Rise of the forsaken by Emiliyan & Stanimir Valev

The brothers Emiliyan and Stanimir Valev are Bulgarian comic authors and illustrators, who are working on a collective, and international, oeuvre since 2008. Many of their stories are inspired by the ancient lore and fantasy of their homeland, and have been published in indie anthologies from Bulgaria, Republika Srpska, Romania, Turkey, Russia, France, Portugal, Sweden, the UK, the USA, and Argentina.

Early life
Stanimir was born in 1985, and Emiliyan three years later. The two brothers grew up with a shared interest in classic fairy tales, cartoons, comics and movies, and enjoyed themselves making up stories with their favorite characters. The creative dynamics between the two lasted until adulthood, when they decided to pursue a joint career as comic artists. There are no specific roles in their collaboration; they share equal duties on the writing, concepts, drawing, lettering and coloring.

Under my skin by Emiliyan and Stanimir Valev

Bulgarian works
In their home country the Valev brothers came to notice as writers for one of Bulgaria's most ambitious comics projects: 'The Bulgarian Kings' (2008). The project explored some of the greatest Bulgarian rulers throughout the ages. In the following year, the lifestyle magazine Slava ran their creator-owned comics features 'Star Bable' (2009), which poked fun at worldwide celebrity fandom. In 2011, they released 'Under My Skin', an urban fantasy drama centered on the struggle within, starring the ballerina Alexandria and the tattoo artist Dorian. It was the first digital graphic novella in Bulgaria. Their epic saga 'Samodiva's Kiss' ran online on amilova.com (2012) and then in print in Az sam Bulgarche magazine in 2014. In 2014 and 2015 the story was serialized in BÅ­lgarski LovetsÅ­, Bulgaria's national hunting magazine. It is a magical tale about a young hunter's quest for love in the world of fairy tales and the supernatural, inspired by the richness of Bulgarian folklore, history, and beliefs.

The Thirst by Stanimir and Emiliyan Valev
'The Thirst' (2012) is probably the Valev story with the most international exposure, as it appeared in anthologies throughout Eastern Europe.

International indie publications
The brothers first showcased their work internationally in 2010, at an exhibition during the 12th Balkan Review of Young Comics Authors in Leskovac, Serbia. That same year they participated in the Assassin's Creed Art book contest by the French video game company Ubisoft, where they received positive reviews from the jury. After these first exposures, they remained among Bulgaria's most prominent representatives in the international indie comic scene. Their stories have appeared in issues of Parabellum (2011, 2013), a comic magazine from the Republic of Srpska. In 2012 they were the first non-Romanian contributors to the Romanian comic magazine COMICS, and subsequently made appearances in Pocketfulmag from Turkey (2013) and Co-mixer in Bulgaria (2013 and 2016). Stories by the duo were featured in the French interactive illustration magazine Barbacoa Mag (2014), the Argentinian art magazine Metropia (2013-2014) and in the anthology for the AltCom Festival 2014 in Sweden: 'Postapokalyps'. They had their Russian debut with the story 'Voice of Satori' in the tenth volume of the manga anthology 'MNG. Al'manakh Russkoi Mangi' (2015). Their work also appeared on the online comics community Amilova.com, and in the Portuguese coloring book 'Monstros Urbanos' (Associação Tentaculo, 2020).

In the mood by Stanimir and Emiliyan Valev
'In The Mood'.

English-language work
In the USA, their short story 'Rise of the Forsaken' was published in 'Grayhaven's Limitless Steampunk Anthology' (Grayhaven Comics, 2013), a genre anthology collecting stories from parallel worlds of the steampunk age. Other U.S. publications include the stories 'In The Mood', 'Mysterious Way's and 'Arrow of Time' in the first and second volumes of the 'Indie Comics Quarterly' (2014). All three stories received nominations for Spectare Creative's Independent Comic Award. Emiliyan and Stanimir were also present in the fifth 'Seqapunch Quarterly' (2013), the horror anthologies 'Unfashined Creatures: A Frankenstein Anthology' (Red Stylo Media, 2013), 'Tales from the Public Domain' (HellCat Press, 2017) and 'Screams Heard 'Round The World' (HellCat Press, 2018), as well as issues of the genre fiction zine Weird Mask (2018) and the anthology 'Space Copz: Origins' (2019) by Behemoth Comics.

Since 2015 they have had exposure on the British market as well. In that year, they appeared in the 'Growing Pains' anthology by the Sinister Saints imprint of Horrified Press, and in issues of the cult entertainment periodical Starburst Magazine. Their submissions to the Frame Prague Comics Art Festival have subsequently appeared in Centrala's 'Frame: Wake Up Anthology' (2017), 'Frame: The Last Tree Anthology' (2018) and 'Frame: The Art of Hate Anthology' (2019).

Pin-up illustration for 'Metamorphosis'.

Book collections
The oeuvre of the Valev brothers contains a wide range of genres and themes. Some stories explore the surrealism of dreams or the dystopian worlds of cyberpunk, others deal with natural drama and raw noir. A showcase of their work was presented during the 2017 solo exhibition 'Imaginarium', which eventually led to the publication of their story collection 'Imaginarium' (2018) in the INK line of the Bulgarian publisher Ergo. Ergo also collected their stories 'Under My Skin' and 'Ariadna' in the single volume 'Metamorphoses' (2020). The comic book 'A Dance With Ink' (2019) was presented by the authors as "a celebration of comics as an art form". It was distributed for free through Na Tamno shops, the biggest independent retailer for alternative and lifestyle fashion in Bulgaria.

Other activities
Besides their numerous appearances in international anthologies, the work of Emiliyan and Stanimir Valev has been showcased at international festivals and exhibitions in Bulgaria, Serbia, Republika Srpska, Romania, Sweden, France and Colombia. Their stories were published in Bulgaria, Republika Srpska, Romania, Turkey, Russia, France, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom, USA, and Argentina. Another joint creation is the experimental short film 'A Ball of Shadows' (2019), an urban fantasy tale inspired by legends and folklore. It had its premier at the Sibiu International Comics Festival 2019 in Sibiu, Romania.


Series and books by Emiliyan & Stanimir Valev in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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