A Different Kind of Comic Heroism
Over 40 years after its publication, Magna Purga – the work of illustrator and photographer Kostja Gatnik – remains a classic of Slovene comic books.
Slovenia might not be a superpower in comic production, but its small population has nevertheless included a few remarkable artists. Kostja Gatnik is one of them. Magna Purga, a comic book featuring his works, is a classic. Even though it was made in different times, its messages remain up to date and when found on a bookshelf it quickly attracts the attention of youngsters.
If Miki Muster is the Slovenian Disney, then Gatnik is perhaps Slovenia’s Robert Crumb. His style is tough to define, however. Call it “third generation of comic artists”, alternative, or underground. Its most distinctive element is variation in artistic expression with elements of pop-art, and a solid dose of appealing, smart (black) humour. His heroes are either everymen in the most trivial situations, or parodied folk heroes and super heroes (James Bond becomes Janez Blond).
In addition to the cult Magna Purga, Gatnik has created a wide opus of illustrations, graphics, paintings, photographs and magazine covers. He is viewed as a humble, hidden genius of the art scene. After illustrating more than 80 books, a number of record covers, posters, labels and industrial packages, he has left a huge impact on the country’s visual imagery. On the popular level, the images he has created are actually more recognisable than his name. Gatnik has been nothing less than the illustrator of Slovenia’s contemporary history.