not draw comics for the last 20 years and lost the touch for inking completely. It took me a whole week to do this page.

At the end I would like to share an anecdote – A few weeks ago, while attending the Spectrum Live show, I met with Bill Stout, who at the beginning of his career was assisting Russ Manning when he was drawing Tarzan comics, and told him about my upcoming Tarzan book.

Bill enthusiastically asked: “Are you going to sell the book on the US market”?
I said: “ I would love to but I am afraid it’s not possible because of a technical problem. You see, the text is in Dutch!
Bill replied: “Doesn’t matter, the drawings are in English…!”


  1. As always, absolutely wonderful work, you are one of my favorites!

  2. This is very exciting Petar. It will be so wonderful that they'll release an English version.

    And wonderful stuff like that seemed to roll out of Bill Stout's mouth when I met him.

    1. Bill Stout is a very lucid and inspiring guy, and he is a treasure when it comes to the knowledge and the experience in dealing with clients and projects.

  3. 25 years ago, today, doesn't matter; Petar's work puts everyone to shame! You are the greatest!

  4. This is great. I love this blog! Thanks, guys.

  5. Wonderful! Thank you for posting!
    I've always wondered though, if you scale down larger original sketches or if
    you sketch in the comic book format to begin with? Thanks again, best blog evah!

    1. Per, I usually didn’t make the preliminary drawings for my comics and certainly not the larger sketches. Most of the time I just drew directly in the comic book format, and when the pencil work was satisfactory I inked it. That is how you were supposed to draw comics before computers. I know guys who still do it in this “old-fashioned” way.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I fear that because of the limited print run, I may not get my hands on it. This is tremendous work, and will look for the book.

    On Bill's remark, I whole hardedly agree. I love Bill, a fantastic artist, and all around good guy.

    1. Jason, if you really want to have a copy of this book, I suggest you to contact the publisher in September.

  7. Too good to be true.
    Love those comics layout.

  8. The drawing style is powerfull. The muscles and the expressions of the characters and monkeys are so reaslistic and detailled, i'm impressed. Great work !
    dessiner un portrait

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