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The man and the line: Monographyc study of the work of animator, cartoonist and comics author Nedeljko Dragic
University West, Department of Economics and IT, Division of Media and Design.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7111-9661
2014 (English)Book (Other academic)Alternative title
Covjek i linija : Monografska studija o djelu filmskog animatora, karikaturista i autora stripa Nedeljka Dragica (Croatian)
Abstract [en]

Nedeljko Dragic is without doubt one of the most important creators not only in the Zagreb School of animation but of cartoon films in general, if we accept this term as designating a particular subspecies within the medium of the animated image. However, because of several factors, not unimportant among them the author’s personal bohemian and nonchalant attitude to his work, his films and his other works have not to date been adequately studied.

Dragic’s film animation, and also his comic strips and cartoons, are works of great complexity and stratified symbolism. Instead of treating animated artificial movement as a mimetic reflection of reality, as the great majority of his colleagues worldwide does, Dragic was practically from the beginning of his career interested in the concept of idea in motion, thought brought to life, visual anthropology and, especially topical in our time, documentary animation. For Dragic the viewer is an active consumer, and for him the act of projection is inter-sub- jective communication, an approach that has only become customary in our post- modern time. This, of course, is not the result of coincidence but of the intuition of an author who is turned to the future with all the force of his creative energy.

This is why I decided on a combined form of monograph and author study, with emphasis on scholarly analysis and contextualisation in film history, not on the kind of text that is usually tailored to suit books of this kind. Therefore, the aim and purpose of this book is to lay an analytical foundation for the definitive contextualisation and evaluation of Nedeljko Dragic’s work in Croatian culture, and the development of the animation medium on the global level.

I planned the book on several levels, where each chapter takes us one step further towards some aspect of Dragic’s opus, unaffected by time and still as interesting and provocative today at it was about half a century ago, when the majority of his works were created.

The introductory chapter is a collection of personal notes about meetings with Nedeljko DragiÊ and the birth of the idea about this book, a process that lasted for decades.

The second chapter focuses on Dragic the cartoonist, because, in my opinion, it was in this activity that all the preconditions developed which crucially determined the aesthetics of his animated films. Dragic the artist grew out of the modern cartoon, a tradition that differed comple- tely from the idea about the cartoon as a comical drawing, a drawn joke. The modern cartoon, whose prominent representative Saul Steinberg greatly influenced the formation of Dragic’s worldview as an author, is in the first place stamped by a wealth of symbolism and a great ran- ge of subjects which include practically all the basic philosophical issues about man and his world. Dragic’s experiences as a cartoonist fundamentally determin- ed him as a cineaste, animator, satirist and creator in general, sensitive to some of the basic moral issues of our time.

The third chapter deals with the history of the contacts between and intertwining of comics and animation as a context for understanding Dragic’s work. In this chapter analysis focuses on the comic Tupko, which Dragic made for Vecernji list and which functions as a bridge notonly between his cartoons and films, but also serves to bring his entire opus toget- her into a coherent whole.

The fourth chapter is a presentation of Nedeljko Dragic’s films, based on his personal attitude to each of them and showing characteristic excerpts from their critical reception.

To completely understand the value of Dragic’s work, it must in my opinion be placed in the context of film history and global modernist processes in the animation medium, in the evolution of which an essential stage belongs to the phenomenon known as the Zagreb School. This is the purpose and ambition of the fifth chapter of the book. Dragic’s films grew out of and belong to the modernist wave that swept through animation from America after the 1940s and 1950s. This period brought a new trend in cartoon films, characterised by a different sensibility both in visual stylisation and approach to animation. This new current, known as limited animation in older film literature, meant a radical move away not only from the so-called Disney model but also from what was, for example, being created by Avery, Jones, Tashlin and other prominent authors in the Warner Bros. studio. Some important circumstances influenc- ed this development of animation, such as the war, change of lifestyle, industrialisation, the appearance of television, which soon became the main distributor of the animated picture, modern design and art in general. All these tendencies, after an initial spur from the United States, found fertile soil in, among other places, the Zagreb Animation Studio, and Nedeljko Dragic was one of the leading promoters and practicians of this trend.

A precondition for any attempt to interpret Dragic’s work is the establishment of precise analytical instruments on which this analysis can be based. The- refore, the sixth chapter deals with animation semiotics, which has so far hardly ever appeared in its pure form, at least not in texts in languages that I know. I derived here this barely existent scholarly discipline from the relatively well-established film semiotics, because of the kind- red nature of the moving picture in animation and film (photography), whose basic characteristics are highly coincidental. I also see a reason for this approach in the fact that film semiotics often treat animation in a rather confused and contradictory manner. I will build a specific model for interpreting Dragic’s animation in the first place on the basis of the work of Yuri Lotman, an Estonian structuralist semiotician.

The final chapter of the book is a long and detailed interview with Dragic himself, who comments all the essential issues concerning his work, the Zagreb School and animation in general from his own point of view.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Zagreb: Croatian Film Association , 2014. , p. 416
Keywords [en]
Animation, cartoon, comics, film
National Category
Humanities
Research subject
HUMANITIES, Cinematography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-6213ISBN: 978-953-7033-44-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-6213DiVA, id: diva2:715917
Available from: 2014-05-07 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2015-06-24Bibliographically approved

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