Jonathan Bousfield: Welcome to Hofbauerland

The publication of comic-strip collection Mister Morgen confirms Igor Hofbauer’s status as the unrivalled master of Croatian grotesque.
While Hofbauer’s poster designs represent a playful exercise in trash horror, his narrative strips are a much darker affair, featuring tales of obsession, anguish, and impending apocalypse.


Graphic artist Igor Hofbauer has long been considered one of Zagreb’s most eloquent visual spokesmen, producing posters, murals, book-cover designs and club flyers that conjure up a darkly seductive image of his native city. What’s increasingly apparent is that he is also one of the country’s leading practitioners of short fiction, a status confirmed by the graphic-novella collection Mister Morgen, out this month courtesy of Paris-based publisher L’Association.

Summoning a twilight world of abandoned hotels, sexual obsession and urban paranoia, the book cements Hofbauer’s reputation as one of the leading figures of the European graphic underground. Printed on thick matt paper, Hofbauer’s retro-sci-fi-constructivism-noir artwork serves as a compelling introduction to a distinctive visual universe.

Hofbauer’s literary potential has been obvious ever since the emergence of Prison Stories (published in Croatian by Otompotom) in 2007, a woozily narcotic collection that showcased an ambiguous and unnerving narrative style. Prison Stories is nowadays something of a cult title among the graphic-novella cognoscenti – the number of people who claim to own a copy far exceeds the 300 that were actually printed.

Bringing Hofbauer’s comic-strip work to a wider audience was Crimson Lagoon (the grotesque tale of an Adriatic-based holiday dystopia co-scripted by the author of these lines), serialized in four parts by Croatian magazine Globus in summer 2015.

Horned man at the crossroads

It’s with the design of posters and flyers for alternative club Močvara that the Hofbauer story really starts. Throughout the late 1990s and the early 2000s, his eye-catchingly phantasmagorical designs were a ubiquitous feature of Zagreb’s once-flourishing street-poster scene. As Močvara’s co-founder Kornel Šeper explains: “The first concert we ever organized was on November 29 1996 and was called ‘Day of the Republic of Noise’. We invited Igor to design a poster for us because we knew him and liked him; we hadn’t actually seen any of his work. He gave us two different designs – one with a monkey dancing on its head, another showing a horned man standing at a highway crossroads – and we used them both. He turned out to the best possible artist we could have chosen. He was humorous, he was different, he was absurd. Which was exactly what we needed.”

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How Are You? by Barbara Matejčić, a review


"From time to time, a literary work would appear that would succeed in giving a voice to the voiceless ones. How Are You?, an excellent collection of short stories by a Croatian journalist and writer Barbara Matejčić, is one of these literary works.
The author has spent a period of her life with her characters, being with them, helping them and listening to their stories, and her method is hence intrinsically one typical of investigative journalism."
Saša Ilić,


Tea Tulić: The Hair is everywhere (Selection)


Tea Tulić was born in Rijeka (Croatia) in 1978. Her work was published in various Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian and Slovenian literature and cultural magazines including McSweeney’s from San Francisco. In 2011, she won Prozak, a literary award for the best young author’s manuscript, which resulted in publication of her first book, a fragmentary novel Kosa posvuda (Hair Everywhere). The novel received numerous positive reviews and was included in the top five prose books of the 2011 by Vijesnik daily newspaper, The Croatian Ministry of Culture awarded it as one of the best prose books in 2011. Hair Everywhere is also translated and published in UK, Italy, Macedonia and Serbia. In 2014. in cooperation with the musical collective Japanski Premijeri, she published spoken word album Albumče on Bandcamp.
She is a jury member of international short prose competition Lapis Histrae and a member of RiLit, a non-formal group of writers from Rijeka. Her new novel “Maksimum jata” (Flock’s maksimum) is recently published.

CM extensions

Film festivals in Croatia

The Croatian Audiovisual Centre currently co-finances 59 film festivals and other audiovisual events. These serve various functions: they are particularly important for promoting Croatian audiovisual creation and serve as a platform for screening artistic content and non-commercial film forms, which makes them relevant on a local, regional, national and, in some cases, international level.


The Little Black Egg: a punk excursion to Croatia

"It’s called Rijecki Novi Val. (Novi Val is Croatian for New Wave.) This is one of the best collections of anything I ever acquired. Punk and New Wave were huge in the Balkans. I said it once, and I’ll say it again: the ex-YU countries are responsible for the some of the best punk music made anywhere."


An interview with Zdenko Franjić

Starting out in 1987, Croatian record label Slusaj Najglasnije! (or Listen Loudest!) documented many of Croatia’s greatest bands, including Majke, Hali Gali Halid, Satan Panonski, Bambi Molestors, and many others. Over time, Listen Loudest! evolved, and today releases music from artists the world around. The mastermind behind Listen Loudest, Zdenko Franjic, has been kept his label/life mission together for over thirty years without a break.


20 Essential Films for an Introduction to Yugoslavian Cinema

Once upon a time there was a country, and that country made films. The films produced in the former Yugoslavia remain fascinating for anyone interested in the country or in films. This list is by no means definitive, for Yugoslav cinema is too rich and varied for that. It is rather, a primer for those unfamiliar with the region, the best bits from each era and each generation.


Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A little know fact is that Croatia, together with Spain, have the most cultural and historical heritage under the protection of UNESCO, and Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods of any European country.


Dancing under socialism: rare electronic music from Yugoslavia

In the last couple of years, various collections of electronic music from former Yugoslavia popped up, ranging from numerous downloadable CDR mixtapes to official compilation albums. Yet there are several more waiting in line to be pressed and, as you will see, these are most definitely worth waiting for.


First Croatian newspaper for asylum-seekers, refugees launched

The monthly publication was launched with the aim of establishing closer mutual trust and offering information to people who were forced to leave their homes in search of protection and security, it was said at the launch.
Most of the newspapers' authors are asylum-seekers.


Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

The National Theater in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is one of those things which always finds its way to every visitor’s busy schedule.


Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

Numerous festivals, shows and exhibitions are held annually in Zagreb. Search our what's on guide to arts & entertainment.


A History of Eastern European Matchboxes

Although they were produced under strict state-controlled production processes; that were aimed at exploiting them as a means of publicizing political initiatives, promoting public health and safety, and selling the communist ideal both at home and abroad, the artists used them as a vehicle to experiment with various imaginative ideas and artistic techniques, achieving truly stunning results.

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