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Here and Now - Contemporary Czech comic strip

11. 09. 2020







[NL] Tsjechisch stripverhaal heeft zich nog nooit zo dynamisch en zo lang zonder onnodige inmenging van buitenaf ontwikkeld. Als gevolg hiervan is de locale scène de afgelopen twee decennia getuige geweest van drie golven van kunstenaars die de kans hebben gehad om vrijelijk te creëren en te publiceren. Hun situatie werd enigszins beperkt door de omvang van de Tsjechische markt en het feit dat de lokale tradities zo lang waren onderbroken; toch is de Tsjechische strip dankzij hen diverser dan ooit en kan zijn eerste internationale succes vieren.

 

[ENG] Never before have Czech comics developed so dynamically and for so long without undue interference from outside. As a result, over the past two decades the local scene has witnessed three waves of artists who have had the opportunity to freely create and publish. Their situation has been somewhat restricted by the size of the Czech market and the fact that there had been such a long interruption in the local traditions; nevertheless, thanks to them the Czech comics is more diverse than ever and is celebrating its first international successes.

FEATURED ARTISTS + QnA
(c) Czech Centres

Pavel Čech 

Does it happen to you that you are taken aback by the reaction of your readers somewhere far in the distance? That your comics appeal to them in a different way than you expected?

 

During those years, I’ve had a few reflections from the world concerning my comics but I don’t really remember any curiosities in terms of how people understand my work. I often wondered how someone from a different culture could understand things that stem from my personal experiences which are inevitably influenced by the cultural environment, films, reading... In fact, it is a mystery that people are so similar, that something as fragile as humour works in a similar way and is based on the same principles all over the world. 


 

Jiří Grus

Here and Now is for you—at least according to the one-page comic—a milestone in partnership when you can no longer hide from all those grievances under the table. Should this be understood as a parable on the state of the world?

 

I am interested in the ground state—the connection between a man and a woman. How to put up with the daily routine at home when unpleasant or long-hidden things come out and all rational safety locks fail. If it is true that we develop the world according to the degree of our consciousness, this is the fundamental issue for me.


(c) Czech Centres
Translation of the comic strip  When it started again
We just crouched in the corner of the room
I remembered the time when we were buying the table together
And these handkerchiefs
Yeah, she did the
graphics for the box
But this time everything was different
We were surprised by the enormous destructive power of grievance
that we recalled from the past
(c)Czech Centres

Karel Jerie

As an adult person, do you ever become fascinated like a child when reading a comic takes you from Here and Now to a completely different place?

 

Yes, it still works. I even feel that it is starting to work the other way around and that fantastic stories are revived in my everyday life. Fantasy and reality are not two separate worlds. They intertwine and form an inseparable unity. Symbolic stories come to life in reality through archetypes which are the basis of every good story. Children live in this fantastic reality. This childhood ability needs to be fostered and protected!

 


You idiot, what are you doing there? Don’t you see the red light?
I could have run over you! What the hell were you thinking about?
Sorry, I was daydreaming a bit...
Pah! He’s kidding me. Daydreaming... I would send him to the factory.
He would stop fantasizing there! All that exists is here and now.
Uhm, Mr. Diver, you missed the bus stop, I want to get off.
Silence in the decks below! I’m not stopping for anybody! You’d better pull harder!!!
← Translation of the comic strip

Štěpánka Jislová 

Your comic may appear a little enigmatic to the reader: there are tons of misunderstandings and political conflicts but at the same time, you can find a sort of cohesion, a willingness for personal engagement. Do you think that comics can help contemporary society overcome barriers and gaps?

 

One of the most interesting genres of the contemporary comic is the autobiography where a comic as a medium can really show off. The author works on a story that he/she has experienced. As a script writer, the author has all of the material and thanks to a direct connection between the hand and the head, the paper captures the experience in an undiluted form. These are the inner stories that can build bridges. Bridges that can only be built by empathy and understanding.


(c) Czech Centres
(c) Czech Centres

Lucie Lomová 

What is the greatest adventure you can experience when reading a comic?

 

When reading a comic you can: - fall asleep and: / - have no dreams / - experience adventure in a dream / - bump your head into a pole and: / - nothing happens to you / - be transported to the hospital where you will experience adventure / - miss your bus stop and: / - lose a lot of time / - arrive in an unknown land where you will experience adventure /

... and a few other possibilities.


Vojtěch Mašek 

In your comics there are often motives of uncontrolled organic growth. Does this reflect your typical creative method?

 

I think so. My work is often triggered by a picture or a photograph. This generates the story. Then the plot grows organically and develops this impulse. At the same time, one of my topics is the other perspective of everyday reality and revealing its parallel aspects, something that could be called the hidden world behind the mirror.


(c) Czech Centres
(c) Czech Centres

Karel Osoha 

When you draw entertaining comic strips do you ever think that instead of doing this you should be more active in correcting the world?

 

I don’t know whether this is laziness or my natural shyness but I don’t feel like doing direct charitable deeds. I’m not deluded about my character. Well, I think I should do it but I won’t. On the other hand, I know how many things of the same type that I create (maybe this is the reason why I started creating and persisted in it) have helped me or made my life more enjoyable. Hopefully, this will also work with other people.


Marek Rubec 

Do you think that comics could help mankind stop

cutting its own throat?

 

It would be beautiful if comics had such a magical power! I’m trying to be optimistic and I believe the time of comic books is yet to come. Comics could become an instigating medium just as film used to be. When worse times come, we may remember the miraculous powers of Spider Man, the strength and explosive energy of Hulk or Obelix, the courage of Tintin, the inventions of Mr. Semtamtuk, the practical rationality of Fifinka, as well as the coherence and good deeds of the Rapid Arrows. This can inspire us in the fight against all evil that surrounds us. Unfortunately, I remain sceptical (although I have a gleam of hope).


(c) Czech Centres
(c) Czech Centres

Lenka Šimečková 

If you didn't have to live Here and Now, which epoch would you choose?

 

Historical epochs are treacherous because we tend to idealize many things in them while others are demonized. I would choose something that appears to be a safe option, a time before the world even existed, before the big bang, just to be some abstract energy without worries, flying in empty space.


Jaromír Švejdík 

Your Here and Now comic captures a dream with all of its ghostly and ungraspable logic. Is the comic a good medium for you to capture dreams?

 

I love comics because it is an absolutely free medium. There is free communication with the recipient. In fact, the comic can be used to view reality through a crooked mirror, coloured glass and everything in it becomes a dream. I like to destroy the boundaries between reality and dreams.


(c) Czech Centres

European Comic Strip Weekend (online programme) - https://bit.ly/35qstZ7

Find more on the Czech Comic Strip in Dutch in Strigids#5 (published in May 2019).

CURATORS of the exhibition

Pavel Kořínek 

Pavel Kořínek (1981) works as a researcher at the Institute of Czech Literature CAS and is also a comics theorist, historian and journalist. From 2010 to 2012 he was the principal investigator for the Czech Science Foundation grant project Comics: History and Theory, whose main outputs were the two-volume History of 20th Century Czechoslovak Comics, 2014, co-authored with Tomáš Prokůpek, Martin Foret and Michal Jareš, and the introductory monograph In Panels and Speech Balloons: Chapters from the Theory of Comics, together with Martin Foret and Michal Jareš, 2015. In recent years he has edited lengthy books about the series Punťa (2018, with Lucie Kořínková) and Čtyřlístek (2019). He has worked as a curator and editor on the exhibition projects Signals from the Unknown. Czech Comics 1922–2012, Brno – Prague – Pardubice, 2012 and 2013, 100 Years of Czech Comics (Tokyo, 2017 and 2018) and Meanwhile, Elsewhere, 2018–2019, an exhibition organized by Czech Centres and presented in more than 30 venues). He is a founding member of the Centre for the Study of Comics. He has taught courses on the history and theory of Czech comics at Charles University and Masaryk University and reviews modern comics and translated prose for the fortnightly journal A2. He has also chaired the board of the Czech Academy of Comics since 2018.

 

Tomáš Prokůpek

Tomáš Prokůpek (1975) is head of the Department of the History of Literature at the Moravian Museum in Brno and specializes in the history of Central European comics up to the present day. He contributed to the publications A History of 20th Century Czechoslovak Comics (with Pavel Kořínek, Martin Foret and Michal Jarešem, 2015) and Before Comics: The Development of the Czech Strip Cartoon in the Second Half of the 19th Century (with Martin Foret, 2016). He oversaw the publication of the collective monograph Ondřej Sekora: Ants and other Works (2019). He has curated exhibition projects including Signals from the Unknown, Czech Comics 1922–2012 (Brno – Prague – Pardubice, 2012–2013) and Meanwhile, Elsewhere – 100 Years of Czech Comics (Jerusalem – Kiev – Manila – Sofia – Seoul, 2018–2020). He was the driving force behind the exhibitions Generation Zero, The New Wave of Czech and Slovak Comics (Brno – Prague – Paris – Stockholm, 2007–2009) and Ferda the Ant and his creator Ondřej Sekora (Paris – Warsaw – Tokyo, 2017–2019). He is a member of the Centre for the Studies of Comics and editor of the comics revue AARGH!

 

 

This project follows on from the previous exhibition Meanwhile, Elsewhere – 100 Years of Czech comics.

 

Initiator and organizer Czech Centres

Partners Institute of Czech Literature CAS, Moravian Museum in Brno

Project manager Anna Hrabáčková

Curators and authors of texts Pavel Kořínek, Tomáš Prokůpek

Graphic design Magdalena Prudíková

Translation Graeme and Suzanne Dibble