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Comic Strips. The Eight Decades of Polish Comics

The world of comics is over a hundred years old. Over these years, it has earned the titre of art (popular art). As a matter of fact, comics were recognised as an art by the Federal Court in Bridgeport, United States, where on 2 May 1969 eleven jurors decided that “comics were a work of art”. The ruling came about because Mort Walker made a donation to a certain library which consisted of some original drawings and only after they were declared a work of art he could be granted a tax exemption.

The first works in the style of comics were published by American press. They were satires and mockeries (which was the reason behind the name - comics), initially focusing on political subjects and only for adult readers. With the passing of time, the range of topics was expanded, which also increased the potential audience.

In our country comics have similar origins (and name). They first appeared in the newspapers as political and social satires narrated using both texts and illustrations. According to some historians, the first graphical stories may have been published as early as in 1858 which would mean that this form is 157 years old! But nowadays we cannot refer to these works as “comics”. The first picture stories were substantially different from what we now consider as “legitimate” comics. They did not feature any speech balloons, which are spaces isolated by a contour where the characters’ statements are presented, and which now constitute the most recognizable element of comics worldwide. But the most important feature that combines all the relevant characteristics of this genre is that the image and the text need to be complementary. Before, illustrations could exist separately from the text, and the text could be printed apart from the illustrations (usually below). So, in our search for real Polish comics, with all the classical features characteristic for this form, we need to focus on 1935, when the first story of this kind was published in the “Mały Dzienniczek” (“Small Journal”). As a consequence, today we can celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Polish comics.

Our Polish comics have much to offer, including some rich and interesting history. This is the subject of our exhibition. We have put together some of the best and often unique materials on comics accompanied by anecdotes and digressions related to their creators and their work. We will also disclose some secrets of the masters (most of them for the very first time!). We will present the comic works or art within the context of the history of our country. In our exhibition venue filled with original objects from the past, we will travel back in time to the 1930s. Next, we will take you on a journey through the PRL (socialist) period until today. You will also have the opportunity for a souvenir photo with Tytus, Romek
and A’Tomek. These memorable characters created by Papcio Chmiel will present the entire history of the Polish comics.

You are very welcome to visit the „Comic Strips. Eight Decades of the Polish Comics” exhibition and meet captains Żbik and Kloss, Kajko and Kokosz, Professor Nerwosolek, Wiedźmin (The Witcher), and all the top comic strip characters.




Designed: Jimpenny / Programmed: FreshData