The Czech Literacy Centre supports Czech comics through artists’ residences, a digital programme, and events in the Czech Republic and abroad – and has detailed its plans for the rest of 2020, including a partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
A state-funded organisation supporting and promoting Czech literature abroad and in the Czech Republic, the Centre, a section of the Moravian Library, will be focusing on the support of comics and comics artists throughout the year, as part of its long-term programme.
Czech comics have recently enjoyed a lot of foreign publicity, as can be seen with the publication of the graphic novel Drak nikdy nespí (The Dragon Never Sleeps), created by Džian Baban, Jiří Grus and Vojtěch Mašek; and the forthcoming publication of the graphic novel Zátopek, the life story of, considered by many to be the greatest runner of all time, by Jan Novák, with art by Jaromír 99, due for release in October in the UK from SelfMadeHero.
The CLC supports Czech comics through artists’ residences, a digital programme, and events in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Upcoming events include an appearance by translator Daniel Ordóñez, who is translating the graphic novel Svatá Barbora (Saint Barbara) by Vojtěch Mašek, Marek Pokorný, Marek Šindelka into Spanish, who will be at the CLC residence in Prague in June. Also this month, Jindřich Janíček will be the CLC’s artist in residence in Broumov.
An international trip is also being organised: in October, Karel Osoha, one of the most successful young Czech comic artists, will be the artist in residence in the English town of Kendal, thanks to co-operation between the CLC and the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
Karel graduated from the Czech Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague in the Studio of Film and Television Graphics in 2018, and was already involved in the creation of a number of successful books, including a collaboration with the historian Pavel Kosatík on the comic Czechs 1948: How the Communist Party Seized Power. Released in 2016, it won the Muriel Award 2017 for the best art.
2018, saw the publication of the science fiction comic Prašina, and the first part of a trilogy, Return of the King of Šumava, based on the bestseller of the same name by the writer David Jan Žák. Last year, the novel Prašina was nominated for a Magnesia Litera award, in the in the children and young people’s category.
The Czech presence at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (9th – 11th October) will be one of the main events for Czech comics in the UK this autumn. Taking place digitally this year as LICAF LIVE, the event will provide substantial space for Czech comics, with five Czech projects in preparation, the largest of which will be an interactive exhibition by the artist Toy_Box.
Co-operation between the CLC and LICAF will culminate in October 2021, when the Czech Republic will be the guest of honour at the festival.
Other CLC projects this year include the competition “Comics for Comics”, which took place throughout the spring and included 86 competitors from all age groups. In September, the CLC will kick off the series “Czech comics in the world”, using short videos to present the international successes of Czech comics artists.
There will also be discussions on the reception of works by Lucie Lomová and Jaromír Švejdík abroad and about projects (exhibitions, festival appearances) which support Czech comics and their creators. International publishers, academics and translators have promised to participate in the series which will be available on Facebook CLC throughout the autumn.
Despite the restrictions arising as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the CLC has tried to remain focused on its main activity: the support and organization of literary events in the Czech Republic and abroad. As soon as is feasible, Czech authors, in conjunction with their Czech and international partners, will start travelling to festivals in neighbouring countries.
Lucie Lomová and David Böhm have confirmed they will attend the Austrian book fair Buch Wien, while Mark Rubec plans a workshop in Polan. There should also be workshops in Hungary with Jindřich Janíček and Jakub Plachý, who have had their books published in Hungarian over the past two years.
The CLC will also be inviting international comics publishers to the Prague festival Frame (31st October – 1st November), with the objective of supporting the festival and strengthening the cooperation between the Czech and international comics scenes.
Due to this year’s exceptional circumstances with the Coronavirus Pandemic, the CLC has also offered Czech authors direct financial assistance in the form of grants. Amongst the sixteen who were awarded grants, four were comics artists – Džian Baban, Juliána Chomová, Lucie Lomová and S.d. Ch.. (For more on the grants, visit this page).