7th Kraków Comic Book Festival

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  • Saturday, March 24, 2018 - Sunday, March 25, 2018

Magic Number Seven

Not only is spring just around the corner, but there’s a real chance of meeting characters from Star Wars!

The Kraków Comic Book Festival comes to the Regional Public Library at Rajska Street for the seventh time. The last weekend of March will be packed full of attractions for all fans of graphic novels and comic strips.

Let’s start with some history. Polish comics date back to 1918, emerging with the rapid growth of newspapers in the wake of independence. The strips were short stories combining drawings and rhymed text. There were also magazines and albums especially for kids; some of the all-time favourites by Kornel Makuszyński and Marian Walentynowicz remain in print until today. After the Second World War, the new communist regime was disapproving of the genre, seeing it as typical of American popular culture. Fortunately comic strips returned to papers by the 1950s, which was also when the godfathers of Polish comics, Janusz Christa and Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski, were making their debut. Work by young, independent artists blossomed after the fall of communism in 1989, but the market remained dominated by publications from abroad. The revival of Polish comics came in the late 1990s, with the launch of the “Produkt” magazine by Michał Śledziński and other publications focusing on home-grown artists. But it’s worth noting that Polish comic books don’t follow the mainstream format of the US or francophone countries. Some of the best artists working today are Mateusz Skutnik, Karol Kalinowski, Michał Śledziński, the Tomasz Leśniak and Rafał Skarżycki duo, Tomasz and Bartosz Minkiewicz, Krzysztof Gawronkiewicz, Grzegorz Janusz and Dennis Wojda, while some of the veterans of the genre include Tadeusz Baranowski, Szarlota Pawel, Jerzy Wrólewski and the aforementioned Christa and Chmielewski.

But let’s get back to the here-and now. This year’s festival features meetings with guests from Poland and abroad, exhibitions, lectures and workshops for kids and teenagers. And there is more, of course: the hugely popular comic strip battle returns, with artists racing to complete strips on a set topic. The Star Wars fan club Polish Garrison, member of the 501st Legion – Vader’s Fist international fan-based organisation, is preparing a cantina straight from Mos Eisley at Arteteka. The “Zbudujmy to!” group presents an exhibition of objects made of LEGO and hosts workshops for kids. There will also be a fair of publications from Poland and abroad. Festival guests include Jakub Rebelka, Krzysztof Gawronkiewicz, Marcin Podolec, Michał Rzecznik, Bartosz and Tomasz Minkiewicz, Aleksandra Hirszfeld and Jakub Dem Dębski. You’ll also be able to visit stands of publishers including KURC, Planeta Komiksów, Scream Comics, Blik Studio, Mandioca, Sol Invictus and Bum Projekt.

The festival is accompanied by an academic conference Myths Today and a comic book swap as part of the Second Life of Books campaign. And don’t miss the Comics Now! exhibition at the National Museum in Krakow.

The event is organised by the Kraków Comic Book Association, the Krakow Festival Office (operator of the Kraków UNESCO City of Literature programme) and the Regional Public Library in Kraków. (Barbara Zając, Karnet magazine)

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