All posts by Centrala

Adventures on a Desert Island

Author:

Maciej Sieńczyk

Translation: Ewa Lipińska
Format: 220 x 297mm
Hardcover
148 pages
Colour
ISBN: 978-0-9929082-2-5

Adventures on a Desert Island

Adventures on a Desert Island is the first comic book to be nominated and shortlisted for the NIKE Literary Award, the most important and recognised literary award in Poland.

Woken up from a catastrophic dream, a man finds a diary behind his front door and starts to read it. He follows a story of a man who embarked on a cruise to Africa. The ship was sunk by a tsunami but he survived and found himself on a mysterious desert island. The plot is composed of strange stories whose peculiar character is highlighted by the author’s stylised language.
A journey into the unknown provides an opportunity to show the true face of modern man whose life remains unchanged even after a disaster. There is an inherent fallibility to Sieńczyk’s characters, as well as inability and unwillingness to change. Stranded on a desert island, they don’t take any action – they simply recount incredible stories and wait to be carried along by the tides of fate.

Maciej Sieńczyk (born in 1972) – Polish graphic artist, illustrator, comic book creator. He has worked for major literary and cultural magazines (Lampa, Exklusiv) and is the author of illustrations for several key novels by writers of the young generation (Dorota Masłowska, Michał Witkowski, Adam Widemann).

In 2005, he published his own book, Hydriola, followed by Wrzątkun in 2009 and The Adventures on a Desert Island in 2012. In 2013, he became the first comic book artist to be nominated and shortlisted for the NIKE Literary Award for his album The Adventures on a Desert Island.

Sieńczyk’s work is genuinely multidimensional, pushing the boundaries of traditional comics. His distinctive drawing style along with unusual storytelling create a unique combination of comics and illustration.

Adventures on a Desert Island is the first comic book to be nominated and shortlisted for the NIKE Literary Award

Blacky. Four of Us

Author:

Mateusz Skutnik

Translation: Ewa Lipińska
210 x 297 mm
Hardcover
64 pages
black and white
ISBN: 978-0-9929082-1-8

Blacky. Four of Us

The latest comic book by Mateusz Skutnik, co-founder of Pastel Games and creator of several acclaimed point-and-click flash games, now in English translation.

Blacky might seem to be just a regular guy but there is something very special about the way he looks at the world. Seen through his eyes, daily routines and things that tend to go unnoticed in a busy everyday life serve as triggers for reflection. It is a funny and thought-provoking collection of bittersweet observations on living in a big city, growing older and being a parent. Read it, but be warned – you will never look at a mug of cold coffee in the same way again.

The latest comic book by Mateusz Skutnik, co-founder of Pastel Games and creator of several acclaimed point-and-click flash games, now in English translation.

Forest Beekeeper and the Treasure of Pushcha

Author:

Tomasz Samojlik

Size: 166 x 238 mm
Hardcover
116 pages
Colour
ISBN: 978-0-9929082-0-1

Recommended Age: 6+

Forest Beekeeper and the Treasure of Pushcha

Ignat will not rest until the slightest chance remains to save the forest and preserve the thousand-year-old tradition. It is his pushcha.

In the depths of pushcha, an ancient woodland, Ignat the beekeeper tends bees in beehives up in the trees, just as his father, grandfather, and their forefathers did. People say that Ignat gets everything he needs from the forest, that he knows every backwood and passage in the pushcha, that he talks with animals and trees… Even though Ignat lives in a world outside time, does not know and wishes not to know what year it is, the course of history does not slow down. The peaceful life according to old lore is abruptly interrupted. Pushcha falls into the hands of new owners who see the forest only as a source of income from selling thousands of pine and oak trees.

However, Ignat will not rest until the slightest chance remains to save the forest and preserve the thousand-year-old tradition.

It is his pushcha.

Double Portrait: Polish Female Comics.

Author:

Various

Format: 200 x 200 mm
Softcover
162 pages
Clour/Black and White
ISBN: 978-83-934751-7-9

Double Portrait. Polish Female Comics.

“Polish Female Comics: Double Portrait” jams together the autobiographical work of twenty women whose approaches are all rather different.

The comics world continues to grow ever smaller as publishers like Centrala reach out with anthologies such as this one, which uses English text in most of its stories. Polish Female Comics: Double Portrait jams together the autobiographical work of twenty women whose approaches are all rather different. Indeed, it’s obvious that for some of them, memoir is not their preferred means of expression. (For example, Sylwia Restecka is primarily an illustrator of fantasy and fiction. Her autobio story consists of her listing every major project she’s done. It is interesting to look at, as she arranges each panel as though it were a photo in an album, but is otherwise unrevealing.) The book in general will be familiar to fans of autobio, as I’m sure many of the mostly young artists featured have been influenced by the usual suspects. That said, the book also offers a window into the experiences of artists growing up in an immediately post-Communist world, one that rapidly opened up all sorts of opportunities.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Asia Bordowa’s “Radical Cheerleader” history. Punk rock became a huge rallying cry for a generation that seized their new-found freedom of speech to mix protest and performance. Dedicated to protesting against homophobia, sexism, and limitations against reproductive rights, Bordowa became part of an art-intensive group involved with comics, zines, music, and performance/protest art, creating a community out of whole cloth from the like-minded who rejected the ruthlessness of capitalism along with the shackles of communism. Her drawing is classic zine-scrawl. Maria Rostocka’s “The Flashy Queen” takes a different approach, attacking the oppressive greyness of post-Communist Poland with a bright palette in terms of dress. That move has its own problems, as the initial attention it gives her leads to jealousy and eventual ostracism—for her, creating art seems to be a means of coping. There’s a sensitivity to her watercolor technique that adds to the emotional fragility of the work.

A number of the stories in the book are mere snippets, like Ada Buchholc’s four-page, duo-toned piece about running that’s part of her larger project of comics related to body image. Maja Demska’s “Everything I Do Is Personal” is a design-heavy account of being frustrated with one’s identity, personified in the way she uses her eyeglasses to stand in for her. There are scribbly diary comics from Agnieszka Piksa, detailed experiences about art school from Marta Nieznayu, and memory flash comics from Jadwiga Zelazny. In general, the artists in this book tend to be either highly-trained designers with extensive art school backgrounds or DIY scribblers who have more in common with zine culture than comics culture.

One thing I always enjoy about anthologies like this is discovering artists I wish I could see more of right away. Maria Ines Gul smears black, white, and grey in interesting ways to talk about the past and wonder about the future, creating a visual style both childlike and sophisticated. Joanna Karpowicz is a superb illustrator with a rich color sense and a sharp sense of humor. Her “Five Random Life Lessons From Childhood” are hilarious, as when she portrays herself managing to sleep through being left outside in freezing weather as a baby, which leads to the moral: “Sleep your troubles away.” Ola Szmida’s fanciful drawings about trying to find a sport that fit her mixes a clear line, a restrained use of color, cursive lettering a la Vanessa Davis, and a wickedly self-deprecating sense of humor. Agata Wawryniuk’s mix of delicate lines for her figures and thicker lines for her panels and construction of hair, along with exaggerated and rubbery anatomy creates a dense but playful atmosphere for her history of antagonism with her mother. Her nearest American analogue in terms of style is Lilli Carré. Olga Wrobel’s beautifully rendered, deeply felt, yet sly satirical letters to her fictional future granddaughters about her loves and relationships gets across a lot of emotional content thanks to her sophisticated understanding of character design and body language. Finally, Oliwia Ziebinksa’s stark and brutal “Enter Me” is an account of her missing childhood memories and a harrowing tour of what might be missing, told in a visceral but stylized manner.

I’m hoping that this anthology is just the first of many attempts by Centrala to reach out to a larger audience, because there’s clearly a great deal of strong work here that deserves wider recognition. It’s to the Polish scene’s credit that no single visual style seems to be particularly in vogue, which makes sense considering the wide variety of influences that are cycling through the scene. There’s a freshness and lack of cynicism that stands out in this book, as using comics as a means of expression and possibly even making a living from it is still a new idea. Hopefully, this book can serve to further link Poland to the wider European and international comics scenes.

The Lonely Matador

Author:

Jay Wright

Format: 210 x 297 mm
Hardcover
56 pages
Colour
ISBN: 978-83-932072-5-1

Recommended Age: 12+

The Lonely Matador

Juan Belmonte was, and still is considered to be one of the most revolutionary bullfighters of all time.

This book serves as homage to the late bullfighter Juan Belmonte. Despite his shy and insecure personality Belmonte was an accomplished and rambunctious man. He overcame the disability of deformed legs to create a superior technique as a bullfighter. Belmonte introduced the technique where he would stand firm on his feet, and with skilful cape work divert the bull’s charge so that the horns barely missed him.

After years of injuries, wine, cigars and countless affairs with women, a doctor advised him to give it all up – but Juan decided he would rather die. He took one last ride around his ranch on his horse, then shot himself in the head.

The book tells a tale of his retirement, in the absence of his suicide.

Juan Belmonte was, and still is considered to be one of the most revolutionary bullfighters of all time.