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 drawingfrom 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…!”
Petar Meseldžija was born in Novi Sad, Serbia, in 1965. He began his career in 1981, publishing the comic strip "Krampi" in the Stripoteka, one of the best known comic magazines in the country. This was followed by a series of short comics and his work on the licensed comic book Tarzan. He graduated from the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, in the Painting Department. During his studies he continued to work on comics, but also more often working on illustrations. In 1991 he illustrated his first book Peter Enkorak, published by Mladinska knjiga from Slovenia.
At the end of 1991 he moved to the Netherlands. Soon after, he stopped working on comics and dedicated himself to illustration and painting.
During the 1990s he painted about 120 posters and greeting cards, mostly for Verkerke Reproduktie from Holland. For Grimm Press, a publisher from Taiwan, he did 33 illustrations for the book King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He held his first solo exhibition of illustrations and paintings in 1998 in the Tjalf Sparnaay Gallery in Amsterdam.
He has participated in many group exhibitions in Yugoslavia, the Netherlands and the USA.
His work has been published in a variety of periodicals and books all over the world.
Among many awards which he received for his work are:
“Plaque The International Golden pen of Belgrade, 1994”, Yugoslavia;
The “Art Show Judges Choice Award” – 59th World Science Fiction Convention, Philadelphia, 2001, US.;
Two Silver Awards from “Spectrum 4 and Spectrum 10 – The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art”, U.S.;
Gold Award “Spectrum 16 – The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art”, U.S.
From the beginning of 2000 he has dedicated himself to gallery art. Of the exhibitions where he has participated, the most worthy of mention is the Exhibition of Independent Realists. This exhibition, organized annually at the Mohlmann Museum from the Netherlands, offers clear insight into the creative achievements of contemporary Dutch artists in the domain of realist and figurative art. In addition to painting, he continues to do illustrations.
Two other significant projects should be mentioned. He painted 10 book covers for books of children's fantasy literature for the American publisher Scholastic Inc. Likewise, he illustrated the Serbian folk take “Prava se muka ne da sakriti”(“Real Trouble Cannot Be Hidden") for Bazar Tales, a publisher from Norway. In his work on the book, The Legend of Steel Bashaw, he has invested enormous time and effort. This project, for him of the greatest importance, was started in 1993. Including shorter and longer breaks, the longest of which lasted 7 years, he has been working on the book for 15 years, finally finishing it in August of 2008.
His original work is to be found in the private collections in Serbia, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S.