Some info from Yugoslavia

posted in: 2 - Books and Manga | 0

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Back in March of 2015 we posted some art, and plenty of speculation, about 80’s craze-era ninja comics from Yugoslavia, and now we have some first hand info on them, thanks to VN reader and student of the arts Navid Bulbulija:

Yugoslavia at that time had a huge (considering the size of the country) comics production. One of the leading figures being Branislav (Bane) Kerac, creator of Cat Claw.  I don’t believe Kerac ever drew for the ninja series, but he did have a picturesque ninja villain in the Cat Claw series. Yugoslavia at the time had a license for Tarzan, Disney characters, Tom & Jerry, and few other characters so the local authors were able to make a living drawing and writing comics.

The Ninja series, in the scans on your site, was drawn by local artists, and the main character is Leslie  Eldridge — the only non-japanese ninja (loosely based on Stephen K. Hayes). The character was based on the pulp novels published by the same publisher — Dečje Novine, Gornji Milanovac. They were writen by Derek Finegan (or, as the legend goes Brana Nikolić, Finegan being his pseudonim).

Navid included some scans from his personal collection, albeit in rough shape. To quote him “These were my first exposure to ninja. I was a collector of the ninja magazines and books as a kid, but most of them were destroyed in the war.” Being a collector of 80s ninja fare in a country that wasn’t torn up in a 6-way civil war is hard enough, I can’t imagine what fortune it took for these to survive not only the common childhood but a war zone to boot.

We hope to hear more from our new pal from the former Yugoslavia, where ninja fandom endures.

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Eastern Block ninja pulp

posted in: 2 - Books and Manga | 0

There were a couple of sellers on eBay last month that had ninja-themed comics from what was formerly Yugoslavia. Sadly, I’m broke as hell for the foreseeable future and they were priced too high anyway, so I didn’t keep track of them. Hope they found a good home…

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I don’t recognize this art at all…

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This, however, is at least a partial reprint of Marvel’s DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU magazine #23 from 1974, cover feature being THE KILLER ELITE, with a painting better than any action seen in that insulting abortion of a film.

One current seller, who goes by “poster_maniac_dux” (shipping out of Croatia) has some issues of EKS — intriguing mid-to-late-80’s magazine-sized B&W comics that mix Marvel, Phantom, Mandrake and other American comic reprints with what are unfamiliar (possibly Yugoslav-produced) ninja stories. I may be dead wrong here, perhaps these ninja pages are reprinted from some obscure 80s series from the U.S, Italy, France or maybe a 2000AD title from England I never saw.

Any help in ID-ing this shinobi content would be greatly appreciated.

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The covers are a real mixed bag, some cribbing art from movie posters, others looking like paintings from video game packaging or Ninja magazine.

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NINJA MISSION anyone?

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Some nice interiors:

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Dying to know more about the character and art above and below! The more I look at this art in particular, the more I’m leaning towards these being Italian reprints…

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This cover looks positively Howard Chaylin-like.

A switch in character design and art here. Love the header band of art on top. The presence of such leads me to believe this stuff is reprinted from something that was originally published at a different aspect ratio than the magazine format here.

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A Russian seller had this tangental gem for sale, a Cyrillic ninjutsu manual with a bootleg Sho Kosugi cover and interior art that looks lifted from a variety of sources — martial arts magazines from the states, gaming manuals, mail order catalogs, etc.

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I love finding ninja craze stuff from Europe, especially stuff this niche. Greece had a similar spike in ninja merch at the same time. As common as Euro-edition movie posters and lobby cards are (like the below), the comics are a rarer breed, but equally worthy of preserving.

I’d preserve them myself if the prices were lower. C’mon guys, rareness doesn’t always equal value or demand, give a ninja a break…

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