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Q&A with Vassilis Chilas - full article from issue 4

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Q&A with Vassilis Chilas: Greek Creator, Illustrator, Artist, Translator, and Comic Fan


D999. I’m drinking a nice cold glass of Stella Artois beer. What are you drinking? What’s your full name, how old are you and when was the first time you saw a superhero from America?


VC. I am drinking one nice cup of fresh...water, Matt! My name is Vassilis Chilas, I am 45 years old and my first contact with the superhero genre was 39 years ago when I read my first Phantom story written by Lee Falk and drawn by Sy Barry in a, yes you guessed it right, early Kabanas mini book! For many Americans, the Phantom doesn’t count as a real superhero because he doesn’t have superpowers, but for me this is the first character with all the characteristics that define the genre. And he precedes Superman. Didn’t like much that story, but when I read the next one, with Wilson Mcoy in the art department, I went crazy for the character! I searched like a maniac for every single issue of the Phantom series that was published before and after that one!


D999. Hey, I have nothing but respect for cold glasses of water and their ability to rejuvenate the spirit! The Phantom is a very respectable introduction. As I’ve aged and learned a little more about his history I have much more respect for Lee Falk’s creation. So Kabanas was your window into the American superhero genera. Makes sense the Kabanas books have such a place in your heart. So, with the Phantom you got your first taste. Did you continue feeding when the "Rough Generation" came out? What was your first Marvel "Rough Generation" book? Also, if you may be so kind in letting me hit you with dual questions! Thinking a bit about your future concerning your translating gig for a moment, at what age did you start learning English?


VC. Well Matt, my first taste of the "Rough Generation" books was two years later with a "(Greek text)" book that contained a Howard the Duck (Steve Gerber/John Buscema), a Red Sonja (Frank Thorne) and a Two-Gun-Kid story. Let me first tell you, that I already was an avid fan of comics. I collected almost everything that was published in those days that was of Italian or French origin the most but my favorite remained, of course, the Phantom. I loved greatly the Popeye strip by Bud Saggendorf from Dragounis Publishing as well. So, I’ll say this: After I finished the (Greek Text) book, I couldn’t even touch the European stuff anymore. For me all that was kid’s stuff now, I was in love with that gorgeous Sonja, and I started like crazy to collect everything with the imprint "Marvel" on it! After a few months I collected all the books that preceded (Greek Text) # 3 and there wasn’t a single issue that came out after (Greek Text) that I did’t buy at least two copies of! I was a Marvel Zombie and I didn’t even know it! I must also tell you that in my school, that was of French interests, they were only teaching French for a foreign language. English was almost unknown for me then. So I started private lessons to learn the language of my beloved heroes at the age of 12, this was way after other kids in school started learning English. My only reason for doing this was to finally learn to read this stuff from the source because even then I knew how terrible the translations were on the Kabanas books.


D999. Ahhhhh the Greek (Howard the Duck)"(Greek Text)" issue #3 actually used the Marvel Howard the Duck issue #3 cover right? The great one with "Master of Quack Foo" on it, while Howard jumps in frame with a cigar in his mouth! I don’t think Marvel could get away with letting any of their characters smoke on a cover nowadays with the anti-smoking stigma. So are you telling me you asked your parents for English lessons so you could read American comic books? I find it extremely interesting as well that as a young child you became "zombified" as a result of what Marvel was doing and that there was that much of a difference in what American comics were doing at the time compared to the rest of the world. Even with bad translation you could tell the difference in tone I guess. Maybe with the loosening up of the CCA during the Bronze Age here in America and the continuation of more adult themes this captured your attention. Is this why Kabanas chose to use the marketing slogan "Rough Generation"? Very fascinating stuff Vassilis. Where did you purchase your Kabanas books? Newsstands being the main avenue in Greece for comics? Also, were many of your friends following you into "zombification" or were you on a solo mission? And one more question since Howard had his own Political party in the comics and from my understanding actually received write in votes during the U.S. Presidential Election of 1976. After the ruling military junta collapsed in Greece in the early 70’s, I have read that there was a strong anti-American sentiment that persisted into the early 80’s. Im guessing because America supported the junta politically. Is this anti-American sentiment true and did this have any effect on the success of the Marvel/Kabanas books?


VC. Ahhh, those were the times! And it’s a surprise of course, but the covers on (Greek Text) matched the inside material! I think that I was lucky to stumble on this masterpiece, Howard the Duck #3, where Gerber tried to satirize the Kung Fu mania in general and the Master of Kung Fu series in particular. I even had written an extended critique some years back for a greek site that specializes in American comics (www.comicdom.gr) on that particular issue. But I think that Marvel in the 70’s had many masterpieces published, there were so many great creators working for them. Maybe I get nostalgic but even nowadays I consider the 70’s Marvels, the most diverse and influential comics of all time. So I couldn’t help but get hooked! You must not forget that Kabanas published many of the black and white Marvel magazines that contained some very adult material, because they lacked the Comics Code! I still remember vividly Red Sonja’s raping, drawn by Howard Chaykin, published in a (Greek Text) issue. I was buying my comics exclusively from newsstands. I was a minority in a school where 99% of the kids were reading comics but very few of them were Marvels. I think they were too sophisticated for them, these kids were used to much simpler stuff. I remember many friends saying to me "I don’t understand any of this shit! You really read it?"


D999. Vasilis, no wonder the "Rough Generation" label could be applied when Kabanas books were publishing both American comic and magazine output! Was their a authority in Greece like the CCA here in the States, to monitor publications steered towards youths or was it a wild-west situation for the publishers? I will wait for your response on the political situation, I find it intriguing that there could be some consequences of American foreign policy having some effect on the acceptance of American licensed material.


VC. Well, as for the political issue… it is a fact that anti-Americanism in Greece has its roots in those junta days where freedom, on any level, was canceled and the nation paid severely after the Turkish invasion with thousands of Cypriot refugees fleeing in the southhern part of the island and the motherland Greece. The poor sales of Kabanas’ Marvels though happened exclusively because the material was way beyond the standards of the common comics reader of those days, primary school kids. If the publisher aimed from the start at a more adult audience and had some respect for it maybe the result would have been different. In 1981 though another magazine started its run in Greece, a magazine created specifically for adults. It was called Babel and collected material only from politically driven European magazines like the Italian Linus and Frigidaire or the French Hara-Kiri and a couple of underground American creations. It wasn’t the first of its kind but it was the most consistent with great respect for their readers, good to perfect translations and a very innovative art department. It also presented some of the greatest European comics of all time. But that great magazine carried an equally great flaw: it hated, as was to be expected, the American mainstream comics, especially the superhero comics. So, in the following years, a strange theory was adopted through fragments of many articles that were hosted inside the magazine and in the minds of some of the Greek comic artists that published their work there. A theory, that even I, who had collected all of the Babel issues had never thought possible that anyone could believe in, that I’ ll try to describe with a few words: "The superhero mythology was created in the shadow of Nietzsche’s superman theory, a theory that had fascist and racist characteristics all in the service of capitalism and the US’s global dominance!" It’s contradictory I know but I heard it with my own ears and I saw it written with my own eyes, especially 10 years ago, when a comic book written by myself came out that presented the first Greek superhero team. That absurd theory got thin over the years but it surely proved, to me at least, that the political aspect of comics is not a matter that anyone can ignore and that anti-Americanism, even today, is still going strong among some of my compatriots. And no Matt, there was never any authority in Greece to monitor anything after the damned junta fell. You could see a pornographic comic next to a Disney comic and no one ever complained! We are completely insane here in Greece you must know! We get mad for nothing and we sleep peacefully when our home is in flames!


D999. You are absolutely correct Vasilis! You cannot ignore the interweaving of politics and comics. Especially when a funny book is being exported out of its country of origin to be defined, reworked, and translated by another nations citizens. There has to be a political element to comics because quite simply they are time capsules of culture which in turn represents a specific nation or peoples at any given time. But I digress, not wanting to devote to many precious words to foreign policy/politics discussion because I would rather discuss the "god is dead guy" and comics! LOL So my friend, I am definitely no philosopher though what person in their youth didn’t find an attraction to some of Nietzsche’s ideas? I have heard about the theory that Superman and early superheroes in general were based on the concept of "Übermensch"(superman theory). Never have I studied it in great depth, and your explanation seems perfectly reasonable. But, like you said "contradictory", and its my understanding that Nietzsche’s concept could be warped and shaped by many different movements and ideologies for their own purposes. How ironic that for some citizens of Greece at least, what I would say is Americas greatest pop culture invention (comic books), could be exported out into the world and those very superheroes would be used philosophically, symbolically, and ideologically against us in some fashion. Though I might not agree at times with the anti-American sentiment some of your fellow Greek compatriots might feel towards America I am also not naïve enough to say that I don’t understand the impetus of it. The junta had to have been terrible, and nothing compares to a lack of freedom and liberty to sour ones attitude towards anything. So you were a rebel, one of a few amongst your peers that chose to go against the grain, who understood, and loved the Marvel vision. You then moved on to underground adult-type comics and creating. Lets fast forward a bit to the beginning of your journey within the comic industry of Greece. How did you start? Were you an illustrator as well or only a writer? What was your first comic creation? Oh, and also I have to address this. Disney books could share a shelf with porn mags?


VC. In my school days I thought that I was the greatest artist of all time because I could imitate almost perfectly the most crowded Gil Kane covers, something none of my friends or schoolmates could ever do. It was a talent that impressed the girls too! So, as you can understand, I made my own complete 20 page comic story at a very early age, I think at 10, and my first creation was (what else?) a Greek superhero! As the years passed, I honed my skills in drawing and writing, and by the middle 80’s I had finished a 6 page story that, in my mind, was publishable. The sole problem was that as a superhero / science fiction kind of story there wasn’t any place for it. In the meantime, about 1986, Mammoth started to publish some Marvel material that was totally different from Kabanas, in the quality department, and I‘ll say no more on that! So I started to write fan letters to Mammoth. The guys there must have been impressed by my passion because they asked me to write some articles for the superhero comics scene, which I did. This was my first official involvement in comics. Later, in 1987, I served in the Greek army. In those two years I realized that even the right coloring and translation weren’t enough for a Marvel book to thrive in Greece! The bad name that Kabanas had given these comics was ever present and the Mammoth sales were very low from the beginning. The publisher had cancelled all their books except for the X-Men book, that sold better. The problem was that their first good translator had left and he was replaced by some guy that maybe took English lessons from his friends at Kabanas. The man was terrible, to say the least, but the publishers were too busy with other more profitable books to notice their error. Somewhere in the 1990s I decide to take action: I wrote two letters, one to Kabanas and the other to Mammoth where I explained how much happier everyone would be if they hand me over the translator duties. The Mammoth guys gave me the position one week later after they actually read the recent translations and got the laugh (and cry) of their life. On the other hand I got a call about a month later from the Kabanas graphic artist who was responsible for everything except the translation in the Spider-Man book. The guy, after he confessed to me his lack of knowledge about the Marvel material and his love for the adult Babel material, proposed to let me translate the book but without payment. There wasn’t any profit during the last few years from the book he complained. That was the Kabanas way, I realized that fateful day! I continued translating for Mammoth’s X-Men and almost immediately they left me to do the rest, like answering fan letters, ordering the next Marvel material, choosing the cover from the three inside stories that each issue contained, even drawing the story titles and doing some inside and cover lettering. I was the full editor of the magazine and I had the time of my life! In the meantime, Kabanas broke his contract with Marvel (1992), so the Spider-Man and other popular titles like Captain America, Hulk and Avengers, were free for the taking. I convinced the editors to enrich their line with another book that contained some of these milestone titles that Kabanas had left available. So the Greek Font came out in 1993 but it was a short-lived book, it only lasted for one year (24 issues) and the really bad news was that it took with it, into the abyss, the more successful X-Men book. So that was the end of Mammoth’s involvement with Marvel and mine with Mammoth.


D999. Wonderful! I love a good story where the talented guy gets the chick or in your case chicks in the plural! I’m looking forward to seeing some of your illustration work. Did that original Greek superhero story ever get published anywhere? By the late 80’s Mammoth received the license to do some additional Marvel stuff while Kabanas still held the Spider-Man rights. I have always found it odd how competing publishers in foreign countries could hold license rights to the same comic universes content. You would think in order to maintain a uniform quality the Big 2 would limit the license to one publisher only per country, language, etc. Money talks I guess, or screams for the licensing departments of the Big 2. You can definitely tell Mammoth put more effort in reproducing the art and design in their books but even with the better art direction it still seems like the environment the comics were being released into was pretty toxic as far sales go. Too bad really, but like you stated earlier the Marvel material just didn’t resonate, it seems, with the average comic reader in Greece. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding, I’m generalizing here, but if you read comics in Greece during the 70’s and 80’s you were either into the adult/political/underground Babel material or the more escapist simple story lines of a traditional child’s comic. No wonder the Marvel Greek books from this period seem so hard to source, they weren’t really loved. I bet a lot of them ended up in trash bins. So as a Marvel zombie took it upon yourself to facilitate the translation of the Marvel content in order to help bridge the cultural gap between the superhero stories you loved and a wider Greek audience. "Wow" is the first thing that comes to my mind. Passion can and will drive us to do amazing things. The Mammoth/Kabanas guys were right in letting you into their organizations. I’m telling you Vasilis, it is my humble opinion that you deserve some kind of tour of the Marvel facilities and a meet and greet with some of the guys at Marvel if not Stan the Man himself. This is why I have become obsessed with the foreign side of the comics world. The stories and people I am learning about deserve their time in the comic journalistic sun. With the many people you were involved with there in the Greek comic industry, do you stay in contact with any of them? Is there a journalistic avenue where the stories of the Greek comic industry are heralded? Now, I would be doing my readers a disservice if I didn’t ask you to speak to the process of taking Marvel content and transforming it into a comic book that sits on a Greek newsstand. Artwork and translation process’s are very interesting, can you go into how this worked a bit? Also, what were the average print runs of Kabanas and also Mammoth books?


VC. You got that right Matt. Most Greeks at that time period (70’s and 80’s) started reading comics from the age of six, stopped reading them when they got 12 to 14 years old at the most, and later in their lives some of them were reintroduced to comics at the age of 19-25 I guess via the Babel material. The Marvel stuff wasn’t anywhere in between except for the minds and hearts of a few fanatics, like myself. I was, and am, a sweet guy, but not so sweet as to accept Kabanas’s completely unacceptable proposal. (Oh, gosh, I don’t think Stan would want to meet me after that!) But, seriously now, I never expected any recognition from all this. My only desire was to help create a much wider audience for the comics I loved. I must add that the cause of their low popularity can also be attributed to the Marvel’s VIPs because the only thing that they were interested about was to get their check on time without ever monitoring how any of their foreign publishers presented their material. I can tell you a story here about how another great company, Dargaud from France, handled very differently a not so-similar case. Back in 1978, a Greek publisher named Psaropoulos (known for his DC Superman, Batman line of comics) started to publish the Asterix comic albums. That guy’s publishing methods were the complete opposite of Kabanas’s. He printed on the finest paper, ordered the genuine films (veloxes), had an entire stuff to deal with the foreign material and even hired one of the most famous Greek writers of that time, Kostas Tachtsis, to translate the first issue. But, after the French editors read that issue they got really mad. They thought the comic book was perfect in everything except for one of their characters’ name! Obelix’s dog, Idefix, was translated as (Greek text)(Katroolix, the one that gets wet, roughly) that doesn’t mean anything bad in Greek, just that the dog is too small like a baby that gets wet. But the French guys thought that the name was too humiliating for Idefix so they sent a letter to Psaropoulos where they threatened to cancel their contract if the name wasn’t changed which it eventually did. Imagine now these guys representing Marvel and take a look at one of the common Kabanas Marvel books. I’m sure they’d instantly put Kabanas to a painful death. The Marvel guys, on the other hand, never showed any interest in the way their comics were represented. If they were lucky enough to have a publisher who respected their stuff and his own audience they never indicated it. They didn’t give a shit as long as the money rolled in. I’m not talking, of course, about the creators, but about the corporate stooges that can’t tell Lobo from the Hulk.) Here in Greece the comic creators and publishers are so few that we know each other by each others first names. Even if I tried to avoid one of them it wouldn’t be possible. The whole comic industry was always present in the next comics’ event. There’s no standard medium, printed or otherwise, that hosts regular stories or any of the history of the Greek comics scene, especially that of the old days, except maybe some story or article from members of greekcomics or comicdom sites. And, now, technically speaking, this is the way the job was done: Step 1: We ordered the material. Step 2: Marvel informed us whether or not they had the veloxes (photographic paper) available of each issue we ordered. If they didn’t, we proceeded with the next issue available. Marvel also informed us of the availability of each original issue. If they didn’t have it, they tried to acquire it from a comic book dealer and they tell us about the price we would have to pay for it. If the price was too high that was okay, we could live without it. Step 3: The veloxes and the issue, hopefully, showed up. The girls cut the large paper (8 pages each) to page-size parts and they fit the four different color shades for each page of the comic. Step 4: They scaned the film with the black lines and they electronically erase the English text. Step 5: They put the Greek text into the balloons. Step 6: They print the page with the greek text and cut off the balloons with it. Step 7: They glue the greek text balloons on the pages and they put together the letters pages and other articles. Step 8: I came in to review the work. Any mistakes that I spotted were corrected. Step 9: The book, veloxes and all, went to the printer. Step 10: The book went to the press agency that did the distribution. Step 11: From there the book went to the newsstands!


D999. The Kabanas publisher sure knew how to do the least possible to get those books out for sure. How ironic that with that lack of concern for quality it created, at least to American eyes, such a novel and wonderful little hodge podge of books. I can tell you honestly that of all the books in my foreign collection, the Marvel Kabanas books hold a special place in my heart. So Idefix got to keep his name intact! A little wet dog is the perfect metaphor for how the American publishers treated their characters abroad in the early days from my research. It’s unbelievable the stuff the licensing departments were doing, or not doing. Like a dog left out in the rain the intellectual properties were left to fend for themselves it seems. But, like I stated above, many of the older foreigns were special because of this lack of oversight. These older "wet dog" foreigns seem to be better as anthropological objects for the study of the cultures and countries that produced them. That being said, the Mammoth stuff is pretty damn cool I can tell you. You see a huge jump in quality going from the Kabanas to Mammoth. I applaud your tenacity for making every attempt at quality. I’d like to think Stan might be interested in meeting you anyway. A Marvel zombie holding his own in the ancient land of Greece probably would be more interesting to him than your average con goers he has seen for the millionth time here in the States. I’m very interested in the creation process. Were the presses in the same building as the editorial offices? What was the atmosphere like? Was it fun going to work and did you get a real kick out of seeing your work on every newsstand in Greece? And the next question is coming as purely a collector of rare foreign books. Are there file copies still in existence?


VC. -No, Matt, the presses were in another building. Mammoth didn’t own such equipment, but Kabanas did (All the worse for them)! I didn’t mention that I was an outside collaborator, which means that I was in the Mammoth office about five to six days per month. One day to make the order, one day to take the issues for the translation (originals or photocopies of the films), one day to deliver the translations, two days to monitor and edit the issues. Sometimes though I had to come, outside the regular schedule to explain things to the staff, to solve problems like too much text in balloons that needed to be cut – greek words are much longer than English ones, so sometimes they didn’t fit properly in the balloons, which we preferred to leave intact. The environment was so cozy. The publishers, Panos and Yorgos, two guys with a great knowledge about the comics medium trusted me enough to let me do anything with the books, having only a minimal amount of interference. I remember only three or four times when they complained about something, and they were right. We had so many conversations about comics and I learned many things by them. The staff was four girls, with the oldest one, Mache doing letterering, another, Irene, did more of desk work. We had two more girls for the graphic department but neither of them lasted more than six months and they were replaced by others that didn’t stay long either and they were also replaced eventually. We also had a guy that was the accountant. I remember having sort of a fight with one of girls, I can’t remember her name. I had rejected some of her graphic work but we later made amends. The day I remember the most was when Yorgos decided to give away all the American original issues that they had more than one of because there wasn’t enough space for them anymore. You can guess who was the lucky one to get those babies! It was very exciting to have your name printed below that of John Byrne and Roy Thomas and John Buscema and the list goes on. I didn’t actually work with them but I thought that I had some small part in the whole creating process even if it was only for the Greek audience. File copies? Hmmmm…if you’re referring to the Greek issues, I think that there may in fact be some. Mammoth always kept 2 or 3 issues of every published book but that was in the old days. But don’t worry, those books are not so difficult to be found!


D999. Ok, you didn’t get a chance to see your work running on a press. That’s too bad Vassilis, it’s a really cool thing to see. How neat though that you were able to hoard away the original American issues! Were they sent to the publisher by Marvel? It seems to me like there weren’t many people involved in the creation process. I wonder why the turnover rate was so high for the graphic artist girls there? Sounds a little bit like my experience with comics and girls in the 80’s and early 90’s, they just didn’t seem to be symbiotic. Honestly though I’m ashamed at my hiding the hobby during my young adult life for many years because of social stigma. It sure does seem like you guys worked with a shoestring budget to produce the books. I’m curious, what were the print runs for the average mammoth book while you were in charge? And at the time how much did a license to reproduce Marvel content cost? Was it a la cart or bundled? A few more questions my friend and I think we can wrap this up! In all of your time reading, being involved in the creation of and the translation of Marvel stuff did any of the story lines/canon ever change in unique or interesting ways that you remember? ’m also wondering what you are doing now? Are you still in the comic industry? If so, where can we see more of your work? Are there any questions you were hoping to answer that I didn’t get to? Please don’t hesitate to touch on subjects we might not have broached.


VC. I once visited the printing company but wasn’t there long enough to see the press working, but that’s okay, at least I got the originals!! I still have some of them I think. You know, as a paranoid fan, in the years that followed, I replaced most of these really mistreated (by the female staff) issues with others in higher grade. I do this with everything in my collection that isn’t in desirable shape. For this reason I had, a long time ago, so many copies of the Kabanas books. In the end though I sold most of the Mammoth issues to other "sick men" like me. (As I did with all of the Kabanas "eliminated duplicates" as I like to call them.) I think that the first hardcore convention, the Comicdom Con, took place in 2006 at the Athens building of the Hellenic-American Union, it’s still held there. The years before that event we had the Babel festival that was hosted in the old (renovated for exhibitions and other cultural events) Athens gas factory where as well as comics they had some music and theater events. To understand how small the Greek comics industry is let me tell you that the guys that started the Con were my colleagues in two fanzines that specialized in American comics. The Comicmania fanzine was published in 1993 and it was the first of it’s kind in Greece. As I told you before, an that convention every living soul that attended, in some way, is involved with comics in Greece, so cannot but be present. After the suspension of the Babel festival, the Comicdom Con is now the only major comics event and enjoys great publicity from the press too. The thing about the "fatality factor" of the feminine creative staff in Mammoth had to do primarily with the dispensable role women employees had for many years in Greece and secondly with the ignorance and sometimes aversion they usually shared about comics. I remember a very young girl named Elpida that was an extremely talented letterer, much better that the experienced Mache, who loved comics because her father was a pioneer letterer himself in one of the oldest greek companies that published European material. The father taught the daughter to love comics. It was a misfortune that Mammoth had just stopped useing hand written lettering, they, unfortunately, had little use for Elpida. Our print run, at the time I was with the company, was around 10,000 to 15,000 copies per issue. I can’t tell you exactly the price we paid for the license because the bosses didn’t share that little secret with me but I can tell you that it surely was not a la cart! Okay, now this is funny: we all know that Marvel doesn’t publish any kind of cursing in their comics. I don’t know why. At one point I had the crazy idea to print, without permission of course, a little curse word somewhere into two of my books. At the time some of the audience was complaining about the Greek renderings of the character’s nicknames. It was a strategy of Mammoth’s that the nicknames always be translated into Greek. It was a strategy that I gladly followed because I really enjoyed doing it. Most of the fans that complained about this were coming from the discontinued Kabanas Spider-Man book, where as we know there wasn’t a strategy for anything save to pay as little as possible, or nothing if they had the chance. I remember that these fans didn’t even take notice of the better translation, the actual colors or anything except the character names that were different from what they knew. A Spider-Man story happened where I had the opportunity to print a somewhat "dirty" word pay back in spades those unappreciative fans. It was a story which featured the marvelous villain Shocker! Shocker can most faithfully be translated in Greek as "(Greek Text)", a word that is the exact rendering of "Shocker" but is also the word we use in Greek for vibrator! By giving our villain this wonderful name I stayed faithful to my editorial duties and also sent my kind regards to my "friends" out there. I still remember Yorgos’ reaction, when the printed issue reached his hands: "What did you do? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!" He had gotten used to the low sales of our Spider-Man book so I don’t think anything bothered him anymore. As for myself, I think that I was in and out of comics so many times, unfortunately starting at a very young age, I had to follow in the family business that had little to do with comics, much like any real business in Greece, so my dream to become a full-fledged comic creator, preferably in the US, was not meant to be. In the art department specifically, with all that awesome stuff that I had absorbed from the American mainstream scene, I could never be pleased with anything less than what only a professional "self" would ever hope to produce. So I dedicated myself to comics writing and started to share my concepts with people that I appreciated as both artists and friends. My first work published by a formal publishing company, after the two self-published fanzines that I mentioned before, was Ypsilon. That was the very first attempt on a greek superhero theme. The book was drawn by Thanos Kollias and colored by Yannis Alertas. It only lasted for five issues. In the meantime I started writing two more comic series for an anthological book that was called Real Comics where I had editorial duties as well. Over the years I’ve also produced some short stories in both prose and comics form and some illustrations for numerous books and magazines. Last year I thought that the time had come to be a publisher so I started my own firm, "Phase Productions", and published my first ongoing series that’s called «(Greek Text)» - "MILTOS PERSIDES’ DESTINY" that is an alternative funny-animal series drawn by Angelos Konstantinou and written by yours truly! I am very proud that some of my collaborators are now working in the industry in the US such as my pal George Kambadais who was the artist of the prize winning series named «(Greek Text)» -"THE COLLECTORS’ MURDER" that has to do with the madness of collecting comics that, sometimes, can even lead to murder! by Jesus Belzunce

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