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Polish Proto-Comic About WWI

Czyściec niemiecki: moje przeżycia w obozie jeńców [German purgatory: my experiences in a prisoner of war camp].

Krakow: „Szczutek”, [1919]. Quarto (30 × 23 cm). Original pictorial wrappers; 32 leaves, with leaves 9-32 full-page black and white cartoons. Light soil to wrappers and title page; spine and wrapper extremities chipped; signature in blue ink to title; internally very good.

An album of WWI caricatures by one of the forefathers of Polish comics, Kamil Mackiewicz (1886–1931). Each image comes with a comic subtitle, depicting and commenting on the grim realities of life in a German POW camp, such as eating horse meat stew, and observing crippled inmates playing football with a ball made of crumpled newspaper. Born in a Polish family in Vilnius, Mackiewicz studied art in Moscow, Warsaw, London and New York, before returning to Poland on the eve of WWI and working primarily as an illustrator of children’s books. In 1914 he was called up to serve, was wounded and taken prisoner, spending four years in a German POW camp. The resulting collection of caricatures was one of his earliest works for adult audiences. The collection seems to have served as a prototype of his most famous comic Przygody Szalonego Grześia (The adventures of Crazy Grześ), today considered the first Polish comic series. Similar to this album, the comic also depicts the life of a soldier in the Polish army, this time battling the Germans, Bolsheviks, and Ukrainians during the post-WWI Polish border disputes. Done in collaboration with Stanisław Wasylewski, the comic was published in “Szczutek,” a Lviv based magazine of political satire, with this album released by the same publisher. Although the title promises 26 illustrations, this seems to have been a printer’s error as all known copies of the album, including the copy at the National Library of Poland, contain only 24 images.

As of June 2022, KVK, OCLC show three copies outside of Poland, of which two copies in North America.

Book ID: 52141

Price: $450.00