'Iva'. Translation: "What a pleasure! Great! Goodbye, mummy! Oh, shit!"

Albin Rogelj, often shortened to "Bine Rogelj", was a Slovene ski jumper and cartoonist. During the 1950s, Rogelj was a notable name in his sports discipline. Even though he never won a major tournament, he held a national jumping record that stood for more than 31 years. Between 1953 and 1990, he was a contributor to the Slovenian weekly Pavliha, making caricatures and cartoons. For the magazine Pionirski List, he drew the teen series 'Smrkavec iz Levega Kota, Smrklja Iz Desnega Kota' ('Kids from the Left and Right Corner'), 'Iva' (1983) and 'Urška' (1984). Rogelj additionally wrote humorous songs.

Cover of 'Kurirček Tinček'.

Early life
Albin Rogelj was born in 1929 in Ljubljana, nowadays the capital of Slovenia, but back then a city in the short-lived Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes. Eight months after his birth, the country changed its name to Yugoslavia. His father was a chimney sweep in the town Šiška. At age 11-12, Rogelj helped him with his job. He also inherited his father's love for sports. After finishing elementary school in 1943, Rogelj started a course at a Technical college, with the intention to become a construction builder. However, World War II prevented him from ever graduating. By 1944-1945, the Yugoslavian resistance managed to overthrow the Nazi occupiers and in 1945 the country changed from a monarchy into a Communist Republic.

In 1945, as a member of the youth brigade of Bohinj, Rogelj helped out with collecting and carrying firewood to the Carniola hospital. These activities made him miss the new school year at the construction building school. But he was still in time to register for an art and crafts school, which was more to his personal interest. There, his classmates were future legends like illustrator and comic artist Aco Mavec and painter Vladimir Makuc. During his military service (1950), Rogelj was regularly able to escape drill exercises by making drawings for his lieutenant. His commander gave him permission to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubliana, where he was educated by the well-known painter Gojmir Anton Kos. Rogelj graduated in 1955.

From: 'Kurirček Tinček'.

Cartooning career
While still an art student in 1953, one of Rogelj's teachers, painter Marij Pregelj, advised him to send some of his drawings to the satirical weekly newspaper Pavliha. He was not only accepted, but offered a full-time contract soon afterwards. Together with Milan Maver, he remained one of the magazine's house cartoonists for decades. In 1985, Rogelj became chief editor. Five years later, Pavilha was discontinued. Rogelj's cartoons and comics also ran in children's and young adult magazines like Ciciban, Kurirček and Pionirski list. In Ciciban, he drew a pantomime comic titled 'Little Cat' (1964), which was one of the first comics published in its pages. The series ran for only two seasons.

'Urška' (1984). Translation: "I have a new dress and would be very unhappy if somebody else wore the same one." 

Between 1979 and 2001, Rogelj drew the teen series 'Smrkavec iz Levega Kota, Smrklja Iz Desnega Kota' ("Kids from the Left and Right Corner") for the magazine Pionirski List. The series offered a witty look at teenage life. In the early 1980s, Rogelj also drew the teen comics 'Iva' (1983) and 'Urška' (1984) for Pionirski list, following the same themes. He once named them his favorite comics. In 1985, the publishing company Borec brought out a collection of one-page comics by Rogelj, titled 'Kurirček Tinček' ("Little Courier Tinček"), about a boy and his dog. Rogelj additionally drew stories for more mature readers in the magazine Pavlihova Pratika, covering topics like politics, sex and social conditions.

As a cartoonist, Rogelj worked in a loose style. He made no preliminary pencil sketches, but drew directly in ink. He signed most of his work with his first name, Bine.

From: 'Kurirček Tinček'. Translation: "I have a new skis. If I practice enough, I'll be able to achieve a new world record on the huge ski jump in Planica. This is high enough for the first ski jump." 

Sports career
Apart from drawing cartoons, Rogelj was also active as a ski jumper. In 1950, he was present at the World Championship Ski Jumping at the Bloudka airport in Planica, where he jumped 110 metres. This record stood for 31 years and was only broken in 1991 by his fellow countryman Miran Tepeš. In 1953, Rogelj participated with the Four Hills Tournament, ending at the 10th place. That same year, on 31 December, he achieved the highest score of his career in Oberstdorf, ending at fifth place, while making it to the 9th place in Innsbruck, on 3 January 1954. He also represented his country during the 1956 Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Interviewed in 2019, Rogelj recalled that there was barely any snow in Slovenia during the months prior to the competition. He and his team mates had to listen to the radio to find remote areas in the country where there was enough frost. Luckily their coach found out that former Slovenian Olympic champion Josef Braddel owned a 40 metre-long diving board, which allowed them to at least get some form of training. On 5 February 1956, during the Games, Rogelj ended at the 23th place, just behind his fellow countryman Jože Zidar.

On 23 April 1970, the Slovenian ski jumping club SSK Ilirija Ljubljana was established. Rogelj designed its logo, which is still in use to this day.

"New Times". Page of a political comic strip by Bine for Pavlihova pratika (1991).

In 1960, Rogelj and other athletes of the Slovenian ski jumping team received a golden watch with an engraved signature from President Tito. In 1970, Rogelj was honored with a Prešeren Award for his artistic career.

Later years and death
In 1983, Albin Rogelj and his wife moved to Gozd Martuljek in the North West of Slovenia. Five years later, the Iron Curtain fell, meaning the end of the Communist regime in Yugoslavia, but also of many magazines that had published Rogelj's comics for the past decades. In 1991, Slovenia became independent. Rogelj retired from cartooning, but kept painting, skiing, langlaufing and playing volleyball in the KRN Club. In fact, it wasn't until 2016, when he was already 86, that he permanently quit skiing. He passed away in 2023, in his birthtown Ljubljana. He was 93 years old.

'Smrkavec iz Levega Kota, Smrklja Iz Desnega Kota'

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