Bost cartoon from July 1960 about the implementation of one-way streets in Athens. Penaleon announces the news to Mama-Hellas, but she answers him wisely that the country's one-way street has long been made (referring to Greece's political-economical relationships with the Americans).

Mentis Bostantzoglou was a Greek satirist, who worked as a political cartoonist, playwright, lyricist and painter, often under the pen name "Bost" (Μποστ). His personal, unorthodox style with its typical use of informal language was reflected in all his productions. In terms of comics, he was one of the artists of the 1950s Greek version of the 'Classics Illustrated' comic book series.

Early life
He was born in 1918 as Chrysanthos Bostantzoglou (Χρύσανθος Βοσταντζόγλου). He spent his first years in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (present-day Istanbul), after which the family lived in Romania from 1920 to 1926, before finally settling in Athens, Greece. He received the nickname "Mentis" (Μέντης, meaning "Coin") while at high school, where he also stood out for his talent for drawing. In 1939, he attended the Athens School of Fine Arts, before dropping out after six months. During the German occupation, he joined the National Liberation Front and was an active member of the National Greek Resistance.

Early art career
After the war, Bostantzoglou ventured into cartooning and illustrating, working for books and magazines. An early personal effort was the self-published book 'Agios Fanourios. An Aid to Understand the Chinese classics Gah-Chu and Wu-Su-Ni' (1945). Between 1952 and 1961, he was employed by the national newspaper Kathimerini, initially as a cashier and librarian. From 1955 on, he was additionally present as an illustrator and cartographer in Eikónes ("Images") magazine and as a cartoonist in Tachydrómos ("Postman") magazine.


Page from Bost's 'Classics Illustrated' issue.

Classics Illustrated
During this early period, Mentis Bostantzoglou also had a short stint in comic books, working for the Greek 'Classics Illustrated' series ('Κλασσικά Εικονογραφημένα'). The American comic book series with adaptations of literary classics was launched in Greece in 1951, with translations by Vassilis Rotas. By October 1953, the translated issues were supplemented with locally produced installments, presenting tales from Byzantine/Greek history and ancient mythology in comic book format. Coordinated and written by Rotas, several issues appeared until the early 1960s, including Bostantzoglou's comic book versions of the lifes and times of the Byzantine Emperors Constantine XI Palaiologos (issue #1110) and the ruthless Vasileios, AKA "Bulgaroktonos" (issue #1041).

The Garden of Bost
At Kathimerini, Bostantzoglou's talent was recognized too, resulting in the launch of his own column, 'To Bostáni tou Bost' ("The Garden of Bost", 1959-1961). It introduced Bost's best-known characters, the impoverished  Mama-Hellas (Mother Greece) and her children Peinaleon (Hungry Man) and Anergitsa (Little Miss Unemployment), who commented on the news with misspelled words. Toying around with spelling, mispronunciation of words and mixed-up expressions became the main traits in Bost's commentary on the petty post-war bourgeois Greek, class struggle, xenomania and Greek politics. A leftist himself, he targeted the nationalism of the right-wing parties, but he also satirized the left-wing politicians. His work often got him in trouble. A piece called 'The Profession of my Mother' (1961) offended Kathimerini editor Helen Vlachos, and meant the of Bost's association with the paper.


1962 cartoon about the Cuba Crisis.

Political work
The disrespectful nature of Bost's political cartoons for the newpapers Omada, Makedonia, Anexartitos Typos, Empros and Mesimvrini and the magazines Roads of Peace and Spectator often lead to lawsuits and persecutions. Between 1960 and 1963, he had a weekly drawing in the newspaper Eleftheria, followed between 1963 and 1966 by a daily political cartoon and a Sunday drawing in newspaper I Avgi. He continued to work as a cartoonist until shortly after the military dicatorship of Georgios Papadopoulos. His anti-Papadopoulos drawings continued to appear in the magazines Anti and Postman in 1973, the year the colonel became president of the new Greek republic. Bost ran as a member of parliamant several times (1964, 1981, 1985), but was never elected.

Other artistic work
From the mid-1960s onwards, Bost's activities expanded to other art forms. In 1966, he opened his own giftshop, Laikai Ikonai, where he decorated over 27,000 items with artwork and informally written verses and inscriptions. His idiosyncratic artwork was also used in advertisements for Renault and Dupont Flowcoat. Bost's paintings were an amalgam of styles, mixing elements from naïve folk painting, iconography, surrealism and shadow theater. Like with his narrative work, his pieces were full of intentional anagronisms, allegories and symbolism, often mixing heroes from antiquity and the 1820s Greek War of Independence.

Bost also took his satire to performance arts, writing theatrical plays in fifteen syllables and light-hearted hit songs for artists like Giorgos Zographos ('Oi Nekrotháftes') and Grigoris Bithikotsis ('I Nísos ton Azorón' and 'Rombia'). Popular plays were 'Don Quixote' (1963), 'Beautiful City' (1963), 'Fausta' (1964), 'Maria Pentagiotissa' (1982), '40 Years of Bost' (1987) and 'Medea' (1993). His swan song, a personal take on 'Romeo and Juliet' (1995), premiered at the Herodion a few months before the writer passed away.

Death and legacy
Mentis Bostantzoglou passed away in December 1995, at the age of 76 or 77. His eldest son Kostas Bostantzoglou (1949-2021) became a distinguised fine artist and playwright. Bost's other son, Giannis Bostantzoglou (1951), is an actor for Greek television, films and theater.

Bost cartoons at sarantakos.wordpress.com (in Greek)

Series and books by Mentis Bostantzoglou in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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