Politikin Zabavnik

Background information by DiasporaTV.

Many who were born in the territory of the former Yugoslavia grew up with Politikin Zabavnik magazine, which was and remains the most popular entertaining and educational magazine. This iconic and beloved magazine for all ages, from 7 to 107, has always had phenomenal regular columns. The entertainer dealt and deals with many topics: history, art, science, music, various interesting things from life. He managed to maintain the interest of all ages for eight decades, the must-have stories in the form of comic books were read with great enthusiasm by all. It reminds many generations of their childhood, while many have not even stopped reading it.

The first issue was published on the 28th of February, 1939 and the idea was to create a magazine made up of comics and textual content such as short stories, brain teasers and trivia. According to the current editor of Politika’s Zabavnik, Zefirino Grassi, the model was an Italian children’s magazine called “Corriere dei Piccoli”.

Edition #1

In the beginning, it was printed as a daily magazine, and it was published twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. It is currently published once a week on Fridays. Since 1971, the magazine has been printed in the Latin edition, and since 1973 in the Slovenian language until 1989. After a 30-year break, it will be published again in Slovenia in 2019.

The most glorious years of the favorite entertainer were the “70s” of the last century. Then the circulation reached 300,000 copies, and today it is published in a circulation of 37,000 copies. The slogan of the magazine is “For everyone from 7 to 107”, and in 2006 it was declared a Serbian superbrand.

For eight decades, Zabavnik has changed its format, editors, illustrators, and it survives even today in the age of digital media.

  • Politika’s Zabavnik had one interruption in publication. That was during the years of the Second World War. The publication was interrupted by the bombing of Belgrade in 1941, and the last pre-war edition was published on April 4, 1941. After the end of the war, in 1952, the magazine was renewed to the joy of many readers.
  • The publisher had the exclusive right to publish Disney comics that many generations grew up with. In addition to those comics, Jim from the Jungle, The Adventures of Little Anna, Red Rider, The Adventures of Little Johnny and others were also published in the magazine. The communist regime did not look kindly on the comic and banned its publication. Comics were considered a capitalist product.
  • There is an urban legend about how the comic was returned to Zabavnik. The Athens representative of the Walt Disney company visited Yugoslavia and suggested Tito return the comic strip to the publishing house, to which Tito allegedly replied: “Why not, I love Paja Duck”.

Politikin Zabavnik was distributed through a variety of Eastern European counties, including former Yugoslavia, Slovenian, Serbia and Montenegro. A mix of color and black and white pages are found within the comic magazine, with a variety of comic book characters published alongside general interest articles, puzzle pages, classifieds and advertisements.

The Phantom was published heavily in Politikin Zabavnik, both on the front cover and in comic strips within the comic magazine.

The Phantom first makes an appearance on the 25th of July, 1969 in edition number 917, published by Politika, with a 32 page supplement provided complimentary. A second Phantom supplement would follow in the same year, with edition number 925. Both supplements contain loose unstapled black and white pages, measuring 22cm x 30.1cm. These 2 editions can be seen below, with the Phantom appearing in a green costume.

The first Phantom comic strip to appear within Politikin Zabavnik would be in edition number 944, published on the 30th of January, 1970. The Phantom story, ‘The Hanta Witch’ by Lee Falk and Sy Barry is published within.

The first time we see the Phantom appear on the front cover of a Politikin Zabavnik comic magazine would be on edition number 977, published on the 18th of September, 1970. An image of the Phantom appears in the top right hand side of the front cover.

Phantom comic strip stories have appeared in at least 130 Politikin Zabavnik since 1939 and at least 36 times on the front cover. Earlier editions measure 25.2cm x 32.5cm, with the size reducing to 22cm x 30cm in later editions. A sample of front covers featuring the Phantom can be seen below.

Edition number 1906, published on the 8th of July, 1988 came with a free give-away, a Phantom poster attached to the centerfold of the comic magazine, in black and white, illustrated by Kari Leppänen.