|Earliest publications||19th century|
|Comics by country and culture|
Hungarian comics are comics made in Hungary and by the Hungarian diaspora of the surrounding countries. When dealing with Hungarian comics, one cannot separate comics made by Hungarians from translated foreign matter, since in some eras most of the publications come from the latter group and influence comics fandom and the general picture about comics in the country.
The roots of Hungarian comics reach back to the mid 19th century. Until the late 1930s the development of the genre were parallel to current trends in European comics. Comic strips were generally found in newspapers and magazines, featuring works from both Hungarian and foreign artists. Since comics were so closely bound to the printed media, their creators were mostly caricature artists as well. The years preceding World War II proved to be unfavorable for comics as the mainly Jewish owned yellow press basically disappeared together with comic strips (a great exception were children's comics).
After the few years of the transitional phase following World War II, Hungarian cultural politics were influenced by the Soviet Union, as a consequence comics were regarded as "western cultural trash" and were basically forbidden for years. By the mid-1950s comics were tolerated, but with strict compromises. Under these years adaptational comics were made in great numbers. This period lasting until the late 1970s is regarded by some comics historians as the Golden Age of Hungarian comics; the most respected artists, Ernő Zórád, Imre Sebők and Pál Korcsmáros lived and were active during this period lasting until the mid-1970s.
In the 1980s, under a warmer political climate, translations of foreign comics were published in growing numbers. After the fall of the Iron Curtain a large variety of translated European and American comics were published in the country. Although most companies were full of enthusiasm, only few were strong enough in capital to live through the radically altering circumstances of the 1990s.
This course eventually resulted in the American (superhero) comics' dominance by the middle of the decade. These years also witnessed the appearance of a new generation of Hungarian comics creators.
The few years preceding and following the new millennium seemed to be least successful for comics, many magazines folded during these years leaving several fans without comics. This and some other factors caused fans, artists, publishers, merchants to connect on the Internet and set up new foundations for a wholly revised comics scene. The period lasting since 2004–2005 is commonly referred to as the New Wave of Hungarian comics, since comics scene participants show a degree of activity never seen before.
The Hungarian word for comics is képregény (pronounced: keːprɛgeːɲ), a combined word (compound) from kép (picture) and regény (novel). The word was already used in the 1930s,[nb 1] but it only became the exclusive term after 1948, before that, képes történet (pictorial story) and other similar expressions described the medium The words comics (referring to American comics), manga (referring to mainly Japanese comics), bd / bande dessinée (referring to Franco-Belgian comics) are sometimes used in Hungary, but, apart from manga, are not generally in use. (The word sztrip or strip is also used by the Hungarian minorities in Vojvodina, Serbia.)
The history of Hungarian comics is best divided along political eras, because of the great influence politics has made on comics.
During the late 19th century Hungary, as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, kept pace with the European trends, pointing in the direction of what later became known as modern comics. Rodolphe Töpffer and especially Wilhelm Busch (Max und Moritz) were popular and had great effect on Hungarian journalism, and soon the Hungarian equivalents were born. One of the most important writers of the time, Mór Jókai founded (1858 August 21) and edited a magazine called Üstökös (comet) based on Fliegende Blätter. (During the Monarchy German language Fliegende Blätter was a popular magazine in Hungary, with several thousand subscribers in the country.). Pages were filled with caricatures and "pictorial stories" (called képtörténetek, képes történetek), the European predecessor of modern comics. A short story was told in few sequential pictures, and the text (many times in rhyming poetic form) was placed beneath the images. Many similar journals existed besides Üstökös. Hungary had a flourishing caricature culture at the time, and many of the greatest artists also drew these early types of comics.[nb 2]
This list contains those comics artists, who are emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
The comic strip boom of the United States had a growing effect on Hungarian newspaper publishing until the late 1930s. American comics flooded all kinds of newspapers, magazines. Hári János (see image) (1936-1937), a magazine for children is considered to be the first Hungarian comic book magazine, with comic strips on every page. Walt Disney strips, Secret Agent X-9, Little Nemo in Slumberland (Kis Némó Álomországban), George McManus strips and many others marked this period.
Not as many Hungarian comics were made in this period, while – for example – Yugoslavia, the southern neighbor, claims this period to be their Golden Age.
During this period the truncated Hungary was an ally of Germany. In 1937 the Minister of Justice began restricting the great amount of pulp literature and yellow press. In 1938 a decree ordered the whole press under the control of the Government. In the same year the "First Jewish Law" was issued. Among others the goal of these two were to "clean" Hungary's cultural life, to eliminate pulp literature. As the Újság, a Hungarian extremist newspaper, commented in 1938: "These are not at all capable to nurture Hungarian self-knowledge, Hungarian honesty, Hungarian heroism, consequently to nurture the Hungarian folk, national and racial self-knowledge." Since most of the comics were published in the mostly Jewish owned yellow press, comics vanished after the law took effect. The situation became even worse after the German troops marched into Hungary: all leftist and liberal media was banned. The only comics of the time were antisemitic ones, from magazines as the militant Harc (combat) or anticommunist ones from newspapers as Egyedül vagyunk (we are alone).
This list contains those comics artists, who are emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
This list contains those publications, that are emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
In the post-war period, Hungary's cultural-politics were heavily influenced by the Soviet Union. In the first few years comics returned to the newspapers and other magazines: first humorous children comics in 1945, then communist propaganda strips in 1948. The Hungarian term for comics – képregény – became widespread during this short period. In 1950 – according to a famous anecdote – during a visit to Budapest, Finogenov, an influential aesthete from Moscow, called comic books an "imperialist vestige". Within a few days Hungarian prime minister, Mátyás Rákosi withdrew all the "western cultural trash" from the press.
Furthermore, Dr. Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent attracted some attention on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain. His anti-comics accusations echoed in Hungarian newspaper articles. Some of these were written by Hungarian journalists, but some were translations of American articles (at least signed by American names). During these years even caricatures ridiculed comics for its aggressive nature and pairing it with western trash.
In 1954 Ernő Zórád, one of Hungary's all-time greatest comic book artists, dared to bring back comics with his adaptation of Vladimir Obruchev's Plutonia (comics' title: Az Északi-sarkról a Föld belsejébe – From the North Pole to the Center of the Earth). This was published in Pajtás, a magazine for the Pioneer movement (the communist co-ed equivalent for scouting). 1955 was a milestone in Hungarian comic book history, since this was the year when graphic illustrator Sándor Gugi convinced Tibor Horváth (Later Tibor Cs. Horváth) to create some comics together. It was also Gugi's idea to produce comics that adapt classic literature. No one could call adaptations of famous and recognized literary works "decadent western trash", so comics received a green light at the time. Gugi presumably got the idea of adaptational comics from Classics Illustrated. Adaptational comics, what started out as a trick, became dominant for decades. Sándor Gugi left the field relatively early, but Tibor Cs. Horváth produced a vast of comics scripts for some very talented artists such as Imre Sebők, Pál Korcsmáros and Ernő Zórád. These three had their own easily recognizable style and are considered the greatest comic artists of Hungary.
At the time comics were not published in separate comic books, but sequentially in newspapers (e.g. Népszava), magazines (e.g. Képes Újság, Pajtás), and the crossword puzzle magazine Füles. Füles later became a flagship of Hungarian comic publishing. (Füles published the most comics during the period. It was the most important publisher of Pál Korcsmáros and important publisher for artists like Ernő Zórád.) In December 1956, a few weeks after the soviet tanks ended the Revolution of 1956, György Gál and some journalists started conceiving a new, entertaining weekly magazine based on previous magazines such as Pesti Izé and Füles Bagoly. The magazine based on crossword puzzles, articles and comics immediately became a large success. Some say the magazine had a role in healing the wounds. Between January 1957 and December 1960 11 artists drew especially comics. The sum of their work during this period was 145 comics in 2000 pages. 50% of the storyboards were written by Tibor Cs. Horváth, the other by 17 other writers. 40% of the art was done by Pál Korcsmáros (in 1957 he drew 238 pages only for Füles), 20% by Ernő Zórád and 14% by Imre Sebők. Some attempts were made to create pure comic magazines. One of these was Tábortűz (1957–1965), another magazine for Pioneers, based on the French Camera 34 and full of fresh ideas. Although it did not meet the Pioneer Association's ideas and ordered the editorial to drastically reduce the number of comic pages in the magazine.
Adaptational comics are still the source of controversies and debates. Although in most cases the art was beautiful, the panels were heavily packed with narrative texts – a trademark of Tibor Cs. Horváth. By the early sixties this comics type fell into a trap from which it could not escape until recent times. On one hand intellectuals criticized these works for the lack of originality, novelty and artistry, while another major accusation was that comics in general restrict reading habits. However, adaptational comics provided a safe relationship with the cultural-political leadership, and were still popular, comic book import was close to zero, so nothing forced comic artists to move on further.
Still, this compromise made the production of comics possible. In many other countries of the Ex-Eastern Bloc (e.g. Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union, Romania) the situation was even worse with almost no comics of their own. However, some other Eastern Bloc countries at that time had substantial comic book culture, like Yugoslavia and Poland. (Yugoslavia was not influenced directly by the Soviet Union.) For further readings on Ex-Eastern bloc comics culture: Serbian comics, Polish comics, Czech comics
Ernő Zórád ended his professional relationship with Tibor Cs. Horváth and wrote his own comic scripts. Luckily Zórád was not just a great artist, but also a talented storyteller: these comics came much closer to the medium's own language. He also made experimental collage comics in the early seventies attracting international attention. These works were invited to the Salone Internazionale del Comics festival in 1970 but his portfolio – due to Hungarian bureaucracy – has arrived late. Furthermore, the works has been stolen from the festival. By the late seventies the classic trio of Hungarian comics creators disappeared: Korcsmáros died in 1975, Sebők died in 1980 and Zórád retired temporarily. Since young talents were not introduced during the preceding three decades (except for Attila Fazekas), many mark these years the end of Hungarian comics' golden age.
In the early 1970s famous cartoonists (Attila Dargay, Marcell Jankovics) made ventures in the comics medium. Both of them were talented comic book creators, but both of them rather considered animation as their main field. Jankovics even went as far as publicly despising comics. Dargay continued to create comics in the 1980s.
At the time very few foreign comics were allowed to be published for the Hungarian market. The exceptions were mainly comics from the Eastern bloc or comics with socialist/communist background. The exceptions:
In an environment much more liberal, the Hungarian minorities of Yugoslavia published many comics. The most important publisher of the time was Forum Marketprint, which presented Buksi magazine in the sixties. This was the Hungarian language print of the Serbo-Croatian Kekec magazine, also published by Forum-Marketprint.
Although Zórád, Korcsmáros and Sebők are commonly mentioned as the three musketeers of comics, the era had many more talented and important artists. This list contains names emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
This list contains those publications, that are emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
The popularity of comics streaming into the country made many ask the question: why are not there individual comic book series published? (N.B. at the time the main field of Hungarian comics were still newspapers, magazines.) The Ministry of Culture, the Office of Information and the General Directory of Publishing previously never authorized such attempts. The less harsh tone of the mid- and late-eighties (see Glasnost) brought some changes in the field of comics. Some foreign comics were allowed to be published in Hungarian, not just comics from the Eastern Bloc (e.g. Mozaik) or comics from communist French publisher L'Humanité (Vaillant, Pif Gadget), but some politically 'harmless' series as Asterix and Lucky Luke (as Wilám Will) in Alfa, Tom and Jerry (as Tom és Jerry since 1987), Mickey Mouse (as Miki egér from 1988) and Swedish Bobo and Góliát (both from 1986), Tumak, Pink Panther, Nils Holgerson, etc. One of the most important magazines of the era was Kockás, that selected stories from Pif and its predecessor Vaillant.
Again, comics published for the Hungarian minorities in Yugoslavia ranged on a much larger scale: Hägar, larger selection of Asterix and Lucky Luke (in album format), Prince Valiant, Biblical comics, etc. These were popular on both sides of the border, imported both legally and illegally to Hungary.
Most importantly this was the period when Hungarian comics spread from newspapers and magazines to individual comic books, albums. Generally these comics were published in two distinct formats:
Other important, but short comics were published in the sci-fi anthology, Galaktika. Some of today's artists made their first works here (Marabu, Mihály Vass, István Fujkin). The anthology also published foreign comics as Conan, The Adventures of Funky Koval (Funky Koval kalandjai by polish Maciej Parowski, J. Rodek, B. Polch), Rail tracks leading to darkness (Sötétbe vezető sínpár by Czech Kája Saudek).
It was during this era when comics appeared in the underground scene (concert posters, fanzines, samizdat press). Usually underground creators of the time held comics as a cultural venture, producing few comics (László Rajk Jr., Inconnu Independent Art Group).
This list contains those comics artists' name, who are emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
These lists contain those publications, that are emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
Important periodicals publishing comics:
Important comic books or comic series:
The early nineties were a very chaotic, but exciting and optimistic era in terms of comics. Because no one was told what is and is not to be published, many saw great opportunities in releasing comics. In these years a large variety of comics came into the country (not as direct import, but in the form of translations): all kinds of European, American comics. Although most companies were full of enthusiasm, but only few were strong in capital. In the meantime, the whole newspaper and magazine distribution system went through major changes, leaving magazines in a worse situation. Magazine print numbers dropped by 1 or 2 orders of magnitude. Therefore, most of them disappeared after a few months or years. By 1992 such great series as Menő Manó (Italian comics for teenage readers), Krampusz (Italian comics for adult readers), Hepiend Magazin (Conan, Punisher), Vampi (European and American horror, fantasy, erotic comics) vanished. Besides the inexperience of the small publishing companies, the comics-reading audience might not have been ready for these type of comics. In many cases their true value was only discovered in recent years.[nb 7]
This was not the case for superhero comics. In the last months of the People's Republic of Hungary American superhero comics finally were allowed to be published. The first superhero story was published in 1989, in a special issue of Alfa magazine. This was the Revenge of the Living Monolith (A monolit bosszúja), a Marvel team-up story. Also in 1989, after a few years of publishing foreign children's comics (Bobo, Góliát, Pink Panther, Tumak, Pejkó, etc.) Interprint plunged into superhero comics. First The Phantom, than Spider-Man. (In 1991 Interprint joined the Swedish Semic group, which resulted in Semic-Interprint.) The company started releasing Batman in January 1990 and Superman later in the same year. DC comics were not as popular as Marvel superheroes, so the titles merged and were made bimonthly in 1992 as Superman és Batman. X-Men started in June 1992 and Marvel Extra (a compilation of all sorts of Marvel superhero stories) in February 1993.
Hungarian comic book artists found themselves in a very new and alien situation: while comics were having their heyday, young readers' interest drifted from Hungarian comics to the much more modern and spectacular superhero comics. Attila Fazekas, whose Star Wars adaptations were printed in 300,000 copies a decade earlier, now tries every way to remain on the surface. He produced and published his own magazine, Botond. These comic books comprised all kinds of stories, from historical to action. Every issue had a story of Botond, a character based on Hungarian legends and Asterix. He also experimented with erotic (or rather pornographic) comics – with surprisingly small success.[nb 8]
With no major outlet, Hungarian comics started to fade. To this day many directly accuse Semic Interprint and its monthly "dump" of superhero comics for this phenomenon. As the country's leading comic book publisher, Semic Interprint never published a Hungarian comic book in these fragile years (cf. after WWII France - and many other West European countries - had an anti-American self-protective law, a foundation of their flourishing comics culture). Others protect it on the basis of free market.[nb 9]
In March 1994 Semic Interprint launched the bimonthly Kretén (cretin). This absurd and satirical humor magazine is somewhat like Mad or Fluide Glacial. In this magazine many talented artists introduced themselves to a larger audience (Zsolt H. Garisa, Zoltán "Zerge" Varga, Imre "Feki" Fekete, Csete, Gergely Göndöcs, etc.). It can be considered the most important and prestigious outlet for Hungarian comics at the time.
Füles and new crossword puzzle magazines are still popular in Hungary, but comics readers' attention has drifted away from these, leaving the collecting of the comics published in these to hardcore, and mostly veteran fans.
In 1996 Marvel went bankrupt and drastically raised the royalties collected upon translations, therefore Hungarian Marvel titles were canceled in December 1996 (Marvel Extra) and January 1997 (X-Men, Transformer). However the most popular title, Csodálatos Pókember (Amazing Spider-Man), managed to survive. In the same year Semic Interprint started publishing Spawn as a bimonthly with two stories in each issue. In 1999, after its tenth year, 120th issue the company doubled the magazine's number of pages (from 32 to 76) and price too. Every issue contained three complete Spider-Man stories (The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker Spider-Man, Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man – all starting out from #1). The stories did not fulfill the Hungarian needs and the price seemed to be too high, resulting in the canceling of the title at the end of the year, along with Spawn.[nb 10] The price of the bimonthly, not so popular Superman és Batman managed to continue until December 2001, as the only superhero title published in Hungarian.
In 2001 Csodálatos Pókember was relaunched, but instead of carrying on with the Spider-Man continuity, it served a younger audience with the translations of Ultimate Spider-Man. Leaving Kretén and the bimonthly Star Wars out of account, Semic Interprint shifted to the children's audience with other flagship titles such as Dragon Ball (cancelled soon after), Garfield, and Dörmögő Dömötör. Children's comics were the main profile of major publishers like Egmont (Tom és Jerry, Donald Kacsa magazin) and smaller companies such as Abrafaxe Kft. (Mozaik - later continued by N-Press, than Ratius).
After the comic book boom of the 1990s comics fans witnessed a fast downfall around the turn of the Millennium. 2003 can be regarded as the low-point in the scene, when 117 individual comic publications were issued throughout the whole year. The vast majority of these comics were children's comics sold at newspaper stands. By 2003 a generation reached their adolescence with no substantial comic book intake, and the generation that once grew up on superhero comics was left with hardly any comics since the late nineties and more importantly: reached their young adulthood. Looking back, the total lack of a comic book scene in the early 2000s proved to have a cleansing effect and pushed many to rebuild the whole scene from its base. The first to act were remaining hardcore fans, who began to organize into web communities on Internet forums and a new scene developed on the basis of scanlations. Since no comic books were sold on the market, fans began to scan, translate, re-letter and share digital comics. In English speaking countries scanlations usually refer to manga, but in Hungary the process of fan translations and lettering started with Marvel superhero-type comics, and then moved on to other types. The most notable achievement of the Hungarian scanlating scene was that it brought together the fans, forming a base of comics fandom. Although many different websites existed, each specializing in different comics genres, types (European, superhero, independent, manga, underground, etc.), Kepregeny.net managed to unite all different kind of comics fans. Kepregeny.net also started out as a scanlating and scanning website, its forum provided a platform for fans and professionals (artists, editors of earlier series, retailers etc.) to meet and discuss all kinds of issues. Many projects were eventually launched from there, and to this day it is a place for fan talk and professional debate and most notably Kepregeny.net can be regarded as the main information gateway for all comics fans and professionals.
2004 can be regarded as the breakthrough year in comics publishing. In February the Complete Maus was released by Ulpius-ház, a larger publishing house. (The first book of Maus has already been published in the early nineties.) Besides the release of the graphic novel, Ulpius organized an exhibition which exposed pages from Maus in Budapest's subway carts, seen by one million passengers a day. The project became successful, and attracted large media attention. This project was timed for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the German occupation in March 1944, resulting in the deportation of 800,000 Hungarian Jews and other minorities. (This also is revealed in the graphic novel.)
Another milestone of the year was the publication of the Belgian album series, XIII. This, along with Largo Winch has already been introduced to the Hungarian audience in 1995 as part of the X-07 black and white series in American comic book format.
That year also brought some changes in Hungarian comics:
Since then many smaller publishers, usually based around one or a few fans themselves, made ventures in releasing comics. These companies provide a very broad variety of comics, some specializing on smaller territories (manga, American mainstream), others representing a larger scale. In 2005 most of these companies forged into the Magyar Képregénykiadók Szövetsége (Hungarian Comic Publishers' Association), based more on mutual interests and friendship, rather than strict rules and codes. Organizing festivals and fairs can be considered as the organization's biggest success.
Publishers soon realized that in most cases the newspaper market is far from ideal for comics, however it might be feasible on the book market. This however is a phenomenon seen in many other comic cultures. In the last few years only three companies made efforts on the newspaper market: Panini Comics Italy (four, later two Marvel titles) and Képes Kiadó (a black and white budget magazine called Eduárd fapados képregényújság) both failed at it, however Pesti könyv still sends its Lucky Lukes to the newspaper stands (beside bookstores). Bookstores have a constantly growing variety on graphic novels, trade paperbacks, albums, etc. This phenomenon is still new for many Hungarians, since they were used to searching for comics at the newspaper stands/shops, tobacconists, etc.
In a country with a population around 10 million, these 'books' are published in 2 to 5000 copies, which is extremely low, causing relatively high prices. Despite the low number of copies, comics and the theme of its revival has been a frequent topic of the media. In spite of this, prejudice concerning comics fades very slowly.
Also during this period, comics' own offline printed media has been born in the form of semi fanzine-semi professional papers as Panel, Buborékhámozó (bubble-peeler).
The first significant amount of manga were published in the last quarter of 2006 and by the end of 2007, it flooded the comics market, being the most popular among them. Unlike the second most popular type of comics – superheroes – manga fans have their own fan groups, conventions, and are less interested in other type of comics.
Generally mainstream American and manga comics receive the largest attention from the consumers, but the large number of small publishers ensure a wide and colorful variety of comics.
In 2006 13,8% of the comics published that year for the bookstore market were related to manga/global manga. Although not too many manga were published in 2006, it was the breakthrough of that particular genre, style, stream with rapidly growing publication numbers. By 2009 58,1% of the comics published for that same market were manga. Apart from a few exceptions, manga published in Hungary usually come from the shōjo and shōnen demographic genres (primarily shōjo). Seinen manga are not as frequent as the prior two demographic genres, some examples include Berserk, Vampire Hunter D, Dominion, Who fighter with Heart of Darkness, Blade of the Phantom Master, Hoshi no Sabaku. (Latter is one of few manga, that's first Western edition was made by a Hungarian publisher.) Rare examples of gekiga comics were published in the international anthology series, Papírmozi presenting works by artists Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Katsuhiro Otomo.
In Hungary American comic book publishing dates back to the late eighties (see The last decade of communist Hungary section in history chapter), but until the middle of the first decade of the new millennium these comics were limited to the superhero genre (Batman, Superman, Spider-man, X-men, etc.), children's (well known titles from the TV screen: Tom and Jerry, Disney characters, etc.), humor comics (Garfield). Parallel to the Hungarian comics market moving to the bookstores, publishers put more emphasis on graphic novels. Today Dark Horse Comics and Vertigo titles are just as common editorial picks as DC and Marvel titles. Many groundbreaking, cult comics, graphic novels have their Hungarian edition (i.e. Sandman, Batman: Year One, Sin City, Watchmen, Understanding Comics, Maus, etc.) In 2006 31.3% of the comics published for the bookstore market were of American origin (claiming the highest portion), in 2009, despite the fact that the number of American comics grew by 80%, the portion of the total numbers released for the bookstore market decreased to 20.9%. In connection with American comics in Hungary it is important to point out, that more than half of the comics on the newsstand market are of American origin. A large portion of these are magazines dedicated to popular cartoon series (Tom and Jerry, Cartoon Network magazine, Sponge Bob, Scooby Doo, etc.) In 2016 Frike Comics (www.frike.net) started to publish OUTCAST, from IMAGE Comics and Robert Kirkman. Until now 4 issues have been published with good response by the market. ( The original Volume I)
Although publishing and distributing European comics dates back to a longer period of time than of American comics (see previous chapters), since the early 1990s most of these comics could not reach the popularity of superhero comics. From the mid nineties to 2004 German Mosaik was the only major European comic book title published in the country. Today many Francophone albums are published in Hungarian, but their print numbers range from a few hundred to one or two thousand. The future of these titles depends much on the enthusiasm and dedication of the editor and publisher.
Despite previous publications, Bonelli titles could not reach substantial popularity. Dampyr, which started as an experiment to test cheaper Italian pulp comics, closed after six issues.
In 2006 17.2% of the comics released for the bookstore market were of European origin, in 2009 this ratio was 12.8% (the gross number of publications on the bookstore market grew 3 times between 2006 and 2009). European comics constitute a substantial portion of the comics published for the alternative market: 36.2% of the comics on that particular market were of European origin in 2009. This is due to a large number of small print numbered, collector's editions of Mosaik books.
Despite the smaller sellings in this field, publishers and editors seek contact with European artists resulting in more offbeat publications from Marcel Ruijters (The Netherlands), Gradimir Smudja (Serbia, France), Alexandru "Ciubu" Ciubotariu (Romania), Risto Isomäki (Finland), two books from Aleksandar Zograf (Serbia), Kati Kovács (Finland), Pieter De Poortere (The Netherlands), etc.
In 2014 Bonelli comics are published again in Hungary, with the debut of Dylan Dog number 1. (Fumax edition with the support of Frike Comics). Dylan Dog under Fumax has been published until number 4. From Dylan Dog number 5, a new publisher is active, Frike Comics (www.frike.net). Frike Comics has published Dylan Dog 5 and 6. Also re-proposed Dampyr with a new number 1. Up to today, the new Dampyr reached number 3, Dylan Dog reached number 6 (plus reprint of sold-out number 1). In 2018, Dampyr 4 and Dylan 7 are to come. Moreover, the cross over of the 2 heroes is in program already.
Taking in consideration the wide selection of comics printed in Hungary, comics created by Hungarians only provide a smaller part of the variety. The reason reflects a complex and mainly economic type of problem that has occupied some, for the last two decades. Generally speaking, the small market does not permit the publishing of domestic comics with larger costs than the royalties of foreign materials. Even if the publisher can agree with an author or team of authors, it has to take greater risks compared to the already known foreign product, where the reception could be previously estimated. Artists – apart from very few exceptions – make their living from other related graphic fields such as advertisement, animation, therefore devoted artists work on their comics projects in their free time. This way artists gain less practice than their professional contemporaries and a project takes longer to reach its final stage. Naturally, the quality and genre of these works strongly vary resulting in readers losing their faith in domestic comics. At this point the vicious circle would close in if not for a few publishers devoted to Hungarian comics. And luckily many artists, artist groups decide to take publishing of their own works into their own hands.
To attract more attention to Hungarian creations, MKSZ founded the Alfabéta prize in 2006 to award domestic authors. (The name ironically rhymes and refers to the Hungarian word analfabéta — meaning illiterate, a common offense against comics readers in the past.)
Comics made by Hungarian creators only make up around 8.1% (2009 data) of the comics sold in bookstores. This ratio is even less at the newsstands ruled by children's magazine franchises (Cartoon Network, Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, etc.). The real field for Hungarian authors is the alternative market, where 31 different Hungarian comics were published in 2009. And of course cross-word puzzle, humor and other type of magazines and periodicals are still a strong flagship of the country's comics, if not the strongest.
In 2009 83 artists were active in the sense, that their works were published throughout the year. 28 of these artists had under 10 pages of comics published, 21 artists between 10 and 19 pages, another 20 artists between 20 and 49 pages, and 14 artists managed to draw over 50 pages that year. Short comics under 10 pages are a relatively common form of comics, these are usually published in magazines, comics anthologies (most notably Pinkhell, Nero Blanco Comix, Panel specials, Sushi Strip) or the artist's own collection (Balázs Gróf's strips, Marabu's Dodó strip series, Napirajz (Daily Drawings), a cult webcomic series, etc.). Individual graphic novels, comic books from Hungarian authors are not as common, but luckily each year produces a handful of them. Some of the most well known are Lencsilány by István Lakatos, Kalyber Joe Kalandjai (The Adventures of Kalyber Joe) by Roland Pilcz, Spirál by Attila Futaki (also published in France), Noktürn by Dániel Csordás, Gemini Jelentés (Gemini report) by Attila Fazekas and Antal Bayer, Rév: a Hívó (Haven: The Developer) by Róbert Odegnál, Rejtő/Korcsmáros classic comics remakes.
However some editors and journalists believe, Hungarian comics have the potential of recruiting more comics fans and reaching a cult status in Hungary. Editor, Antal Bayer speculates in a forum comment: "At the same time, I'm convinced that a really 'up-to-date' Hungarian comic could reach the cult status, then maintain massive popularity. We've seen how Napirajz moved the people, but we need something more than that for breakthrough. I can hardly wait for the Hungarian comic book which will be received with as much enthusiasm as the latest Rejtő/Korcsmáros reissue."
As mentioned before, Hungarian alternative and underground comics reach back to the 1970s, 1980s. Usually underground comics appeared in (rock music) fanzines (e.g. Dall-Ass, Genyó Szívó Disztroly). Individual underground comic books only appeared in the mid-2000s with publications as PTSD antológia (2004), Sushi Strip (2005). The first Hungarian fanzine dedicated to comics is Panel (2006). These publications had an encouraging effect on other comics artists. In 2007 a larger boom happened in the field, many young artists chose to publish their own comic books in 30-300 copies. As in the case of other scenes, these works range from alternative to mainstream-like comics. The phenomena continued in 2008. Manga fans are also active in this field. Larger events - especially the annual festival in spring - usually give space to these artists to sell their comics.
Only a couple of Hungarian artists so far have been able to work for Western European or US companies, although previously many classic Hungarian comics (works primarily by Zórád, Sebők, Korcsmáros, Fazekas) were translated and published throughout the world (mainly "friendly" - meaning socialist - countries as Yugoslavia, East-Germany, Cuba, Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc., but some Zórád comics were published in such countries as Sweden, The Netherlands.). The first was Attila Fazekas, back in 1991 (he was the artist on a few issues of the German edition of Ghostbusters). Attila Futaki and Gergely Nikolényi's Spiral appeared in France in 2008. Futaki is the artist for the comic adaptation of the Lightning Thief series of novels published by Walt Disney and the Image series, Severed. Leslie Téjlor's erotic albums are published by the Dutch Sombrero or the Italian E.F. Edizioni. Zoltán Korcsok had a short story published in Heavy Metal Magazine. Henrik Horváth started working as an inker for several independent US companies in 2006, some of his works has been published by Image comics. Judit Tondora works as a freelance artist (pencil, ink), her works can be seen in comics of independent publishers as Optic Comics, Outlaw Entertainment. On some of these projects pages are colored by Roland Pilcz.
Since 2004-2005 comics became a more frequent topic in the press and electronic media. In spite of this, prejudice concerning comics has finally begun to fade away. Comic-book-friendly magazines and newspapers, where comics related articles are more frequent include Beszélő, Magyar Hírlap, Magyar Narancs, Népszabadság, Filmvilág, MoziNet, Műút.
Written periodicals dealing with comics as such, sold at newspaper stands or bookstores do not exist in Hungary, although there are some magazines sold on the direct market (festivals, comic-book stores, etc.). These magazines have a small print number (100-350), resulting in a hybrid between fanzines (editing and publishing by the same person, non-profit, authors not paid) and official magazines (ISSN number, well known experts as authors). Panel (March 2006-) was the first of the kind, followed by Buborékhámozó (March 2007-). About the importance of these small print numbered magazines Gyula Maksa, media researcher writes in his book, Variations on Comics (Változatok képregényre): "Although the comics critique has popped up, but it still hasn't made itself independent from the fine art, non illustrated literature and film critique. This could be also changed by Panel, the so called first Hungarian comics fanzine, which from its start seemed as a transition between the traditional fan magazine and a cultural periodical, that is to say, a prozine."
Hungary's main comics portal is Kepregeny.net. The independent portal gathers fans and professionals, acting as a catalyst for many comics projects. The site hosts news, review and photo gallery sections, press archive, bibliographies, and author's webpages.
As in other countries, Hungarian comics blogs can be divided into three main groups: webcomics (i.e. Napirajz – Daily drawing, Fekete Macska – Black Cat, ), blogs of authors (almost all major authors own a blog, where they display new works, experiences, thoughts, etc.) and text based review blogs (i.e. Panel, Buborékhámozó, Heti5képregény). The two main internet portals - index.hu and origo.hu - both have their own specific book/literature blogs, where comics are frequent guests (Könyves blog - Book blog, Kötve fűzve - Bound and stiched). Although it also deals with other fanboy related issues, Geekz blog is considered as a major resource for comics reviews, interviews.
In 2006, HVG magazine's annual blog contest had a separate comics section. In 2007, although comics did not have its own category, a webcomic blog won in the Entertainment category, and another comics text-blog managed to fit into the top ten.
To attract more attention to Hungarian creations, MKSZ founded the Alfabéta prize in 2006 to award domestic authors. (The name ironically rhymes and refers to the Hungarian word analfabéta - meaning illiterate, a common offense against comics readers in the past.) It is presented at the Hungarian Comics Festival every spring.
Between 2005 and 2009, Kepregeny.net gave place to the annual audience polls. These covered many more topics, not only Hungarian comics, but also translated materials, journalists, etc.
Comic publications fall into one or more of the following three distributional categories: newsstands, bookstores, alternative (similar to direct market). Comics have been shifting towards bookstores since 2004, and the alternative market is widening every year.
Traditionally, comics were sold at newspaper stands. Since 2003, most publishing companies decided to release their comics to the bookstore market. A major exception from this is the group of children's comics and children's magazines. Since 2006 magazines based on cartoon characters and containing gadgets flooded the market. Due to these publications, newspaper stand comics still account for 55.7% of the comics published that year.
Since 2004-2005 smaller publishing companies have targeted the bookstores for its conditions better suit comic book publishing: smaller copy number required to cover the network, products are longer time in market compared to newspaper stands. (In Hungary a book's average "rotational index" is 1.5, meaning that it takes one and a half years until a book is sold on the market.). In 2003 - about one or two years before the trend started - only 8.6% of the comics published were distributed through bookstores, while 89.7% were sold at newspaper stands. In 2009 these ratios changed drastically: 28.67% of the comics published were purchasable at bookstores, and 55.67% of the comic books accessible at the newsstands. The number of books sold at bookstores grew 8.6 times, while the number of comic books distributed through the newspaper chains grew 1.6 times since 2003. As pointed out previously, not only the number of comics differ between comics sold at newspaper stands and bookstores, but their content, audience, format and prices. (The average price of a comic book at a newspaper stand in 2009 was 716.8 HUF, a bookstore comics' average price was 2177.8 HUF.)
This of course counter-reacts to the type and format of comics published today. For example, after Panini's comic book series Hihetetlen Pókember (Amazing Spiderman) folded in January 2008, a smaller company, Kingpin continued the series at the bookstores in tpb format.
Képregény Nagyker (Comics Wholesale) as a middle-chain helps the large number of smaller companies reach the bookstores effectively. The company also represents the publishing companies at book fares and some other events.
This form covers comic book stores, comics events, direct ordering from the publisher, and shops directly connected with the publisher.
Not only self-published fanzines and comic books, but most small publishing companies rely on this distributional form, since the bookstore distributional system's 45-55% share (wholesale company + bookstore or bookstore chain together) can be reduced or in some cases even eliminated. Another reason why Hungarian publishers prefer direct sales is that the Hungarian bookshop distributional system is based on commission system, where the publisher is not paid in advance by the distributor, only after the sold pieces, while at an event the publisher receives substantial income immediately. This makes larger direct discounts possible, therefore many fans choose to buy their comics at larger comics events (typically the "börze"-s, festivals). This together leads to a yearly routine, where most companies time their publications to the aforementioned larger events. Comics exclusively distributed through alternative methods put out a large portion of the overall number of the comic books published. In 2009 this ratio was 15.67%. The ratio of Hungarian comics published through this distributional form is conspicuously high: in 2009 59.6% of the comics in this network were of Hungarian origin, while 68.3% of the Hungarian comics published were only available through alternative distribution. Therefore, this distributional system is regarded as the primary source for domestic comics.
Hungarian stores specializing in comic books are relatively rare, and are usually based on comic book import. Since the mid nineties a handful (1-4) of shops in Budapest have been serving the fan needs exceeding the variety provided by Hungarian publishers (not counting online shops and shops with only a complementary profile of comics). Eduárd képregénybolt (Eduárd comics store) was the first specializing in Hungarian comics and had the widest variety of small print number, self-published comic books. The store closed in 2009, two years after its opening. As of January 2011, Trillian (specializing in current American and Manga titles) can be regarded as the most stable shop, running since 2004.
Note: the following list contains people who have/had Hungarian heritage but were not involved directly in the Hungarian comics scene. This list is to be regarded as trivia.
Before the merging both series were published monthly (or 10 times a year). Furthermore Superman's was quite strange, since every contained one and a half stories. It went pretty bad for both. My original advice was to have 3 monthly Marvel and 2 DC series, these were supposed to be Spider-Man, X-Men, Marvel Extra, Superman and Batman and a "DC Extra". The directory took some of my advices (by the way between my these were the cancelling of some children comic books and Phantom, which happened), and some others - as we know - they didn't. When I found out, that Superman and Batman is going to be bi-monthly, I thought I'd lose my religion.
For the time being, the sixth issue will be the last of the series. We have to see whether the new concept of cutting the print number 50% and raising the price will work. The price of 990 HUF was unreal right at the start, but we hoped that this might raise the number of selling. That's not what happened.[dead link]
Ugyanakkor meggyőződésem, hogy egy igazán "korszerű" új magyar képregény tudna előbb kultikus, majd tömeges népszerűségre szert tenni. Láthattuk, hogy a Napirajz is mennyire megmozgatta a népeket. De ennél több kell az áttöréshez. Nagyon várom már azt az új magyar képregényt, amelyet olyan lelkesedéssel fogadnak, mint a legújabb Rejtő-Korcsmáros újrakiadást.
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Burbank was a renovated and renewed city, and in Belmont Village he found other Hungarians, heard the folk songs and stories he hadn't heard and longed for through decades.
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This list contains reading material in languages other than Hungarian (Hungarian material can be found in References)