Issue 17, May 2014:
Picturebooks / Poemix
Table of contents
Comics is still surrounded by opinions that do not reflect reality and repeat stereotypes
and banalities, requiring corrections and explanations, not only outside of the comic book
community, but within it as well. On one hand we have hurtful, sometimes plain stupid,
statements that are based on a lack of knowledge, on the other hand - the realization that
the word "comics" encompasses forms of art that can be so different that, when put side by
side, they force the reader to question how they can possibly seen as related. The latter
may lead to the belief in the unique and autonomous character of comics.
It is intuition that largely is the source of such opinions. It causes us to feel that
we stay within a certain tradition - or transgress it, going off the beaten path. It also
pushes us to see (or not) the relatedness of different genres and artistic activities.
Conscious of it all, and also of the multitude of possible types of relations of image
and text, we decided to go beyond the strict frames of comics.
Picture books, illustrated text, iconotext - such terms are often repeated on the pages
of this issue. They build an old / new context and remind us that comics belongs to the
vast universe of visual arts and is but a small element of it. This realization forces us
to discuss the place of comics in the field of visual communication. We hoping that going
beyond the narrow and arbitrary definitions, often imposed by clearly prejudiced individuals,
will open new perspectives for the field of comics research - and for the art of comics in
We are also drawing our readers’ attention to poemics and abstract comics, i.e. art forms
that constantly inspire us to asking questions about the boundaries, relationships and
differences between genres. The increasing popularity of such works and their growing
recognition as comics must also pose questions about the direction of future development
of sequential art.
We would like to thank Prof. Jerzy Szyłak whose contribution to the creation of this
issue of our magazine and to the quality of the published content was fundamental.
Please enjoy this issue of ‟Zeszyty Komiksowe”,
Michał Błażejczyk and Michał Traczyk
Table of Contents
Design: Dennis Wojda
Cover art: Maciej Sieńczyk
Picture Books / Poemics
Notes About Picture Books
When analyzing definitions and reviews of picture books it becomes clear that to
a large degree they overlap with definitions of comics, and also that the authors of those
definitions and reviews make an effort not to notice this fact. Comics cannot be completely
separated from picture books. What connects them is the fact that they are both iconotexts
and that they form stories in which the more important (sometimes - main, occasionally -
unique) medium of creating meaning is the image. The basis of their differentiation
can be only the fact that comics are a special form of picture books: rules that
govern them are more codified than in other picture books. It means that every comics is
a picture book, but not all picture books are comics. However, the boundaries between
these two notions are fluid and there is a constant exchange of artistic experiences.
[Read full text in Polish - PDF, 1.1 MB]
Picturebooks and Comics
Picturebooks and comic books seem to share both differences and similarities.
Rather than delineating clear and rigid boundaries between these two genres, this
article views the differences as secondary and rather superficial while similarities as
primary and vital. It is the author’s belief that such a perspective bridges the gap
between comics and picturebooks studies and furthers research in visual literature.
What Has Doctor Syntax Found? Rowlandson, Töpffer and The Beginnings of ‟Littérature en Estampes”
This article concerns two pioneers of comics from the nineteenth century: Thomas
Rowlandson and Rodolphe Töpffer. It shows how the illustrated poem entitled
Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque
influenced the development of the so-called littérature en estampes,
an early form of graphic novel, thereby stimulating further development of comics.
This article also points out the great diversity of comics genres in past centuries.
Randolph Caldecott’s The Milkmaid
The author presents in great detail the short illustrated book by Randolph
Caldecott entitled The Milkmaid, first published
in 1878. He then compares it to Agnes-Margrethe Bjorvand’s picture book version
of Astrid Lindgren’s short story Mirabelle in order
to point out and analyze the distrust that many writers feel towards adding
illustrations to their work, especially strong after the end of the 19th century
when purist tendencies started to dominate over creative mixing of art forms.
Grignotin et Mentalo - A Comics?
The Polish publisher of Grignotin et Mentalo
by Delphine Bournay does all in its power to hide the fact that this children’s
picture book is in fact a comics. The author of this article believes that it
should be viewed as a comic book instead.
Where Is The Cake?
Thé Tjong-Khing’s picture book The Birthday Cake Mystery
can be seen as an introduction into storytelling for the youngest. Telling several stories
with pictures, in parallel, is a technique that lends itself into verbalization only with
difficulty - but it can be understood naturally even by very young children, without any
prior knowledge of the presented events.
Note Number 8, Or The Answer to Dr Cackowska’s Article
This article is Prof. Szyłak’s response to Dr. Cackowska’s article. The author believes,
that their debate is centered primarily around nomenclature and as such it could
be easily transformed into an enriching conversation ‟about books and how the
truth, the beauty and the good manifest in them”. In fact, the two researchers have
since decided to join forces and write a book about picture books together.
[Read full text in Polish - PDF, 215 KB]
A Short Guide to Picture Books Published in Poland Between 2010 and 2013
The author provides insightful synopsis and analyses of all picture books published in
Poland in the period mentioned in the title.
In Which Direction Does Maszin Move?
The author analyzes the works of the Polish group of comics creators called Maszin and
points out that calling them avant-garde - as many critics have done - does not make
sense in the post-modern reality we live in. Instead, what should be analyzed are
their individual creations, ways in which they employ avant-gardist techniques
and ideas, as well as their weaknesses.
Comics Is Just a Convenient Term
This is an interview with Maciej Sieńczyk, a popular Polish artist whose creations
fall somewhere between comics, picture books, illustration, and literature. Some
of his absurd, ironic and melancholic stories, drawn in a very particular, modern
style, will soon be published in English.
Anthologies of Poemics
This article presents several anthologies of poemics. This publishing form served
in this case not only as a stimulation for authors but also as a tool to promote the art
of poemics. Some see poemics as a genre within comics, others as a separate art form,
and others yet as a type of visual poetry. The anthologies, even though somewhat uneven
in quality of the presented works, showcased poemics very successfully but at the same
time demonstrated its low popularity.
Jęzor [The Tongue]
Abstract Comics from a Few Different Angles
The author offers a wide-angled, even if brief, introduction to the history and the
most important achievements in various subgenres of sequential art related to
abstract comics, e.g. visual poetry and poemics, graphic novels without text,
asemic writing rebus puzzles etc.
Comics from Beyond Comics
This article is a review of Tim Gaze’s abstract graphic novel entitled
100 Scenes - a graphic novel like no other.
Responsibility for a Billion Lines
Przemysław Truściński was the greatest comics revelation of the 1990’s
in Poland. A master of the short form and illustration, but never interested in
albums, he has been active in many fields of art ever since. This article is a review
of the biggest exposition of Truściński’s works, organized by four modern art
galleries in Poland in 2013 and 2014.
From the Depths of Comics History: Inhabited Island
In the Soviet Union comics were a rare phenomenon.
Inhabited Island was a comics based on the novel by Arkady and
Boris Strugatsky, also known as Prisoners of Power.
In Poland it was published in the ‟Młodość” (‟Youth”) magazine. The story follows the adventures
of a young cosmonaut who is forced to land on an unexplored planet and to adapt to
an authoritarian political regime there. The extraordinary resilience of the protagonist
made him a person of interest of the regime but also of the small opposition movement.
Zabiję Cię [I Will Kill You]
Ladislav Lodek: Czech Comics Pioneer with Polish Roots
Ladislav Vlodek and the magazine ‟Koule”
have a special position in the Czech comics history. In the 1920s, they offered a very
progressive form of the medium to the Czechoslovak readers but unfortunately
they came before their time and were ultimately rejected by the public. Early
in his life Vlodek spent several years in America where he was exposed to comics
which greatly helped him develop a very mature drawing and storytelling style.
Signals From the Czech Republic
This article is a review of Signals From the Unknown. Czech Comics 1922-2012,
edited by Tomáš Prokůpek and Pavel Kořinek and published in 2012.
In Search of Wojciech Wolak, or a short treatise between Zaruba, Gałczyńska, Arno, and Janczyk - A Research Thriller
The author recounts his unsuccessful attempt to find a pre-war comic strip
attributed to Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, a famous Polish poet, at the same time demonstrating
how ‟literary myths” are created. The article ends with a passionate plea
for the exercise of caution when arriving to research conclusions based on memoirs
- and for the intellectual honesty of researchers studying the history of comics.
by Beata Sosnowska
, Marta Zabłocka
, An Fau
and Agata Chełstowska
List of Comics Published by Polish Authors