Books written and illustrated by Stanislav Marijanović usually deal with monsters. But what kind of monsters? Most people, most often not the brightest of them, commonly think of monsters as evil, ugly, unsightly and dangerous creatures. They are different from humans, they represent an unknown, and therefore humans think it best to be afraid of them.
Luckily Stanislav's monsters, or “monsters“ are rather different from man, and different in many ways. Besides humans, they are the only rational inhabitants of earth. They, of course, do not think of themselves as monsters, and in their own language they proudly call themselves Hul-Sul-Bak. For ages their existence had been a secret, actually until the moment of publication of Stanislav's Book: The Encyclopaedia of Monsters. In fact they themselves prompted the author to write a book about their numerous and heterogeneous species. The Hul-Sul-Baks are rarely met, and even more rarely recognized as such. They hide from us, humans, in the same way as most animals do, even if they do not perceive us as enemies.
It is therefore worth mentioning that Stanislav painted monsters and wrote about them before actually meeting them. He anticipated their existence in the same way Mendeleyev anticipated the existence of unknown elements. A bit naïve, spiced with humor, instructive and cheerful, Stanislav’s initial explorations had been recorded in delightful picture-books, some of which had been translated into more than twenty languages. In these explorations the author has already sensed the unusual connection between monster and human traits, a connection later "scientifically" confirmed in his Encyclopaedia of Monsters. In this book the Hul-Sul-Baks appear as multi-layered and multifaceted counterparts of humans, a kind of mirror showing our numerous faults and few virtues. The text and illustrations in the Encyclopaedia, both spiced with a fair amount of sparkling humor, enable young readers to face and overcome a whole range of problems encountered in their personal lives, and sometimes even problems encountered by the entire human community.
The ultimate bridge, constructed as a dialogue between Man and Hul-Sul-Bak, in other words between Man and Better Man is Stanislav’s Encyclopaedia of Humans (A Real Monster Breaks His Silence). In this book the monster Nosehehow, Stansilav’s remarkable friend, describes the human race. He makes us conscious of the fascinating bond between humans and Hul-Sul-Baks, whose destinies are tightly intertwined by inextricable threads – especially today when all inhabitants of this planet face previously unknown problems and challenges.
In the end, here's what the author said in a text about his illustrations, written for an exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair:
“In contrast to a somewhat tired statement that there is a child in (almost) every adult, I am more concerned with the fact that there is a future adult living in every child. This is one of the basic tenets of my work as a children’s author and illustrator.
Whether we want it or not, these future adults are the ones who will be facing new challenges, unfamiliar to our own generation – because we leave them this world in an unseemly and worrisome state. They will have to confront the untamed, frightened, aggressive and greedy side of the human nature – the side that lacks solidarity and basic awareness of the shared fate of human (and all other) beings on the only planet we have. Therefore, my illustrations, which are tightly intertwined with the text, are not gentle whisperings to calm the child before bedtime. Even when they are gentle, warm, witty and filled with compassion, their purpose is to wake the reader up to the not-so-simple reality so that he or she can confront it with a clear head. The protagonists in nearly all of my books are monsters, or more precisely, “monsters”, that reflect our flaws and, less frequently, our strengths back at us, while almost never averting their gaze from our own. (…) So, this is the terrain and the range in which my illustrations are created. Even when they sing with free, imaginative play, even when they contain seemingly unimportant details to make them more amusing, even when they make us laugh, they have been painstakingly designed and honed to hit their target – the heart of that future adult growing inside the child.” (Quoted text translated by Dubravka Petrović)
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