„The Third Argument” by Zoran Tucić, Milorad Pavić, Zoran Stefanović (info)

A graphic novel based on the writings of Milorad Pavić

Script by Zoran Stefanović • Art by Zoran Tucić

This article, authors’ biographies and photo portraits are under a free license: Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0 (www.creativecommons.org)

On the Project

The „Third Argument” is an enigmatic graphic novel, unusual even in the global context. It was created after the stories of Serbian Nobel Prize candidate, „The First Writer of the 21st Century”, Milorad Pavić (1929-2009). Three stories constitute the whole which addresses the „European Question” from historical, anthropological, psychological, mystical and political points of view – the prejudices, traumas and myths. The „Love Romance” is the story of matter, „Historical Events” describe the abyss of time, and „Third Argument” is the decisive one not only for the fate of Europe, but the Humankind and civilization as well.

The graphic novel has been successfully received both by the public and critics in Southeast Europe (Yugoslavia and Cyprus, 1995) where it won all of the main national awards. Then it was introduced to the planetary public through United States of America and the Heavy Metal Magazine (1998-2000) being sold 100.000 copies in average. Now is being published in France by YIL editions, Serbia by Komiko and in other countries (2016).


Graphic novel has been done by artist Zoran Tucić and scriptwriter Zoran Stefanović based on motifs from Milorad Pavić's literature: stories „The Wedgwood tea set“, „Horses of St. Mark, or the Novel of Troy“ and „The third argument“, as well as poems „The game of chess with Mexican figures“ and „The novel of Troy“.

Also have participated: costume designer Jasmina Ignjatović (ladies' costumes in the first story); painter and sculptor Jasna Nikolić (figure-concepts) and art photographer Milinko Stefanović.

Illustrations in the appendix: Zoran Tucić (drawings, sketches and architectural plans of the New Egyptian Museum); Dragan Tanasijević (photo portrait of Pavić); Milinko Stefanović (photo portraits of Tucić and Stefanović); Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Horses of St. Mark, Creative Commons BY 3.0).

The authors are grateful to the writer and principal of Milorad Pavić Foundation Jasmina Mihajlović; Serbian editors Dragan Savić, Aleksandar Dramićanin, Vuk Marković and Dragan Lazarević (aka Dragan de Lazare); archaeologists Vladimir Leković and Svetozar Stanković; consultant for old cars Vojka Maslačak, technical editor Nenad Petrović and writer Slobodan Škerović.

Graphic designer: Rade Tovladijac

Graphic novel „The Third Argument“ © Zoran Tucić and Zoran Stefanović. • The original Pavić’s stories and poems: © Jasmina Mihajlović / Milorad Pavić’s Bequest, Belgrade (www.khazars.com) • Other works: © The authors and owners of individual copyrights. • Images of artworks and quotations are permitted for academic and fair use. • Cover description, authors’ biographies and photo portraits are under a free license: Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0 (www.creativecommons.org)

More graphic novels, comics, movie and multimedia projects: Studio S.O.K.O., Belgrade, (www.janus.rs)


„He knew that literature is cooperation, he knew that good reader is rarer than good writer and he tried to attract attention; he knew this was the reason why boring literature can't be good literature and did not fear adopting the so called trivial forms.” – Milorad Pavić („Departure of Borges”, Politika, Belgrade, June 21st 1986)

  • „I am trying to change the way of reading a novel by increasing the role and responsibility of reader in creation of work. I have transferred the decision and choice about the plot and its unraveling on them, when the reading will begin and end, even the decision of the destiny of main characters. But in order to change the way of reading, I had as I already said, to also change the way of writing.” – Milorad Pavić
  • „The possibility of ambivalent epilogue has been established: from the fact that the reader is a woman or a man depends the destiny of an empire. Reader has gotten, in this story of Pavić, the power of God, a power much greater than the key persons of the East and West. Behind the radical and ironical game, which enables double epilogue, a situation of contemporary man before the faithful questions of the world has been suggested, which is not just the question of the East and West, but also a question of man's survival. And with such question one can live only by ambivalent irony and creative game.” – Jovan Delić (The Khazar Prism, Belgrade, 1991)
  • „The well of meanings offered by Pavić' story, is revealed depending on reader's knowledge, access to information, imagination, ability to associate, irrationality. Thus, in this prose, the reader gets enthroned as an equal participant in creation, as an analyzer and creator of new worlds which are handed to him by „unlocking” of the layers and meanings. Amusing plot and interesting upheaval are offered to the reader as provocation and compensation during investing effort in search for the meaning.” – Jasmina Mihajlović (Story of Soul and Body. Layers and meanings in prose of Milorad Pavić. Belgrade, 1992.)
  • „In research and exploration for the comic, we discovered that the famous ceramic producer and slavery fighter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) was grandfather to Charles Darwin. In our opinion, there is no doubt that Pavić absolutely consciously placed story in this, and not some other type of porcelain.” – Zoran Stefanović, („Taming of others' demons. Adaptability of Milorad Pavić' prose into virtual media – in the example of comics album Third Argument”, seminary work, Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Belgrade, 1994.)
  • „According to the claims of certain classical antiquity chronics, the first artistic rendering of Troy was composed by Phrygians, pre-Hellenic population of Pelasgian origins, which moved from Central Balkans to Anatolia. Milan Budimir, a famous classical philologist, remarks that Homer most certainly knew some other language along with the old Greek (Ovid ascribed him Paeonian nationality). In any case, it is indicative that in this bloody meeting of ‘Asia’ and ‘Europe’ under the walls of Troy, almost exclusively fight the Balkan tribes – on both sides.” – Zoran Stefanović, (1994).
  • „On ‘Egyptian’ page in the second story, along with the known pyramids from Giza, there is, in a humble way represented, an enormous object which does not exist in reality. This is the huge and brilliant architectural project of the New Egyptian Museum by Zoran Tucić.“ – Zoran Stefanović (1994).
  • „Dealing with adaptations is actually taming someone else's demon.” – Zoran Stefanović (1994).

From reviews

  • “Authors have, in a very precise manner, touched the spirit, the essence of the oneiric, entangled and then disentangled style, which attracted so many readers to Pavić' prose. (…) Byzantine civilization is omnipresent in the Third Argument, and that should make them proud.” – Pavle Zelić
  • “The best adaptation of literature in history of Serbian comics.” – Vasa Pavković
  • “Done after the recipe of three colors – white, red and blue, stories themselves offer interpretation of their own spectrum, which as opposed to phrases of the enlightened, rational European thoughts on ‘freedom, equality and brotherhood’, differ and come to persisting Balkan categories of future, present and past.” – Jelena Tasić
  • “Mystical charge is not allowing a reader/watcher to unleash imagination but it takes him to the realm where quiet buzzing of instruments of art overcomes the need for unquestionably solid form of ordered existence. … If we speak of comics as a form of art, here is a shift from ordinary comic towards literary and visual communication too big to call the Third Argument simply a – comic book. – Slobodan Škerović
  • Wedgwood's Tea Set is a mythological quest for the meaning, told by a rich visual language and strict narrative suspense. The simulation surpasses the reality and completely compresses it into a decorative symbolism. This kind of inner emanation I only saw with Kurosawa, in Dodes'ka-den and Dreams.” – Slobodan Škerović
  • „The program gets interrupted, and a torrent of excitement starts to pour out of you (…) These stories end, and behind they leave myriad of questions with no answers. What kind of world we live in?” – Aleksandar Mićić
  • “This is a ripe, valid work which represents two talented authors for which the essence of comics media is not a secret.” – Ilija Bakić
  • “Details of the mystery of this interesting enterprise wait for each reader to discover them on his own, one by one, like some board game where one has to roll the dice with a certain number in order to reach a certain place.” – Marko Fančović
  • “Coldness of colors is in accord with ethereal characters, who are more like symbols and using the rhythm of the prose sample.” – Aleksandar Žikić, Politika, 1995
  • “Truly visually brilliant graphic novel.” – Archie Goodwin, Stripmania, 1996.
  • “All constitutes the whole which scrutinizes the ‘Balkan Question’ and relationship of the region with Europe, from historical, anthropological, psychological, mystical and political points of view, and of course, through subtly and delicately shaped metaphors, prejudice, myths, traumas, concrete experiences...” – Slobodan Ivkov, Politika, 2005.
  • “In artists like Đorđe Milović, Željko Pahek and Zoran Tucić we have contemporary draughtsman of truly international calibre.” – Paul Gravett
  • “A sensual comic Wedgwood's Tea Set of the duo Tucić and Stefanović, attracts with its colors and execution technique. It is easy to get immersed into that wonderful story (…) Fluid storytelling takes us through new turnabouts of incredible love, describing the consequential attempts and heroically accepted defeats – as well as sudden punchline, which reveals a completely different side of story. If such comics could only be created in Poland...” – Artur Dlugosz, Esensja, Poland, 2000.

„In drawer there is a manuscript rolled in tube and inserted into a leaf ripped from some graphic novel. The picture shows a bull from whose mouth drips foam. On his back ride a boy and a girl facing each other. The graphic novel is in English and has a title „Third Argument”. – Milorad Pavić (The writing box, novel, 1999.)


Zoran Tucić

Comics creator, visual artist and architect.

Born in Šabac, Serbia, 1961. Graduated from Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade with project „New Egyptian Museum, Giza, Cairo”.

With Vujadin Radovanović and Rade Tovladijac, founder of artistic group „Bauhaus 7” in Belgrade, 1981.

Published comics in Yugoslavia an ex-Yugoslav countries, Germany, USA, Netherlands, Cyprus, Italy, etc.

One of the founders of Association of Comics' Artists of Serbia (USUS) 2010 and its first president till 2015.

Important comics: „Warloch”, after scenario by Ljuan Koka, Aleksandar Timotijević and Z. Tucić; „Threads of Power Dreams”, after scenario by Ljuan Koka; „Third Argument” after the prose of Milorad Pavić and script by Zoran Stefanović, and „Adam Wild”, after script by Gianfranco Manfredi.

Milorad Pavić

„The First 21st century writer”, prose writer, poet and historian of Serbian literature from 17th – 19th century, expert on baroque and symbolism, translator of Pushkin and Byron, university professor. Born in Belgrade 1929, where he died in 2009.

Regular member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 1991, member of Société européenne de culture and Serbian PEN.

Known as writer of non-linear, interactive prose (novels, stories, plays). M. Pavić is one of the most read contemporary writers from the Balkans, translated to 36 languages in more than three hundred editions.

By the experts from Europe, USA, Israel and Brazil, Milorad Pavić was nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature.

His wife was Jasmina Mihajlović, writer and literary critic. („They will never stop loving each other. This is a life-literary story with a happy end.”)

Zoran Stefanović

Writer and international culture activist.

Born in Loznica, Serbia, 1969. Graduated dramaturgy and scenario from Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade.

Greater part of his artistic oeuvre belongs to fantasy – in theater („Slavic Orpheus”, „Story of Cosmic Egg”), comics, prose and movies. The other part of his oeuvre is of documentary nature.

His theater plays, prose and graphic novels are translated into a dozen of European languages.

He was the main founder of several international cultural networks and communities in publishing, digitalization, lexicography and pop-culture. •

На Растку објављено: 2016-08-19
Датум последње измене: 2016-08-26 23:37:15
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