A comics portrait of one of the founders of Czechoslovakia favouring playfulness and complexity over the trivialization of textbooks.
The factually based story of one of the founders of an independent Czechoslovakia – the general, aviator and passionate astronomer Milan Rastislav Štefánik – provides the basis for the eponymous graphic novel by the artist Václav Šlajch and the writers Gabriela Kyselová and Michal Baláž. However, instead of a predictable, eulogizing memorial, the reader is presented with a remarkable work about the folly of attempting such clear-cut interpretations. It is a playful and somewhat provocative graphic novel showing that even the greatest heroes can be insufferable in many respects, and that no one who truly lived can be reduced to a glossy image on a poster. The comics version of Štefánik has the power to speak to readers already familiar with the figures being depicted as well as those hearing about them for the first time. Through its scope, its persuasiveness, its sophisticated composition and excellent artwork, it is able to speak to anyone who is prepared to listen.
“An outstanding book. Šlajch is a skilful artist, a master of the dynamic, inherently ‘atmospheric’ line. He takes reality as his starting point but spins it out a little in a fanciful way. In his hands, Štefánik is like a cross between Hellboy and the Golem.”
“Šlajch’s drawing style is original and assured, and its composition has the ability to surprise.”
About the authors:
Gabriela Kyselová (1981) is a scriptwriter and artist. She has worked on several independent educational art projects, mainly for internet apps. She collaborated on the film Cesta do nemožna (The Impossible Voyage, 2019). She has recently been working on Medikomiks, a series of educational comic books for children about serious illnesses. She also works as a screenwriter for children’s animations at the Tobogang film company. She lives in Prague.
Michal Baláž (1986) is a scriptwriter, director, playwright and novelist. His first book to be published was the poetry collection Ø (2016). He made his debut as a screenwriter and director with the TV docudrama True Štúr (2015) a mix of animation and live action, and as a playwright with the staging of Domov (Home, 2018). His second book, a collection of short works of prose and miniature dramas, Orgány & Drámy (Organs & Dramas), was published in 2018. He also writes his own music and lyrics. He lives in Bratislava.
Václav Šlajch (1980) is a comics artist, educator and illustrator. He is part of the “new wave” of Czech comics known as Generation Zero, which began to make a name for itself around 2000. He has been teaching at the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Art and Design in Plzeň since 2013. He illustrates books and magazines. He has contributed to comics such as Ještě jsme ve válce (We Are Still at War, 2011), Superhrdinové z východního bloku (Superheroes from the Eastern Bloc, 2015) and Rychlé šípy a jejich úžasná nová dobrodružství (The Rapid Arrows and their Amazing New Adventures, 2018). He is the winner of the 2010 Muriel Award for best short comics. He is a fan of comics by Daniel Clowes, cactuses and films by the Coen brothers.