Janusz Christa. Hardworking storyteller
Comic strips published in the press during the Polish People's Republic attracted crowds of people who looked for them on newspapers' final pages and in kiosks; today, children read them at school. The clever works by Christa are entertaining and educational; they lack aggression and are being translated into more and more languages, proving that they still meet international standards. Janusz Christa gave up drawing a few years before his death, but he wanted his work to be continued by the next generation of artists.
The author based the humor in his books on the construction of the storyline and the development of the heroes. The artist played with language and the drawing form, creating the foundations of Polish comic art. His works were candid and chatty, like the author himself. Christa's comics did not refer directly to political or social events; instead, they used gags, jokes, or funny facial expressions. It is in the details that we can see the references to reality.
Janusz Christa was a graphic artist and one of the most popular authors of comics in Poland. He was born in Vilnius in 1934, and as a young boy, he became famous to a wider audience by issuing his works with a number of publishing houses at the same time. When the "Przygoda" magazine was established in Warsaw, Christa prepared a comic strip sample, claiming to be a re-immigrant from Sweden and an experienced comic book artist. That's how he started drawing for the press. Next, also in 1957, Christa published a silent comic titled "Kichaś" in the "Wieczór Wybrzeża" magazine, which gave rise to their long-term cooperation. A year later, the character of Majtek Kajtek, a clever sailor, was born. Soon, Christa gave him his friend, Koko. The artist sent his characters into space, producing the longest comic book in Polish history. In 1972, Kajtek and Koko were replaced by their ancestors, Kajko and Kokosz. Their adventures take place at the dawn of Christianity, avoiding topics related to the church and politics. The presented world is based on Slavic mythology.
While Kokosz had many flaws and was actually a coward, Kajko was the embodiment of right and goodness. Christa made an effort to make his characters as authentic as he could; the witch and the robber could be both positive protagonists. Fascinated by Disney, Christa tried to design his characters or movement dynamics in a similar way. The artist's precise lines and grotesque drawing style were not his only qualities; the author was also able to use realistic forms, as presented in "Korak. Syn Tarzana" issued in 1958 in the "Nowa Wieś" magazine or in "Skarby starego zamczyska" published the "Głos Wybrzeża" magazine in the same year. The artist also made illustrations for, among others, "Żeglarskie dzieje", "Przygoda w Gibraltarze", "Jak 1B odkryła nowy ląd". Later on, he refused to be labeled and established himself as a satirist and illustrator of theater plays.
In 1975, Christa left the editorial office of the "Wieczór Wybrzeża" and went to the "Świat Młodych" magazine. The scout newspaper published the adventures of Kajko and Kokosz under the title "Szkoła Latania." Earlier, Chmielewski had published the adventures of "Tytus, Romek, and A'Tomek" in the same magazine.
Christa was extremely strict about his work and had many reservations about his scenarios, seeing a number of flaws in them. But anyone who has read comics by this great artist knows that it was just perfectionism because the stories have really engaging, dynamic, and humorous plots. Christa did not pre-plan his comic strip stories; instead, he improvised them. It was only when he started drawing whole albums that the artist was obliged to present the complete script to the censorship, which inspected if there included any political allusions for which the artist had a predilection. Christa created 4700 comic strips, 700 comic boards, and numerous illustrations over the course of his 74-year life. He issued roughly 40 comic albums with a total volume of 10 million copies.