Folk Word Weekly Absurd: Shameful and Shameless

The domestic perception of comics seems to be changing, but the majority of society still treats them as if they were only targeting the youngest. This is by no means the case: comics offer plenty of story and excitement for almost any age group.

In recent years, comics have become visible on the Hungarian market: it is enough to go into a bookstore and a whole section welcomes the reader. Still, many don’t even know that there are “drawn booklets or books” outside of Garfield. “There is still a stereotype in Hungary that an ordinary person leaves reading comics after a certain age,” says Eszter Szép. The other problem is that basically few people read a book, even fewer comics within this group – overall, according to the researcher, the stories drawn are mostly flipped by students and their age groups (until their forties). Enthusiasm, on the other hand, is offset by enthusiasm: it keeps track of the latest domestic and international appearances, while also being aware of the cult publications of recent decades. “Because Generation Y is the dominant group, they tailor the offer to their tastes,” explains Szép. Thus, the publishers also turned to nostalgia, publishing the classics of the last decades as well. “Something in the eighties and nineties found us as a teenager, which seems to have continuity,” Szép says. This is why “Watchmen: The Guardians,” first released in 2008 and beginning in the 1960s, is popular with burned-out superheroes, while the authors play with the idea of ​​what it would have been like if the United States had won the Vietnam War. and Richard Nixon remains in the chair. – Today’s young people, on the other hand, are more interested in different stories, they want stories about their own age, and the XXI. century, Nice says. The publishers seem to have felt the latter line as well, releasing a number of so-called “young adult” works for young adults, in which the protagonist’s adventure can also be seen as a journey of self-knowledge. For example, Raina Telgemeier’s bestseller, The Biographically Inspired Sisters, traces a change in the relationship between two brothers during a car trip, while her Moscow-born book The Ghost of Mother Vera Brosgol talks about how a Russian girl in the United States processes her family with the help of her new ghost and school complexes. While children in the eighties flipped through Goliath, Hahota, Hupikék Dwarfs, or Csip-Csup Miracles, today’s youngest generation, Z and Alpha, hides so-called “franchise comics,” which are for a particular game, film, can be linked to a live or animated TV series. Also popular are comic book albums, such as the Marvel Encyclopedia, which details the most important information related to each superhero, from Iron Man to Captain America. Nice is that the Marvel world moves a wide audience and has become part of the public consciousness, but it is precisely because of superhero films that most people believe that comics can only be about them. Marvel, of course, drives directly to this, with films, series, comics and action figures released by the company all intertwined, kneading the multiverse running on more and more threads and, of course, the owners ’bank accounts. “On the other hand, the young man who sees Iron Man as his role model isn’t sure he’ll read Iron Man yet,” he says, emphasizing that superhero films help not only demand Marvel and also popular DC comics, but also stories from other genres. According to the researcher, the main problem of Hungarian society, however, is that many people believe that having pictures in a book educates children about reading. “I call this attitude fear,” the researcher says, noting that books written to young people contain fewer and fewer illustrations as publishers progress, with publishers seeming to signal that a particular curriculum or story is getting more serious, not worth it. Comics thus also have to fight against the latter trend and find their own ‘identity’, showing that they are neither storybooks nor products endangering some culture.

Kádár-era drawings

The situation in comics has not been so bright for a few decades. For most of the Kádár era, there was no independent comic book publishing, although a large number of stories appeared, but in different newspapers, column by column. According to comic book publisher Antal Bayer, most people probably remember the Füles puzzle magazine, which published literary adaptations in weekly sequels, mainly from the 19th century. Comics of classic novels and popular entertainment in the 19th century, but there were also a few pages of comics in other newspapers, such as Magyar Újjúság and Pajtás, or Népszava, in which Imre Sebők and later Attila Fazekas worked together with graphic artists Tibor Horváth, era’s dominant screenwriter. “Among the drawers, it is also worth highlighting the work of Pál Korcsmáros, whose figures have become the most authentic depictions of Jenő Rejtő for many,” says Bayer. The independent Hungarian comic book publishing also took its first steps in the first half of the eighties. There were imported materials, such as Kockás, a selection from a French comic magazine called Pif, or Mosaic, which had previously been launched, which was originally a GDR newspaper. These were followed by the initiative of Táltos Publishing House, which collected the works of painter-graphic artist Ernő Zórád previously published in various magazines, and the company embarked on a completely original own series, Bucó, Szetti and Tacsi’s adventures of three dogs running between 1984 and 1989. According to Antal Bayer, it became clear at this time that there was a demand for comics, which gave impetus to newer publications, such as comics that processed hit films.

Optimism after ’89

In this edition, the regime change took a significant turn, with the emergence of two international publishing groups, Semic and Egmont, which almost dumped several comic booklets a month, mainly about Walt Disney tales and Marvel Comics superheroes, but also experimented with French and Scandinavian titles. . Almost all previous publications have disappeared, partly due to very strong competition and partly due to the privatization of the Youth Newspaper and Book Company (ILV). In the post-1990 market, the most well-known American titles such as Spider-Man, Batman, Donald Duck, Garfield, Tom and Jerry, followed by X-Men, Transformer and Teen Titanium Turtles, suddenly became available to reporters. “All this was good news for Hungarian readers, but it was not good for Hungarian creators, as they had little opportunity to publish,” recalls Bayer. After a few years, demand-supply relations developed in the Hungarian comic book market as well: Garfield and Spider-Man became a leading name in Hungary as well – they have been present almost continuously for thirty years – but other titles have more or less omissions, in line with trends. In 2017, for example, a publisher saw it as arriving to “resurrect” the popular Kockás comic magazine of the eighties after decades, and today it has built an entire family of magazines for this brand, not just nostalgic ones. The development of comic culture finally began in 2004, when some enthusiastic, newly started publishers managed to bring comics to bookstores, which elevated the medium to a whole new status. However, the upswing was not rapid, and the global economic crisis of 2008–2009 slowed down the initial momentum, but domestic comic book publishing has gained new momentum in the last three or four years. “Today, it can be said that all ages can find a publication for themselves, the selection is developing nicely,” says Bayer, noting that in addition to bookstore and newspaper sales, so-called alternative channels based mainly on events and webshops have been launched, mostly in Hungary. publishers. There are only a few figures to illustrate the development: by 2004, the proportion of comics available in newspaper distribution was over 90 percent, and their number rarely exceeded one hundred titles. In the record year of 2019, the number of comic book volumes and booklets was already over four hundred, and half of these were available at newsagents, a quarter at bookstores, and a quarter directly from their publishers or creators. So the market is expanding, but American comics still dominate today, accounting for about fifty percent of the supply.

Hungarian example

Due to the ever-expanding selection, Hungarian comic artists also have a difficult time, as they have to contend with the complex stories and masterful visuals of Western works. Nevertheless, there are positive examples for which emerging artists are solving financial support through their online campaign and community funding. This is how Olivér Csepella’s graphic novel Nyugat + zombik, which has become very popular since then, was born in 2017, in which Dezső Kosztolányi, Zsigmond Móricz, Frigyes Karinthy and Endre Ady, among others, massacred the undead in the New York Palace, or Bálint Tulti the first part of his penultimate hussar opus, whose heroes take up the fight with the bloodthirsty little orb. And designers who cherish even greater ambitions work for foreign markets. Some have also had the opportunity in well-known American comic book series, such as Attila Futaki (Conan), Márk László (Hellboy), Gyula Németh (Criminal Macabre) and Judit Tondora (Wonder Woman). Futaki and Lajos Farkas have made several French albums, and Tondora most recently drew a twelve-page story in the 2018 book of the Beastie Boys rap team.

Not just reading, researching

According to Eszter Szép, the prejudice of the majority towards comics is rooted in the fact that many come across drawing stories only in dailies, which in the vast majority of cases consist of three or four panels like Garfield or Casimir and Huba. “These short stories are always built on a snap, which people read quickly between two stops,” the researcher says. So most people don’t think comics can be more complicated than this, and of course longer, up to hundreds of pages. In addition, comics can not only be read, but even researched: Eszter Szép wrote her doctoral dissertation on the relationship between comics and body representation at the Faculty of Arts of Eötvös Loránd University, and the text-based book was published in the United States in 2020 by Ohio State University. com Comics and the Body, which was also well received by academia. The researcher’s first thesis was that the human body and its movement play a decisive role in the making of the comic, and the other that bodily representations affect the reader in many ways, after all, each scene is based on the recipient’s own bodily perceptions. interprets. – In my research, I mainly analyzed the painful body positions, which are related to various traumas and war situations, – says Szép, who says that the latter situations show the vulnerability and vulnerability of the artist and the reader. According to Nice, there are also some really unusual works: this year, Cser Publishing will publish, for example, one of the works of the American-Maltese artist Joe Sacco, who created the genre of comic journalism that year. – Sacco writes and draws amazingly serious fact-finding comics about political and war conflicts. Thus, according to the researcher, it is important for us to understand that comics are a medium that, like other branches of art, is made up of several genres, and also has its more renowned creators who engage us not only with their drawing style but their meat-cutting stories.


Source: Népszava by nepszava.hu.

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