The Forging of Mickey Mouse: Following the Trail of Contact between the American and the pre/post/Yugoslav Comic

From today’s perspective the fact that in the SFRY comics were published (and read!) in millions of copies seems almost unbelievable. However, this is not by chance but a continuity of a practice that began in the 1930s, when the first comics were published in former Yugoslavia. The influence of American comics was so strong that even the name “the ninth art” was taken, albeit somewhat abbreviated. In many cases, heroes were domesticated and adapted to the new environment.

This is also the starting point of the mapping which then spans a wide period of time extending to the present day. Within it was the field of commercial comics (those translated and printed under license, as well as those created by “Balkanization”) and the underground or alternative comics, as well as the wider field of popular culture (amateur and other forms of interpretation of content that stemmed from these comics). Through the themes of comics, we problematize the relationship between a dominant and marginal culture. We notice that it is not a one-way process (from dominant culture to marginal, as would be expected), but an exchange. These influences are not unambiguous, but often reversible. Domestic alternative comic book authors, for example, those whose transformative creative experience is represented by the discovery of American underground comics, over the years establish transnational connections with American authors, publishers, and audiences. They are published in the United States, and their works then follow complex distribution, circulation, and reception pathways.

Presentation and Discussion

Taking part in the discussion:
Marija Samardžić, Zoran Đukanović, Aleksandar Zograf, Danilo Milošev Wostok, Aleksandra Sekulić, Ana Miljanić, Ljubica Slavković, Branislav Dimitrijević


  • 1932 - 1939 -

    The publication of the first Disney comic strip in Yugoslavia in the “Veseli četvrtak” (Rollicking Thursday) magazine, and the birth of Mika the Mouse – the balkanized version of Mickey Mouse. The publication of the first contemporary comic strip translation in Yugoslavia – the U.S. comic Secret Agent X-9. Harry Wills is created, the first original character in Serbian and Yugoslav comics. The publication of the first episode of Zigomar, Masked Hero, whose character was inspired by the Phantom.

  • 1951 - 1952 -

    The return of Disney heroes to Yugoslavia. The continuation of Politikin zabavnik.

  • 1966 -

    The first publication of Mikijev zabavnik.

  • 1971 -

    The first publication of Robert Crumb’s comic strip in Yugoslavia for the magazine “Student”

  • 1980 -

    The exhibition American Underground Comics – An Exhibition of the Collection of American Underground Comic (Note) Books opens at the Student’s Cultural Center (SKC) in Belgrade

  • 1991 -

    Aleksandar Zograf publishes Alas! Comics in the U.S. magazine Bonus.

  • 1993 -

    Disney withdrawal from the FR Yugoslavia.
    „Šund d.d.“ publishing house issues the non-licensed edition of The Classics of Underground Comics, which include the works of Robert Crumb in four (note)books and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers by Gilbert Shelton

  • 1994 - 1996 -

    Life Under Sanctions by Aleksandar Zograf is published in the US.
    Fantagraphics Books from Seattle publish Psychonaut 1 & 2 by Aleksandar Zograf.

  • 2002 - 2003 -

    Solo exhibition of Aleksandar Zograf’s comics at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.
    The publication of Illegal Emigrants by Danilo Milošev Wostok & Goran Vasić Burek.
    Zograf takes part in the exhibition American Effect at The Whitney Museum of American Art.


  • 2012 -

    Komiko publishing house issues the first licensed comics by Crumb & Shelton.

  • 2016 -

    Robusto!!! by Wostok & Friends is printed by US publishers Lovecraft House.


Marija Samardžić was born and lives in Pančevo. She completed her graduate and postgraduate studies in World Literature and Literature Theory in Belgrade. She works in the Pančevo Cultural Center (KCP). She was editor at the publications department at KCP (Cultural Center Pančevo) where she collaborated on publications dealing with comic book history and editors Saša Rakezić and Zdravko Zupan. She collaborates with the Festival of Non-Aligned Comics “Novo doba” (New Age) and the Pančevo Film Festival.


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