Legend has it that Dalibor Talajić Talaja, Ivan Prlić Prle, Tihomir Tikulin Tico and Ana Marinković came up with the idea to start an international festival that would host world-famous comic artists in Zagreb whilst they were riding a train back from the Vinkovci comic festival in the late 1990s. These students and comic artists, who had been gathering around some of the well known domestic fanzines of the time such as Endem and Stripoholic, started getting various gigs at the cult radio station Radio 101, one of them being the creation of the satirical magazine Bruh, but they also carried out their festival plans. And so, in 1998, Crtani Romani Šou was born, with the late great comic artist Edvin Biukovic (1966-1999) christening it after his comic called the Funny Comics Show.
The first edition was held at KIC, the Cultural and Information Center on Preradovićeva Street, and its first guest was the renowned Italian artist Ivo Milazzo, co-author of the western-style comic book series Ken Parker. Since then, the festival has hosted the most significant comic artists and authors of today. In the last 20 years, at the Crtani Romani Šou, almost everything has changed – apart from the unwritten basic concept, which has always been the promotion of comics as a mass medium intended for the widest audience. The festival organizers, both former and present, have remained consistent in the idea that comics are to be read widely; they are not a subculture and so should be present daily and available to everyone.
The visual identity of the festival has changed considerably, too; from the early creation of Tihomir Tikulin Tico, with the first catalog designed by Bruketa & Žinić, in the post-modern style of the nineties, through Tico’s more elaborated logo, to the logo by Danijel Žeželj. The festivals catalogs, posters, T-shirts and other materials were designed by various authors and their designs have, over the years, been enriched and complemented by illustrations by festival artist guests.
The organizers also changed, so after the original founders stepped back 10 years ago, the festival was taken over by its present-day director Slaven Gorički and his associates. The Crtani Romani Šou Association that they lead promotes “the ninth art” and brings together comic art and comic culture lovers throughout the region.
Year after year, free of charge, the Association presents new releases to the public, exhibits artwork by top international authors and publishers, and offers visitors a chance to mingle and socialize with local and foreign comic authors and artists alike. Along with the Crtani Romani Šou festival, the association organizes drawing workshops, talks, seminars, humanitarian auctions, and exhibitions of top Croatian artists with the aim of creating a deliberate visual identity of Croatian ninth art and promoting the festival and the Croatian comic book scene abroad. The association also publishes comic books and thus champions unknown authors both domestically and abroad. In the past decade, the festival has served as a platform for young talents to learn more about the publishing process, to receive constructive feedback of their own work and to feed off the motivating atmosphere at the festival to continue drawing comics and thriving, which many have already done, achieving world-wide success.
In 2017, for its 20th birthday, Crtani Romani Šou has been “rebranded” to Zagreb Comic Con, since its foreign guests, unable to pronounce Crtani Romani Šou, have been calling it that for years. The new name reflects its international character as well as the synergy of comic art with other media. In its 25st edition, Crtani Romani Šou / Zagreb Comic Con 2022 wishes to provide an inclusive platform for all consumers of various cultural and popular art forms, and most of all, it wants to remain the main gathering spot for all comic book lovers, young and old!