First of all, I'd like to say that when I heard that there will be a Graphics week, I was so happy and wanted to write and article about it since I studies Traditional Graphics for 4 years. I had History of Art classes and I had some extra classes from it. I just loved what we studied in school!
The roots of Hungarian comics reach back to the mid 19th century. Until the late 1930s Hungarian comics followed the European trends. Comic strips were generally found in newspapers and magazines, featuring works from both Hungarian and foreign artists. Since comics were so closely bound to the printed media, their creators were mostly caricature artists as well. The years preceding World War II proved to be unfavorable for comics as the mainly Jewish owned yellow press basically disappeared together with comic strips (a great exception were children’s comics).
Interesting note: The Hungarian word for comics is képregény, a combined word from kép (picture) and regény (novel) was already used in the 1930s, but it only became the exclusive term after 1948, before that, képes történet (pictorial story) and other similar expressions described the medium.
During the late 19th century Hungary, as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, kept pace with the European trends, pointing in the direction of what later became to be known as modern comics. Rodolphe Töpffer and especially Wilhelm Busch (Max und Moritz) were popular and had great effect on Hungarian journalism, and soon the Hungarian equivalents were born. One of the most important writers of the time, Mór Jókai founded (1858 August 21) and edited a magazine called Üstökös (comet) based on Fliegende Blätter. (During the Monarchy German language Fliegende Blätter was a popular magazine in Hungary, with several thousand subscribers in the country.). Pages were filled with caricatures and "pictorial stories" (called képtörténetek, képes történetek), the European predecessor of modern comics. A short story was told in few sequential pictures, and the text (many times in rhyming poetic form) was placed beneath the images. Many similar journals existed besides Üstökös. Hungary had a flourishing caricature culture at the time, and many of the greatest artists also drew these early types of comics.
Notable artistsThis list contains those comics artists, who are emphasized in Hungarian comics history writings.
(Tótkomlós, October 1, or November 3, 1833 - Budapest, March 29, 1896), originally a painter, but for financial reasons chose to be a journal illustrator. He is considered to be the first Hungarian cartoonist who consciously dealt with this genre. Together with Jókai, they created many picture stories in the style of Wilhelm Busch. His published drawings exceed thirty thousand (according to Kálmán György's cyclopedia: seventy thousand).
Old tale from the common donkey by János Jankó
(Nagysurány, 1869 - Sashalom, 1943) illustrated humor magazines as Kakas Márton, Borsszem Jankó, etc. He created a unique form of the comic strip, that headlined the newspaper, Új idők. These sequential drawings usually did not tell a story in chronological order, they rather showed a current topic from multiple point of views. These very popular works were collected in an individual album in 1935. In May–June 2011 kArton gallery held the first exhibition solely dedicated to Károly Mühlbeck's caricatures and comic strips.
"War coverage from the Pest front-line. A sad memory from 1914. Militia"
by Károly Mühlbeck
(Pusztaapáti, October 3, 1866 - Budapest, January 25, 1952) painter, graphic artist, ethnographer. From 1883 he drew caricatures for most of the humor magazines (Kakas Márton, Bolond Istók, Fidibusz, Üstökös, Urambátyám, Magyar Figaró, Herkó Páter), Borsszem Jankó published his works for over 20 years. His early drawings were in a realistic style, later used distortion as an instrument for caricatures and humorous pictorial stories. One of the fundamental artists who helped Hungarian pictorial stories to reach its classic stage.
Fight scene drawn by Ákos Garay
(Kalocsa, April 10, 1875 - Budapest, October 7, 1924) Graphic artist and painter. Contributing artist, later editor of the humor magazine, Borsszem Jankó. Almost solely dealt with cartoons. One of the fundamental artists, who helped Hungarian pictorial stories to reach its classic stage. He is considered to be one of the most influential cartoonist of his time.
Self portrait caricature by Dezső Bér
(Budapest, March 13, 1879 - Budapest, February 17, 1935.) Graphic artist, painter, sculptor. Started his cartoonist career at Kakas Márton, than continued at Borsszem Jankó, Bolond Istók, Magyar Figaró. One of the fundamental artists who helped Hungarian pictorial stories to reach its classic stage
(Komárom, February 19 - Budapest, 1825 – May 5, 1904.): novelist, editor. Although not a cartoon artist, his contributions to the development of classic Hungarian comics are great. He founded and edited humorous, political satire magazines, Nagy Tükör (1856) and mainly Üstökös (1858), which published the very first proto-comics. Jókai also wrote scripts for the cartoonists, these instructions in many cases included detailed layouts, sketches. When Jókai founded Nagy Tükör and Üstökös, cartoonists were hard to find in the country, therefore he himself drew many of the cartoons published in his magazines. This lasted until he employed János Jankó.
Sources: Wikipedia - Hungarian Comics | Hazánk s a Külföld by János Jankó | Károly Müchlbeck - Vidám Fejlécei | Ákos Garay - lambiek.net | Dezső Bér self portrait