Symposium Comics Connected.




WOSTOK: All I was thinking of when I was 12 years old was how to become as good professional cartoonist as all these great French roll model artists, I tried to imitate them but I was not very successful and then one day I realized that I should try to make my own unique style.


PART ONE - Freedom of expression in outside world

   One copy of  “Robusto!!!” book was confiscated in August 2016, at Canadian border. Milka Stupar from Toronto, Canada received package with comics she ordered from publisher “Lovecraft House“ and noticed that it was already being open and that book with complete serial „Robusto!!!“ was missing! She complained to the publisher and the whole case went to the court with the help of “Comic Book Legal Defense Fund” a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics medium.
   I was shocked when I was informed from publisher about the whole incident. I was trying to make a picture of the whole event in my head-it turns out that in Canada it is normal that average policemen on the border takes a book 250 pages long with 3 extensive prefaces and within a few seconds is able to decide that it is not for human use? And you know, this book doesn’t have anything ILLEGAL about it- it was legally published in United States of America and it was ordered and payed for and sent through legal mail system - No one of us who are involved in creation and publication of it don’t have and never had any legal troubles ever and yet you have unpleasant situation in which one adult person is stopped from reading the book she already paid for by another adult person who has legal right to do such things on purpose!... Probably in Canada Ministry of culture is closely connected to Ministry of police so policemen do the job of evaluating cultural goods on the border on behalf of Ministry of culture? Is it possible that you actually steal someones private property just because you don’t like the front cover?... Than things started to get much better for this book. One copy of it reached Bob Levin who liked it very much and wrote extensive review for “Comics Journal” and gave it five stars! As a conclusion of his review, he wrote: ”Some transgressive cartoonists seem to work out of an accumulation of internalized personal wounds which they splay upon the page like a suddenly burst pimple, to which others are likely to respond, “Uh… What’s on the next channel?” But Wostok’s book carries the weight of a trailer truckload of bloody-limbed horrors which, having previously pummeled an entire population, makes its dismissal impossible. It may lack forward-moving narrative pull, but it commands attention through its I-can’t-believe-you-topped-what-went-before accumulations. It may not lead to cathartic release; but it effectively assumes catharsis is a myth. It may present no relationships with psychological complexity to explore; but it has persuasively squashed them through the blow-upon-blow-upon-blow it has rained upon you.
Robusto!!! is unhinged and offensive, sure. It also seems honest and just. It convinces by its content that anything less would leave unscratched the ground from which it sprang. It is a you-got-nothing-on-me, Catch-22.  Bite this, Dr. Strangelove, it says. Blackly humored, deadly serious, it speaks, for a different time and a different place, truths that have been hard-earned.”

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PART TWO - Feedom of expression in my inner world

First part of this presentation was discussing freedom of expression and how to fight for it in outside world, but before I even had to think about it there was this inner freedom to be gained. I grew up reading first Italian commercial comics and later comics from French-belgic school. All I was thinking of when I was 12 years old was how to become as good professional cartoonist as all these great French roll model artists. Of course that meant clear line style, great discipline with no improvisations, high level of predictability and so on. I try to imitate them but I was not very successful and I thought maybe I should buy professional equipment and than I shall become real good professional. That didn’t help either and I started to tear apart and burn my early comics deeply unsatisfied with art I managed to produce at that time. I even quit drawing comics thinking I am not gifted enough to draw them. And then one day I realized that I should try to make my own unique style. That was the real turning point in my life and this process was very long and slow but at the end I succeeded. When I look at my whole process of development I realize that what I considered my „Inability to draw good“ was actually rebellion of my inner being against attempts of my ratio to try to force me to become an imitator of some of these famous cartoonists.
      And the whole case of production of Robusto!!! serial is good  example about possible obstacles on the way to freedom of expression and how to get over them. Those „obstacles“ are often unconscious and invisible... When I first started writing script I wanted to make a crossover comic-one that would be understood by everyone. I teamed up with accomplished cartoonist Lazar Bodroza and he started to illustrate my script... but, soon, he stopped and our colaboraton failed... -one year after that there was some comic workshop in my hometown and organizer asked me if i have some story to post it for collective drawing. I had a pile of 10 episodes scripts of „Robusto!!!“ and i decided to post one of them for drawing. It was rather complicated to try to explain to participants of the workshop what is going on in this serial and what they should draw, especially cause some of them actually never tried to draw comics before!... The results were unexpectedly interesting and good, so i decided to hire as much amateurs and outsiders as possible to draw for this comic serial. Then I relaxed even more and started to make collages mostly from pile of „Agricultural annual“ which my mother gave me. Whole thing was becoming more and more funny and surreal and probably the top of wild freedom we gained was on the final workshop where one of the participants under the heavy influence continued to draw even after the lights were turned off!
He actually destroyed some of the posted pages so i had to post them again for new drawing... but then I decided to include some of his crazy drawings made in complete darkness and it gave even greater fell of weirdness to our comic serial!

Danilo Milošev Wostok



Later on that day, as a second part of Wostok's presentation, Zlata VK's documentary "Robustards" was shown in front of the participants of Symposium in local cinema club Kommunales Kino. The movie speak about the Wostok's book "Robusto!!!" published in USA in 2016.

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