Poland’s largest collection of comics goes on show as first step towards creating country’s first Comic Museum

Part of Poland’s largest private collection of comics have gone on public display in a townhouse in central Kraków, in a first step towards the establishment of Poland’s first ever permanent Comics Museum. Art Service 2/PAP

Part of Poland’s largest private collection of comics have gone on public display in a first step towards the establishment of Poland’s first ever permanent Comics Museum.

Featuring first editions alongside works from some of Poland’s most well-known illustrators, former policeman Wojceich Jama unveiled 180 pieces from his collection at an exhibition in Kraków last week.

Included in the collection are 40 pieces by forgotten illustrator and cartoonist Edmund Hejdak, Papcio Chmiel, Tadeusz Baranowski and Marcin Szancer amongst others.

Held on the 3rd of September, the opening also inaugurated the Museum of Comics Foundation, set up by Jama.

Included in the collection, the largest in Poland, are 40 pieces by forgotten illustrator and cartoonist Edmund Hejdak.Art Service 2/PAP

Built up over years, the collection which runs into 1000s is not limited to classic comics, but also posters, labels and other miscellaneous items covering a period from the 1930s to the present day and including a large collection of comics published in Communist times.

The exhibition also presents works originally published in Ilustrowany Kurier Polski at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s.Art Service 2/PAP

Jama told TFN: “The art of comics, is for me, an adventure of a lifetime which started with the comics of Bohdan Butenko in the children’s newspaper ‘Miś’ (‘Bear’).

“It was in this publication that I eagerly followed the adventures of ‘Gapiszon’ and later I reached for ‘Swierszczyk’ and the stories of ‘Gąska Balbinka’ (Goose Balbinka).

“In this exhibition of Edmund Hejdak’s work, we are bringing back the memory of a forgotten cartoon artist and illustrator, and his is not a unique case, many have been forgotten, some of their work was thrown away. Hejdak’s work was found on online auction site Allegro and that’s how it was saved. Someone probably found it in their attic.

“Hejdak did all the graphics for one communist newspaper and between 1948-1951 he published a popular comic storyboard called ‘Furdyga i Syn’ (Furdyga and Son).”

Built up over years, the collection which runs into 1000s is not limited to classic comics, but also posters, labels and other miscellaneous items covering a period from the 1930s to the present day and including a large collection of comics published in Communist times. Art Service 2/PAP

The opening of the Museum of Comics Foundation is being seen by Jama and its cofounders as an important step in the growing recognition for comics in Poland and the possibility of a large state supported museum dedicated to them.

The ideas was first discussed in 2018, when Jama was one of the organisers of the “Comics now!” exhibition at the National Museum in Kraków, Poland’s first exhibition of its kind, featuring 700 works, and an event that marked a turning point in the consideration of comics as an art.

The opening of the Museum of Comics Foundation is being seen by Jama and its cofounders as an important step in the growing recognition for comics in Poland and the possibility of a large state supported museum dedicated to them. Art Service 2/PAP

Jama told TFN: “Nobody questions whether literature is art, or films are art, whereas comics were always viewed through the lens of the worst, crudest examples, which were held to have a bad influence on young people for example, yet there are many violent films and we don’t ban them.

“I think views of comics have really suffered because of this association. It has been very harmful. We are only just starting to catch up in our understanding of comics as an artform.”

Jama told TFN: “We are only just starting to catch up in our understanding of comics as an artform.”Wojciech Jama

The current museum will also house a reading room, available on request to researchers of the comic genre and its evolution in Poland, as well as works on the theory of comics.

The exhibition on Kraków’s 7 Sarego street, will be open until the end of September.