A lot of the comics that I have been working on for years have been based on true events. Among the topics that interest me are the cases of people who managed in some way or another to transcend their situation, which sometimes was difficult, or even tragic. One such story is the life and death of the Jewish-Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti. He toiled in the labour camps built by Nazis in Bor, in Eastern Serbia, before he was sent with the rest of the forced labourers into a forced march, which he did not survive. His biological being was annihilated through the gruesome circumstances, but his poetry, found in a mass grave, survived, and became an important part of post-war Hungarian, and world, literature. It somehow made us believe that Art (in this case poetry) could be stronger than the powerful machinery built by totalitarian regimes, such as the one established by the Nazis in the 1940s. Could something as gentle as poetry overcome the heartless exploitation executed by fearsome men in uniforms? I like to think so. While creating the comic, I did research into the situations in the labour camps in Bor, through the testimonies by survivors and other documents, at the same time observing the fascinating artistic figure of modernist poet Miklós Radnóti. He seemed so alive, almost as if I had met him personally. The conditions in the camps became more than just the abstract thought of them. I felt that, while working on this story, I really learned something…
Postcards from Bor
14 frames, each 31.5×44 cm
Saša Rakezić (a.k.a. Aleksandar Zograf)
Saša Rakezić (1963), better known under the pseudonym of Aleksandar Zograf, lives and works in Pančevo, Serbia. He started publishing his comics in the mid-1980s, in various Yugoslav publications. Before that, as a teenager, he published his own fanzine (named Kreten/Cretin), and soon started to write for national magazines as a rock critic, mostly dealing with avantgarde popular music. In the early 1990s, his interest in contemporary American comics, of which he had only basic knowledge, made him leave his steady job at an animation studio in Belgrade, as he decided to start his own career as a comics artist. He began to exchange his self-published mini comics with American authors, who eventually forwarded Zograf’s work to the editors of magazines and publishing houses around the US. Soon he had several titles with Fantagraphics Books (Life Under Sanctions, Psychonaut 1 and 2), and, in these pre-internet years, practically lived the career of an American alternative cartoonist without leaving his small town in Serbia. He went to the US and Canada for the first time in 1999, when he had already published several titles there. In the late 1990s he extended his collaboration to European publishers, and to date has published about 50 titles in the US, UK, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Poland, Finland, Japan, Croatia and Serbia. He has also published in a variety of magazines, among which are Weirdo, The Comics Journal and Seattle Weekly in the US; Internazionale, Il Manifesto and Linus in Italy; Süddeutsche Zeitung and Hinterland in Germany; Lapin and Courrier International in France; Das Magazin and Strapazin in Switzerland; Quadrado in Portugal; Galago in Sweden; Stripburger in Slovenia, and countless others. Starting from 2003, he has produced 2 pages of comics every week for Belgrade’s independent political magazine Vreme. Aleksandar Zograf has also presented his work in numerous exhibitions, the most important solo shows having been in the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Liquid Ad Store in Munich, the Cultural Center of Belgrade, Un Regard Moderne in Paris and Mondo Bizzarro in Rome. His comics range from dream stories and comics reports to autobiographical, archaeological comics, and beyond. In 2018, Zograf appeared as the main narrator and researcher in the documentary/live action-animation hybrid movie, The Final Adventure of Kaktus Kid (directed by Đorđe Marković).