Posts Tagged ‘Czech’

The Monster cabaret of Fred Brunold, suggests newspaper Dnes, is what would come about if Kafka were to direct film noir. This may not top of the list of those things which might revulse Kafka’s ghost were he to pace back and forth in Old Town square today, but neither would it be one of those creative works which could not have existed without him and of which he could justifiably be proud.

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We last looked at Lucie Lomová’s first graphic novel, Anna Chce Skočit, or Anna Wants to Jump. Published first in French, it’s Czech edition won the Komiks Fest Muriel Award and the Zlatá Stuha, or Gold Ribbon, on the year of its release. Its success persuaded its French publisher Edition L’an 2 to commission a second, more ambitious and, since it is full colour, financially riskier graphic novel, Divoši, or Savages. Her talent now fully recognised at home, the Czech edition, which, I believe to have been published this time concurrently with the French, was supported financially by the Czech Ministry of Culture and to my knowledge remains the only domestic full colour adult graphic novel. (more…)

Unwittingly, I have known Lucie Lomová’s work for years. A few weeks back I posted on Hrdý Budžes, a book that was gifted to me a few years ago, and which I have translated into English, something which means I have spent more time with it than perhaps any other book (with the possible exception of a number of guides to programming BASIC for Acorn microcomputers which I carried around with me obsessively as a child). The illustration on the front of the book, of Helenka, the eight year old hero of the piece, walking through the snow in her home town of Ničín with a lantern held out on a stick in front of her casting a long shadow behind her, red stars in the sky above, is pitch perfect. I discovered a few days ago that this illustration was by Lucie Lomová after reading her first graphic novel, Anna Chce Skočit, Anna Wants to Jump.

A couple of weeks back, I stumbled upon the Sheldon-friendly comic shop, Comics Point, near Jířího z Poděbrad, a couple of hundred metres away from the famous television tower. Mentioning the comics exhibition at DOX, I asked for some Czech graphic novels, perhaps something like Alois Nebel. The guy behind the counter was helpful and picked out a few examples for me to look over. There was Kája Saudek, a huge spread-out-FT-sized album brought down from the top shelf with some ceremony, and the usual “of course” I have now heard every time his name is mentioned (”he would have been as famous as Walt Disney were he not born in Communist Czechoslovakia” claims a quote on the Kája Saudek museum, and whilst this is clearly hyperbolic, from the evidence I have seen so far it is far from being absurd and, since it may be technically easier to write prose for the shelf and publish it as samizdat abroad than to stockpile, copy or hide comics, it may prove to be the case that the impact of totalitarianism on Saudek’s output is one of the greater artist tragedies of Czechoslovak history). Saudek then, is something I will certainly look into as soon as I have the money. Stylistically though, his work appears to be varied, but I might describe it as the action film school of comics, and I was looking for something a little different. I looked over the others he had brought down. One was, stylistically, simply not my cup of tea, I remember little about it aside from there being a bunch of heavy metal album cover style post-apocalypse gas masks or some such. Might be great but I didn’t see myself getting on with it. There was then a couple from Lucie Lomová. The first, Anna Chce Skočit, Anna Wants to Jump, was familiar. I vaguely recall looking over it in Palác Kníh bookshop in one of my regular hunts for graphic novels on my holidays in Prague after moving back to Britain in 2005. I always bought something back, and asked others to do the same, but, as I tended for a long time to be more assiduous in my struggles with the Czech language than my efforts to familiarise myself with its literature, it was most often something translated into Czech. I waited impatiently for every book of David B’s L’Ascension du haut mal, Epileptic, for instance, and for Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to come out in Czech translation. At some point I must have looked over Anna Wants to Jump and decided against it. I looked over it now, liked the style and theme of the first pages and put it aside as a possible. Another, Divoši, Savages, by the same author was a little thicker, possibly a little more demanding on the finances, and full colour. I don’t know why but with newspaper cartoons and graphic novels both, I have always tended to prefer monochrome – my favourite artists, from Craig Thompson to Marjane Satrapi, David B and Seth, all have tended to work in monochrome or grey scales. I cast an eye over the lot and plumped for Anna Wants to Jump. As much as anything, I was in the mood for a female protagonist. (more…)

For all the procrastination and wasted time, Twitter occasionally pays off. In that it can resemble the occasional revelations and opportunities thrown up by idle conversation and ‘cafe culture’ (whatever that is) more than the thumb twiddling brain-altering dopamine-stimming pez dispense cornucopia of whirling superficiality I usually take it to be. I remain ambivalent, but anything that puts me in touch with people I can see eye to eye with is no bad thing when I often struggle with this in what I perhaps ought not to call the real world without loading the dice.

Twitter put me on to German graphic artist, Clara Roethe when I was really struggling to find like-minded folk, surrounded by gregregious uber-psyched-extroverted-adrenalin types on the one side and drunk or perma-stoned small market town types on the other in North Wales a couple of years back, and so whatever may be its addictive qualities and drawbacks, I can say of it much as Winston Churchill said of alcohol, that I have taken more out of Twitter than Twitter has taken out of me. (more…)

I begin this piece in the cafe of the Theatre Divadlo bez zábradlí waiting for the beginning of a production of Hrdý Budžes, a novel and play the author, Irena Dousková, would, according to her website, have translated into English as B. Proudew. This, like many a translation between languages as divergent as are Czech and English, is both ingenious and flawed. My own solution, Proud Beethachoo, is at first sight at least, clumsy. Not perhaps so ingenious, it nonetheless makes the hero of the piece sound less like an accountant, less like an English name (Budžes itself does not sound like a Czech name), and more like the mangling of a phrase heard on the school radio by a clever, worrisome little girl with a surplus of imagination, which is what we discover him to be. (more…)

I’m going to try and write a quick, more sober, look at things today, avoiding some of the histrionics that come out of me the times I am drawn to purge myself of some of the bile, bitterness, resentments, frustrations, anger and self-hatred that come up from time to time negotiating life as an intelligent, creative, high functioning autistic.

I have been back from Prague for almost a month now. It has gone quickly. In that time I have adjusted not at all to being back. I have settled not at all. I have thrown myself into one thing and another, trying to build a kind of structure around me. I have, to this end, written a lot of pieces for a rather quixotic application for a position on a respected left wing political journal. I have read a fair amount of Czech, trying to improve my level. I have met up with a girl around here who wants to work on some songs, me playing guitar, she singing.

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