From: Mikrós Íros #1.

Byron Aptosoglou (Βύρων Απτόσογλου), also known as simply "Byron", was active in a variety of art forms. He was a painter, a sculptor, but most notably one of the most prominent Greek illustrators of his generation, as well as a pioneer in Greek comic art. From the 1950s throughout the 1980s he was present in nearly every pulp fiction story paper on the market. He had a long association with the publisher Stelios Anemodouras, with whom he created enigmatic characters like 'The Superman' (1950-1953) and 'Little Hero' (1953-1968).

Early life and career
Born in 1923 in Istanbul, Turkey, Byron Aptosoglou moved with his family to Athens, Greece, at age seven. There, he attended the School of Fine Arts, after which he became a sculptor and painter. He however turned out as one of the most famous Greek illustrators, appearing in a great many newspapers (Acropolis, Athinaki) and magazines (Romantso, Fantasia, Venteta). His focus became pulp fiction story papers; monthly or weekly publications in comic book format, containing illustrated text serials and an occasional comic.

In 1950 he was one of the artists for Tam-Tam Illustrated Adventures, Greece's first comic book, published by Themos Andreopoulos. Byron was responsible for the drawings in four of the eighteen issues (#1, 7, 9, 17), and the protagonists relied heavily on the classic American pulp and comic book heroes. Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'Tarzan' was "borrowed" as the lead star in issue #1, 'Tarzan in the Lost State'. 'Magos' the "Flying Magician" in issue #17 was a near-mint copy of Siegel & Shuster's 'Superman', complete with the 'S' symbol on his chest.

'The Superman' #1.

The Superman
The success of 'Superman' lead to a separate story paper with a completely Greek version of the "Man of Steel", although graphically he looked more like 'Captain Marvel'. 'O Yperánthropos' ("The Superman", 1951-1953) was launched on 24 April 1951, and lasted for 96 weekly issues. The Greek Superman (this time with an Y on his chest) was the secret identity of the journalist Jim Burton, part of an alien and far more developed human race. The writer Thanos Astritis was none other than publisher Stelios Anemodouras himself. It marked the beginning of the longtime association between the entrepeneur and the busy illustrator. The title spawned similar spin-offs by the same team, starting with 'Eikonografimenos Yperánthropos' (1952), a comic book variation which lasted only two issues but went down in history as Greece's first superhero comic book. Another story paper called 'Yperánthropos (Sérintan)' ("Superman (Sheridan)") followed in 1957-1958, for which Aptosoglou illustrated the first eight covers. The eight issues of 'Planitánthropos' ("Planet Man", 1962-1963) introduced a new superhero by Anemodouras, Aptosoglou and the writer George Marmaridis.

From: Gaur-Tarzan #30.

'Tarzan' also proved a recurring character in Byron Aptosoglou's career. Still in 1950, he assumed the interior illustrations for the Greek 'Tarzan' title (later 'Gaur-Tarzan') by Ankara Publications from the 20th issue on. He remained associated with the title in the following years, when it was published by the writer Nikos Routsos himself. Later that decade, Stelios Anemodouras also picked up the "king of the jungle", and launched 'O Mikrós Tarzan' ("Little Tarzan", 1958-1959) and 'Jungle, the True Adventures of Tarzan' (1963), all with artwork by Aptosoglou. The two men additionally launched other fearless jungle heroes, such as 'Targa' (1954), 'Cal, the Lord of the Jungle' (1959) and the comic book 'Zorro of the Jungle' (1960).

'Zorro of the Jungle'.

Pulp-fiction work
During the 1950s, Byron Aptosoglou worked for several publishers at the same time. His illustrations appeared in titles like 'Maska' (published by Apostolos Magganaris), 'Coursaros', 'Mikros Fantomas' (both by Ankara Publications) and 'Flying Giant' (by Th. Mikropoulos), and in the children's magazines Ellinopoulo, Children's Treasure and Sineak. His collaboration with the Anemodouras magazines was however far more extensive. Between 1951 and 1977 his artwork appeared in over 30 of the publisher's titles. In a 1995 interview with Aris Malandrakis, the publisher recalled the young artist was not particularly skilled in the early stages of their collaboration, but that he gradually improved in drawing action scenes by studying artwork from foreign publications.

Mikrós Íros
Aptosoglou and Anemodouras' best known co-creation was 'Mikrós Íros' ("Little Hero"), of which 798 black-and-white issues were published between 24 February 1953 and 18 June 1968. The title was launched to soften the aftermath of the previous period of war, occupation and civil strife, and achieve some patriotic pride. The first post-World War II generations could easily identify with the title's three juvenile heroes, who participate in the National Resistance against the German, Italian and Bulgarian fascists. The heroic orphan boy and martial arts expert George Thalassis, aka the 'Ghost Child", is the main hero, always accompanied by the teenage girl Katerina and comic relief sidekick Spithas. Byron Aptosoglou was the series' main illustrator throughout its nearly 800 issue run, even though Themos Andreopoulos and Dimitris Antonopoulos have also provided their share of artwork. A comic book spin-off called Eikonografimenos Mikros Iros ("The Illustrated Little Hero") appeared in 1969-1970, with artwork by Aptosoglou and Antonopoulos.

From the 'Mikrós Íros' comic book.

In 1969 Stelios Anemodouras launched the comic book Pepito, which first introduced Byron Aptosoglou's rogue character 'Karagiozis', with scripts by Anastasios Stelios. By the 1980s, Byron Aptosoglou set up shop for himself, and launched his own publishing imprint Byron. With his own scripts and artwork he published 'Eikonografiméno Karankiózi' ("The Illustrated Karagiozis", 1984), containing new adventures of his hero.

'Karagiozis' (from Pepito).

Final years and death
Also in the 1980s, Aptosoglou illustrated children's books and school books for the publishers Astir, Thucydides, Diptychos and Papadimitriou. His dream to adapt the Odyssey to comics format was never brought to fruition. The artist passed away in Athens in 1990, after a short illness, at the age of 67.

Byron Aptosoglou stands as one of the most productive illustrators in Greek (comic book) history. In an interview, his wife recalled that the workhorse drew at least fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, during at least sixteen years. The Municipality of Athens and the "E.L.I.A." Foundation posthumously honored the artist with a large overview exhibition at the Melina Mercouri Museum and Cultural Centre throughout December 1997 and January 1998.

The Superman on

O Mikrós Íros on

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