Henriette Valium & Comics in Macedonia
( February 5, 2014 ) When Last Gasp received a comics collection from Canadian artist Henriette Valium this month, my first thought was, "WHOA". My second thought was - "What is this crazy ass title? Is it Russian?". Turns out, it's Macedonian, from a new comics publisher called Crna Hronika.
The heavy black lines and psychotic detailing of Henriette Valium's comics demand attention, weeding out any casual readers. In regard to style, Valium is like the bastard love child of S. Clay Wilson and Derf Backderf as raised by Le Dernier Cri. The twisted psychedelic violence of Valium's stories might not sit well with the socially conscious or faint of heart, but you other sickos will dig it.
How did this weird Canadian comic art find its way to Macedonia? We interviewed Crna Hronika founder, Bruno Jovanovski, to find out a little bit more about how this book came to be.
What's the comics scene like in Macedonia (other publishers? artists?)? Do you have a local comics shop in Skopje?
The comic scene in Macedonia is not good. There aren't many publishers(I don't know if there is any other publisher) and every new comic book that is published is supported by Ministry of Culture or the City.
There's no other independent publisher except Crna Hronika. The only artist that is worth to be mentioned is the underground artist Goran Dacev (Gorand). His comics and illustrations are great and he has a quite unique style of drawing. You should check him out, he has been drawing comics since the 90's. He doesn't have a website , but you can check his stuff on his Facebook page.
There is only one comic shop in Skopje. It's called Bunker.
What made you decide to start publishing comics?
I was into drawing since I was a little boy. Me and my cousin use to draw a lot when we were kids. We loved Dragonball Z and use to draw comic books with those characters.
I love comics. I grew up with Alan Ford. Later I found Dylan Dog. After that I got infected with Robert Crumb's comics and some other underground comics that I can find in Macedonia or the Balkans. Now I'm working on my own comic and want to publish artists that I like.
What attracted you to Valium's work?
First time I saw Valium's comics was at my dear friend's house. I don't know how they got here in Macedonia , but he had 3 big comics all silkscreen printed. I never saw anything like it - the drawings, the silkscreened pages, the size of the comics - the whole package is amazing!
I love Valium's art. It's so unique - the style of drawing, the stories of his personal demons, the whole psychedelic look. I think that Valium will be truly recognized and much more respected after we are all gone. This instant world can't recognize his brilliance! Let's hope that the future will, this world doesn't give him the credit that he deserves. He's a great ARTIST! And if you think that his comics are good, you should also check his paintings and art collages.
How much of Golem Uspeh is new material?
This is a collection of 30 years work, something like a "Best of". I think that everything was published before, except for the 10-color page story Lacher de cheins. It's a hardcover book with 88 pages, 32 of which are in color.
What's next for Crna Hronika?
Next on Crna Hronika is Mike Diana's book Fire Brat and I'm working on a "magazine" called:
The magazine will be in English, only the title is in Macedonian.
You can get in touch with Crna Hronika on Facebook.