BD la Centrul Ceh / 31 ianuarie / 20h00


Seara BD la Centrul Ceh
31 ianuarie / 20h00

Lansarea revistei Aargh!
Expozitie BD Alexandru Ciubotariu
O scurta istorie BD in Romania cu Dodo Nita, presedintele asociatiei BD Romania.

Este interesant cum avem mult mai multe date si referinte despre banda desenata franco-belgiana (de exemplu), decat despre benzile desenate din tarile vecine noua.
In 2006, Centrul Ceh a adus in Romania o echipa de autori si de editori de banda desenata din Cehia. A fost, dupa cunostinta mea, prima intalnire adevarata, intru-un cadru oficial, a benzilor desenate din Cehia si a celor din Romania. O buna ocazie pentru ambele parti de a descoperi universul BD al celeilalte tari. In ciuda barierei lingvistice, universul BD din cele doua spatii geografice are multe puncte tangentiale.

In urma acestei intalniri a inceput o colaborare fructuoasa, astfel ca, editorii revistei “Aargh!” (o spectaculoasa aparitie anuala specializata in BD) au hotarat ca numarul pe 2007 sa fie dedicat  benzii desenate romanesti. In “Aargh!” sunt publicate benzi desenate romanesti cu traducere, o istorie a BD in Romania si un profil de autor, al subsemnatului.
Profitam de aceasta ocazie, in care vom lansa revista in Romania, pentru a va propune o seara de banda desenata la Centrul Ceh. Pe langa lansarea efectiva, eu voi expune pagini de banda desenata din revista si nu numai, iar pentru cei mai sceptici vom face chiar si o scurta istorie a benzii desenate din Romania, urmata desigur de discutii pe aceasta tema.

de Alexandru Ciubitariu

Revista AARGH! a aparut in 2000 din doua motive. Primul a fost ambitia de a reusi sa cream o platforma pentru creatorii cehi de banda desenata, iar cel de-al doilea dorinta de a contracara avalansa de publicatii de banda desenata americana din Cehia. AARGH! a inceput ca un fanzin alb-negru publicat pe hartie proasta dar a ajuns repede o revista color cu 100 de pagini de banda desenata si texte teoretice. Pe langa rubricile fixe fiecare numar este dedicat unei alte tari din fostul bloc comunist. Creatorii de banda desenata din aceasta regiune desi foarte valorosi, sunt destul de necunoscuti. Prin prezentarea scenei BD din alte tari incercam sa cream paralele si punti de comunicare cu scena autohtona. Dupa intalnirea din Bucuresti din vara lui 2006, am decis sa dedicam ultimul numar al revistei Romaniei. 

de Tomas Kucerovsky



aa7.jpgThe birth of the magazine AARGH! in 2000 had two main reasons. One was the ambition to become a platform for young Czech creators of comics and the second to be a counterweight to the rather big publishing wave of American action comics in the Czech Republic. AARGH! began as a black and white fanzine printed on bad paper and grew into a prestigious review with more than 100 pages (partially color) which contains both comics and theoretical texts. Every issue has several fixed sections like contemporary and historical Czech comics, and a presentation of the comic scene from another country from the former eastern bloc. The creators from this part of Europe are mostly absolutely unknown but their work is very inspired, innovative and fresh.
We try to create parallels between the development of comics tradition in these countries and the Czech Republic. After the comics meeting in Bucharest, in the summer of 2006, we decided to concentrate the last issue of AARGH! on Romania.

de Thomas Kucerovsky


Comics are still trying to find their place in the Czech and Slovak culture. To the present day they have been struggling with the label of triviality, with their automatic pigeonholing among and between the literary genres. Their “nesting” in domestic culture has been lasting for a good hundred years; nevertheless, after the last big crash of comics in the mid-90s, the Czech and Slovak comics industry, to a considerable degree, finds itself back at the beginning again, starting over from zero.

The Struggle for a Place in the Sun
Protocomics forms first appeared in the territory of what would become Czechoslovakia in the last quarter of the 19th century. The earliest Czech comics with word balloons were created by Josef Lada and Karel Stroff in the first decade of the 20th century, while the earliest Slovak comics were written and drawn by Jaroslav Vodrazka in the 1920s. However, the conservative environment of the First Republic was very slow in accepting the new form, and for many years gave preference to its more traditional version: sequences of images accompanied by simple rhymes. In spite of that, such artists as Ondřej Sekora, Ladislav Vlodek, René Klapač and Emil Posledník managed to establish themselves. All of them at least for a time experimented with word balloons, and they were all (with perhaps the exception of Posledník) further linked by having spent a significant portion of their lives abroad, thanks to which they were able to deepen their knowledge of comics.
The first real breakthrough in terms of quality and commercial success came only with the release of Jaroslav Foglar and Jan Fischer’s Rychlé šípy (Fast Arrows) at the close of 1938. The subsequent wave of comics projects in response to this newly-sparked phenomenon was, however, soon smothered by the Nazi occupation. Immediately after the war, Czechoslovak comics tried to take a second breath, but the Communist dictatorship (which came to power in 1948) quickly stemmed the form’s hoped-for development once again. The newly-revived Fast Arrows first lost its word balloons, only to be banned completely soon afterwards. The same fate befell practically all the other comics series, and the accursed “imperialist trash” eked out in this country for nearly 20 years.
A new level of quality was at last introduced to Czech comics by Kája Saudek, the first artist to create stories aimed at an older reader. He was well acquainted with the development of comics abroad, was the first artist in this country to manage to fully employ perspective and lettering in his work, and his ability to interconnect the fascination by comics worlds with ironic aloofness was unprecedented. A Slovak figure of comparable significance was Jozef Schek, who could go back and forth between a realistic and caricaturist drawing styles with remarkable skill. As a comic strip artist, he had a long decade to wait for someone as talented to follow his lead. It’s significant in this regard that Saudek published a series of comics in Slovak, while Schek did the same in Czech.

The next fundamental breakthrough in comics was brought about by the gradual weakening of the regime in the late 80s and its subsequent fall. The comics sluice gates were opened wide, and in Czechoslovakia there first appeared a group of creators – similar in age and to a considerable degree in their opinions – who collectively came to be called Generation 89.
For the sake of simplicity and brevity, we can describe the Czechoslovak comics creator of that period as the following: He was born in the 50s or 60s and his art education didn’t go past high school. He was captivated by Fast Arrows, loved the painter and illustrator Zdeněk Burian and fell definitively under comics’ spell after encountering the work of Kája Saudek or Jozef Schek. Seeking his own personal style, he was inspired by the French comics of his childhood (these were relatively available thanks to the French Communist Party journal Pif Gadget, launched in 1969). Later he joined one of the sci-fi clubs, or became a member of a Czech tramping group (a sort of “back to nature” movement). In the late 80s he managed to win the Bemik comics competition a few times, and started trying to get himself published in the official press. Thematically, he liked to start from literary models, in witty science fiction or adventure stories. At the beginning of the 90s, he eagerly enrolled in the Czechoslovak Comics Club and published his work in the magazines Kometa (Comet) or Bublinky (Bubbles), as well as in some of the children’s journals slowly going bust at the time. After the breakdown of distribution and bankruptcy of a absolute majority of the periodicals favorable to comics, he took a step back into seclusion, and looks on current happenings with a certain skepticism.
Czech representatives of this generation include Libor Balák, Richard Broschardt, Bohumil Fencl, Jiří Grbavčic, Vladimír Hanuš, Lubomír Hlavsa, Jiří Hrdlička, Jana Komárková, Jan Patrik Krásný, Štěpán Mareš, Libor Páv, Dan Růžička, Miroslav Schönberg, Vladimír Tučapský or Karel Zeman. Among the Slovaks we can count Pavol Bratský, Viktor Csiba, Ladislav Csurma, Milan Dubnický, Feďo Fiala, Jozef Gertli Danglár, Ľudovít Mikula, Juraj Maxon, František Mráz, Martina Pilcerová, Peter Stankovič and others.
Still, we regret to say that Generation 89 in essence failed. To a significant degree we can lay the blame on the external conditions and chaotic changes in the society, although it’s also true that this group of artists never managed to find a formula which could appeal to a wider public. Of the authors mentioned, practically only two remained active in comics: Mareš and Danglár. Both avoided fantasy subjects and made their careers in caricature and political satire – though Mareš didn’t even manage to unseat Kája Saudek from his imaginary throne and Danglár, too, never made the most of his talents.

The near-total vacuum for comics, ushered in by the first half of the 90s, was only filled through the efforts of the publisher Crew (Bloood), which began systematically releasing Anglo-American production; later the translation of Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus certainly helped in gradual changing attitudes toward the stories with speech balloons.

The year 2000 was key in the rebirth of the Czech comics scene: the “double-album” Ruddy/O Kutilce (Ruddy/D.I.Y. Girl) by Pavel Čech and Tomáš Jirků was published, and the first issue of a magazine called AARGH! appeared, which was supported by a similarly oriented magazine Pot (Sweat) issued immediatelly the following year. In Slovakia it was the 2002 comic anthology Vemeno (The Udder), which undertook the job of being the pioneer, and an important role was also played by the anthology Adamantium, which saw the light of day four years later.
Czech and Slovak comics started coming back to life – and the so-called Generation Zero answered the call. We can describe its typical representative this way: He was born in the 70s or 80s and studied art at university. He began absorbing comics at a tender age, when he would regularly encounter them in children’s journals. Later he moved on to Kometa or Bublinky, he feels no great need though to limit himself to works of the previous generation or to domestic classics. He speaks English, and so thanks to the Internet, accessible foreign publications and translated series he keeps abreast of the current development in comics, especially in the Anglo-American sphere. He writes and draws his own scripts, in the course of which he often gives precedence to experimentation over narrative. At first he was fascinated by the visual appeal of fantasy subject matter, but gradually he abandoned it, seeking instead to integrate his surrounding reality into his work. He hadn’t experienced the time when comics were a well-paid job, so he debuted his work in some small-circulation niche journal or e-zine; only occasionally does he succeed in publishing his comics work in a paying journal. He makes his living as a storyboard artist for an ad agency or as a creator of graphic designes for computer games. He’s published a short story or two in neighboring countries and is trying to find a way to break into the French or US scenes.
Generation Zero is the strongest group of authors that Czech and Slovak comics have ever seen. This is why the catalog and exhibit, strictly speaking, can only present a limited portion of a much more extensive whole. Our goal was to select a representative sample which is to convey the diversity of the domestic industry.
Whatever success Generation Zero achieves, it’s still too early to evaluate it. Nevertheless, today we can already trace a new trend which is bringing a qualitative change to the Czech/Slovak scene: the graphic novel. Besides Jaroslav Rudiš and Jaromír Švejdík’s trilogy Alois Nebel, well-known from the media thanks to its exceptional publicity, several other projects yielding nothing to it in quality have appeared and continue to appear – first and foremost Oskar Ed by writer/artist Branko Jelinek, the cycle Minstrkabaret Freda Brunolda (Fred Brunold’s Monstercabaret) from the workshop of Džian Baban and Vojtěch Mašek and the series Voleman by Jiří Grus. (In this regard we should also mention the graphic novel Anna chce skočit (Anna Wants to Jump) by the middle-aged writer/artist Lucie Lomová.) All the aforementioned works are further linked by a greater emphasis on psychological realism, stories unfolding on a grand scale and black & white rendering (mainly given the economic pressures of publishing). Only time will tell whether the contribution of Generation Zero will be enough to finally free Czech and Slovak comics from its vicious circle.