Hungarian comic book artist Ernö Zórád was one of the most important and internationally acclaimed creators of the socialist era. He was born on 16 October, 1911 in Balassagyarmat. Having spent 2 years at the Royal Institute of Arts and Crafts, he quit his studies.
The young graphic artist was employed by Baron Egon Wallburg as a strawman to paint hunting scenes. It was only after 1945, when he began illustrating periodicals. In 1951, he began working for Magyar Ifjúsági Lapkiadó and a few years later also started a career that would last for 40 years at Füles.
He was also known as a book illustrator. Between 1952 and 1988 he produced paintings for slide-films to the delight of the adolescent youth, for example 'The adventures of Baron Munchhausen', 'Gulliver's travels', 'Don Quiote', etc.
His first significant comic book work, 'Winnetou', appeared in Pajtás magazine, where word-balloons were placed first into panels. Zórád didn't have a high opinion on comics until 1964, his contributions to the medium dated back before that year rather seem to be rough sketches compared to his later works.
In 1964, Füles published 'Fekete gyémántok' ('Black diamonds', a comic book adaptation of Jókai Mór's novel), that bears all the characteristics of his own style. Zórád created a high-standard for comic book art in Hungary. His conscious page-compositions, though 20-30 years old, still give readers the impression of freshness.
In the beginning, Tibor Cs. Horváth, József Hunyady and Péter Kuczka scripted his comics. From 1975 he did the scriptwork himself. His comics were published in many countries of the socialist block. He adopted the collage technique in comics by inserting contemporary photos and illustrations into panels.
In 1980, he began painting a series of watercolours depicting the intimate atmosphere of Tabán (once a district of the castle of Buda), that had been demolished in the twenties. The polimath artist not only produced wonderful drawings and paintings, he also played the piano and sang very well.
Ernö Zórád is the only Hungarian comic book artist whose star was rising throughout his career. The 86-year old Maestro could adapt Erich Kastner's 'Die Verschwundene Miniatur' with as much virtuosity and dynamism as he had done at his peak.
His works were first exhibited in 1947, in Budapest. He was awarded at the International Caricature Exhibition in 1955, in Vienna. In 2000, he was awarded Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic (Officer Grade). Leaving behind more than 300 comics, he passed away at the age of 93, on 8 April, 2008, in Budapest.
His main works are Sándor Petöfi's 'János vitéz' ('Johnny Corncob', 1964), József Hunyady's 'A fekete lovag' (1968), Kenneth Roberts' 'Az északnyugati átjáró' ('Northwest passage', 1972), Kálmán Mikszáth's 'Új Zrínyiász' (1977), Jenö Heltai's 'A 111-es' (1980) and Rostand's 'Cyrano de Bergerac' (1982).
Last Days of Pompeii