20th International Comics Festival will be held from September 28th to October 1st, 2023
20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE COMICS FESTIVAL
For the past 20 years, the Happy Gallery of the Student Cultural Center in Belgrade has been organizing and leading the International Comics Festival, as its regular and largest program. The editorial team's strategy, conceived in 2001, aimed to revitalize comics as the ninth art in its fullest form and present this artistic discipline to the audience in all its aspects within its annual program. Bearing in mind the editorial program, primarily related to visual arts, initially the emphasis was on the exhibition concepts related to comics. Subsequently, panel discussions, lectures, albums and publishers’ promotions were introduced.
In January 2001, the Fanzinijada (Fanzinics), a major festival of alternative, underground, and authorial comics, was organized as a precursor to the comics festival. Soon after, the Happy Gallery established educational workshops for alternative and classical drawing expressions and a comics school for young participants.
At that time, although isolated on the domestic cultural scene, we were encouraged by the enthusiastic response from artists and interested parties for such a concept. In September 2003, after a thorough examination of the prerequisites for realizing this envisioned grand festival, we launched the International Comics Festival for Youngs. It has since become the largest and most massive comics event in this part of Europe, showcasing authors of all ages from around the world.
Over the past 20 years, the International Comics Festival at the Student Cultural Center in Belgrade has presented more than 80 prominent comic authors to the Belgrade audience from around the world, Serbia, and the surrounding region. The festival's competitive program section has featured around 2,500 comic authors from 60 countries, including 1,000 authors aged 15 and under.
While acknowledging comics as primarily literary works, the distinctiveness of this festival lies in its exhibition segment of comics art and the presentation of the most virtuosic achievements in the visual arts domain. The festival is conceptually based on the reevaluation of domestic comics creation, the promotion of young authors and the domestic publishing industry.
The 20th-anniversary edition of the festival presents two representative artistic projects. The first, realized in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain in Belgrade, is the Graphic Constellation project featuring nine young Spanish avant-garde female comics authors through two exhibitions and presentation programs (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona CCCB). The second project, titled Beyond Comics - A Look into the Artwork of Serbian Comics Artists, is a grandiose endeavor consisting of two exhibitions. It showcases the works of 27 eminent Serbian artists and is the result of collaboration between Živojin Tamburić, a comics critic and historian from London, and Marko Stojanović, a Serbian comics theoretician, scriptwriter, and editor.