How novel: the debut comic book set to crack America

The graphic novel is a surrealistic tale with autobiographical elements that relate to finding one’s place in the world while coping with family troubles. Wojtek Wawszczyk

Artist and animator Wojtek Wawszczyk is to get his debut graphic novel published by Fantagraphics Books in the US, the first Polish-language comic book to be snapped up by the celebrated publishing house.

Pan Żarówka, or Mr. Lightbulb, is the graphic novel debut of Wojtek Wawszczyk.Wojtek Wawszczyk

The graphic novel is a surrealistic tale with autobiographical elements that relate to finding one’s place in the world while coping with family troubles. The titular Mr. Lightbulb is a six-year-old boy who transforms into said lightbulb following an accident. While he lights up when plugged into mains electricity, he is also too hot to handle. His parents also take on surrealistic forms as readers will find out when the book receives its English-language debut either at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.

“It’s an incredible honour for me,” said Wawszczyk, “Fantagraphics are the most important publishing house in the world.”Wojtek Wawszczyk

Pan Żarówka, or Mr. Lightbulb, is the graphic novel debut of Wojtek Wawszczyk; already well established in the world of Polish film animation, Wawszczyk has worked on titles such as Jeż Jerzy (George the Hedgehog), a spiky-backed cheeky rebel who takes on the world and tries to smash Polish stereotypes.

The graphic novel has already won a slew of domestic awards and is now set to be translated by renowned literary translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones.Wojtek Wawszczyk

“It’s an incredible honour for me,” says Wawszczyk of the decision to publish the work in the US. “Fantagraphics are the most important publishing house in the world, and after winning a series of domestic awards this will be the first Polish book published by them.

The book will receive its English-language debut either at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.Wojtek Wawszczyk

“It’s as if I was tinkering with my guitar for years and then suddenly I got a message from Mick Jagger that he wants me to join the Rolling Stones,” adds Wawszczyk.

In the proces, Mr. Lightbulb has become the first Polish-language comic book to be snapped up by Fantagraphics Books.Wojtek Wawszczyk

Wawszczyk has also worked at a number of US-based studios, among them Disney and Prana Studios; previously, the Pole also gained experience at Digital Domain in Los Angeles where he worked as a character animator on the Oscar-nominated title I, Robot.

As things stand, Mr. Lightbulb is set to be translated by renowned literary translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones, who has translated Polish authors such as the Nobel prize-winning Olga Tokarczuk and other literary heavyweights such as Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Jacek Dehnel, Mariusz Szczygieł and Zygmunt Miłoszewski.