Since I was a little kid, I had a great passion for comic books. At some point, my brother and I had around 200 copies. I know, every country has its own most popular comic books, and ex-Yugoslavia wasn’t any exception. I don’t have any numbers nor papers to cover my postulate, but I believe, in contrast to the Unites States and the Western Europe that pledge to DC Comics and Marvel, the Yugoslav youth prefered Italian comics books, such as Komandant Mark (Italian: Il Comandante Mark), Zagor, Blek Stena (Il Grande Blek), Tex, Dillan Dog, Kapetan Miki, Mr. No etc.
I especially enjoyed reading the adventures of Zagor (the image) and Komandant Mark, but I collected all the above-mentioned, too. The reason I never liked the American comics books was the factor of unreality, i.e. American comics are almost always centered around superheroes, individuals with supernatural powers. I don’t know, it never worked for me. But the other factor is the structure of storytelling. There is order and consistency in Italian comics, while the American comics are made with a rather chaotic structure. Actually, every hero, that I enjoyed reading about, was not supernatural. They were all very skillful and athletic, but also vulnerable. And none of them could fly.
The last reason why I loved those Italian heroes was the plot. Most of the stories in the mentioned comic books took place in the past. Blek and Komandant Mark is about American struggle against the British power in the 18th century. Zagor, Kapetan Miki and Tex take place in the next century (cowboy time!). Mr. No and Dillan Dog are both heroes of the 20th century. Somehow, I like that the heroes are doing their deeds either the past or the present, because of the realism. I could always identify with them or at least put their story in perspective, since I was always quite interested in history, for instance.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I had a chance to read some of the new issues of Zagor, Blek and Komandant Mark. It would be unfair to say I was disappointed, I wasn’t, but the magic somehow was gone. Of course, I got older, but the stories were not as compelling as before. Also, the drawing style was different from before and I believe that is one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy new issues as the old ones.
Actually, the story of Zagor was the least immature, while Komandant Mark and especially Blek were quite naïve and childish. It definitely ruined the image of the two heroes from my childhood. The question is would I feel the magic if I actually read some of the old issues, from the old days. Somehow I doubt, but I am sure it would have been a lot of fun.