Illustration for Mikros Serifis #178.

Themos Andreopoulos (Θέμος Ανδρεόπουλος) was a Greek painter, illustrator, editor and comic creator, with a career spanning over 50 years. A pioneer of Greek comics, he contributed to a great many magazines and newspapers during the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known as the co-creator and original illustrator of the western story paper 'Mikros Serifis' ("The Little Sheriff", 1962) with Potis Stratikis, and as publisher of Tam-Tam (1950), the first Greek comic magazine.

Early life and career
Born in Athens in 1917, Andreopoulos was the youngest child among four brothers and sisters. His father was a merchant from Nafpaktos who spent most of his immigrant years in Romania, Tsarist Russia and Canada. Coming from a family with a strong passion for art and books. Themos graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts as a student of impressionist painter Umvertos S. Argyros (1882-1963). Meanwhile, he designed jewelry in art deco style for a jewelry shop. His very first published drawing appeared in Evdomas magazine in 1937. It illustrated the tale 'The Christmas of an Evil Man' by Dimitrios Psathas (1907-1979), inspired by Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'. While taking part as a soldier at the Albanian front in the Greek-Italian War (1940-1941), he was seriously injured in the head by a shrapnell. It left him with a lifelong hearing loss. Becoming more introverted as a result, he devoted all his time to art and fantasy worlds. Inspired by Walt Disney's movie pictures, Andreopoulos strongly believed that comics were similar to cinema art. Much of his later publications would showcase his love for both media.

'Sampou', early comic strip from Ellinopoulo.

Illustrator and comic artist
In 1947 Andreopoulos established his own graphic arts studio, and briefly ran his own painting school called METRO in 1949. Illustration work proved more lucrative, however. In 1945 he had already serialized his fairy tale comic series 'Sandro' in Nikos Tsekouras' Ellinopoulo magazine. Other early comics included adaptations of classic literature, such as Mark Twain's 'The Prince and the Pauper' (1945). During the 1950s and 1960s Andreopoulos contributed cover and interior illustrations and comics to a great many publications. These included the magazines Bouketo, Theatis, Romantso and Eikones, and the newspapers Empros, National Messenger, Acropolis and Macedonia. He also contributed to the children's magazines Maska (published by Apostolos Magganaris), Gaour-Tarzan (Ankara Publications, 1959), Sineak, Diaplasis, Children's Joy, Child's Home and Children's Treasure. He had associations with the publishing houses Alikiotis, Astir and Ankara, while he also tried his luck in animation. Together with the director Alex Gabriel he set up his own studio, Alfa Films, in 1953, resulting in a couple of experimental animated commercials.

Comic by Themos Andreopoulos for Tam-Tam #2.

Tam-Tam (1)
Notable publications with his art were the ones he launched himself, aided by his assistant Konstantinos Rabatzis. In 1950, he gathered a team of writers and artists and launched his first magazine, Tam-Tam Illustrated Adventures (Ταμ - Ταμ Εικονογραφημένες Περιπέτειες). It was the first Greek magazine fully devoted to comics. The early issues had 16 pages, extended to 24 color pages from the sixth issue on. A total of 18 issues were made, largely filled with comics based on popular films. Besides Andreopoulos, the other contributors were Byron Aptosoglou, Potis Stratikis, Sofia Mavroidi-Papadaki, Zoe Skiadaresi and Stefanos Apostolou. Other early publishing efforts by Andreopoulos tried to present overviews of cinematic films (Cinematic Illustrated, 1957) and classic literature (Pantheon of Masterpieces, 1960).

Story papers
Themos Andreopoulos was present in several story papers containing illustrated adventure stories. He made the drawings for about twenty issues of 'O Mikros Iros' ("The Little Hero"), published by Stelios Anemodouras from 1953 on. The long-running title featured the adventures of three heroic children during World War II, and their struggles with German, Italian and Bulgarian fascists. Byron Aptosoglou was the title's main illustrator. Andreopoulos was also one of the artists of 'Joe Dick' (1958), a detective title by Nikos Marakis.

Opening illustration for Tam-Tam #5, 'Scaramus'.

Tam-Tam (2)
About ten years after the first series of Tam-Tam, Andreopoulos launched another magazine with the same title. Again, Tam-Tam contained stories based on movies, but this time dropped the comics format. Each issue began and ended with a text comic serialization of 'The Count of Monte Christo', with an illustrated adaptation of a popular movie forming the core of the issue. The first issue hit the newsstands in March or April of 1961, and delved into the 1959 film 'Rio Bravo'. Seven more issues followed, containing stories based on 'Horror of Dracula', 'Scaramus', 'The Alamo', 'The Man Who Knew Too Much', 'Flame and Arrow' and, strange enough, two non-existent 'Tarzan' and 'Zorro' films ('Tarzan in the Lost State', 'Zorro fights with the Devil'). Later magazines published by Andreopoulos' Capricorn and Unicorn imprints were Golden Eagle-Kendall (1968), Laky (1972), Toby, Cocorico and Mighty Mouse. As one of the first entrepeneurs in Greece to see the commercial possibilities of comics, his publications imported many comics from abroad. In 1968, Andreopoulos published the first Greek translations of Morris and René Goscinny's 'Lucky Luke' comic (and a couple of years later created the Greek rip-off 'Lucky Blue' with Giorgos Marmaridis and Konstantinos Rampatzis). The monthly Laky featured translations of Franco-Belgian comics such as Peyo's 'Johan et Pirlouit' and Marcel Remacle's 'Vieux Nick et Barbe-Noire', while Aristokrates (1977) was built aroud the Italian series 'Gli Aristocratici' by Ferdinando Tacconi and Alfredo Castelli.

Covers for Little Sheriff #49 and Little Cow-Boy #239.

The Little Sheriff
Together with the editor and writer Potis Stratikis (1926-2019), Andreopoulos assumed the joint pen name Kostas Foteinos and launched several story books inspired by Far West pulp fiction. The first, 'Mikros Serifis' ("The Little Sheriff"), told the adventures of the 18-year old Greek-American sheriff Jim Adams. His inseparable sidekicks were the Mexican Pepito Gonzalez, the amazone brunette Diana Morrison and the 12-year old Comanche Tsipiripo. Launched on 13 November 1962, Andreopoulos illustrated little over 400 issues. The title turned out one of the longest-running Greek children's magazines, coming to an end with issue #1468 in December 1991. Andreopoulos and Stratikis also cooperated on the first 286 issues of 'Mikros Cow-Boy' ("The Little Cowboy", 1963), another title starring Jim Adams and his gang, albeit in a smaller format. This second title remained in constant circulation for thirty years, coming to and end after 1218 issues. The two men revived their collaboration in 1973 for 'Mikros Archigos' ("The Little Leader"), which consisted of mainly reprints and new stories starring 'Super Little Cow-Boy' and 'Diana'.

In 1971, the original Stratakis-Andreopoulos team split up, with the first continuing Mikros Serifis, and the latter assuming control over Mikros Cow-Boy. For this new construction, Themos Andreopoulos was joined in his production by the writer Giorgos Marmaridis and the cartoonist Kostas Rampatzis. Later on, the cartoonist Vangelis Saitis also joined, creating comical solo stories with Pepito Gonzales. In 1973, Andreopoulos and Stratakis revived their collaboration for the launch of 'Mikros Archigos' ("The Little Leader"), which consisted of mainly reprints and new stories starring 'Super Little Cow-Boy' and 'Diana'.

Further work
Besides his work for the press, Themos Andreopoulos made thousands of cartoons and illustrations for cinema, books and school guides, as well as TV and movie advertisements. From the late 1970s he gradually shifted to painting, making both naturalistic and surreal works. He passed away in Athens in 1996.

Tam-Tam on

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