Book Cover

Comics and Nation

Power, Pop Culture, and Political Transformation in Poland

Ewa Stańczyk

200 pp. 6 x 9
12 illustrations

Pub Date: July, 2022

Subjects: Comics and Comic Studies
Literary Studies, European
Literary Studies, American

Series: Studies in Comics and Cartoons

order Hardcover $149.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1496-1
order Paperback $34.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5838-5
Order PDF ebook$34.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8222-9

Winner, 2023 Comics Studies Society Charles Hatfield Book Prize

Winner, BASEES George Blazyca Award in East European Studies

Comics and Nation is a welcome contribution to the growing interest in Central and Eastern European comics. Stańczyk carefully contextualizes Polish comics history within a web of influences from major comics cultures. Her findings will be valuable to many comics scholars, regardless of the languages and cultures of specialization.” —Maaheen Ahmed, author of Openness of Comics: Generating Meaning within Flexible Structures

“Stańczyk presents a straightforward and elegant treatment of the otherwise complex phenomenon of transculturation in Polish comic art. Comics and Nation is a remarkable work that goes much further than existing appreciations of comics in Poland.” —Richard Scully, author of British Images of Germany: Admiration, Antagonism, and Ambivalence, 1860–1914

Comics and Nation offers a fresh perspective on the role of popular culture in the one-hundred-year history of the Polish state, from its foundation in 1918 to the present. Drawing on dozens of press articles, interviews, and readers’ letters, Ewa Stańczyk discusses how journalists, artists, and audiences used comics to probe the boundaries of national culture and scrutinize the established notions of Polishness. Critical moments of Poland’s political transformation—the establishment of the interwar Polish Republic, the Cold War, the liberalization of the 1970s, the 1989 democratic transition, the turn to memory politics in the 2000s—have all been reflected in the history of Polish comics. Stańczyk offers new insights into how the production of homegrown comics and the influx of foreign works enabled commentators to express their fears, hopes, and disillusionment with political, economic, and cultural changes in Poland and beyond. At its core, Comics and Nation rethinks the impact of popular culture and transnational exchange on Polish nation building, citizenship formation, and the legitimation of power.

“Ewa Stańczyk provides a detailed look at the history of comics in Poland and the role they played in shaping the nation through the twentieth century and beyond in her monograph, Comics and Nation: Power, Pop Culture and Political Transformation in Poland … a strong addition to the history and role of comics, and popular culture in general.” —Kevin Kaufmann, Journal of Popular Culture

Comics and Nation presents a comprehensive examination of the history of Polish comics … the strength of this book extends beyond a focus solely on (trans)national comics production … Stańczyk’s comprehensive approach makes her work highly commendable.” —Eva Van de Wiele, European Comic Art

“Stańczyk constructs her analysis around the influences that Western comics, Americanization, and anti-Americanism had on the development and transformation of Polish comic book culture and national identity. The result is a well-researched synthesis of comics studies and national history, grounded in transnational influence on Polish comics and on the state itself as it evolved from republic to Soviet-style Communism to post-Soviet market economy.” —Sean Eedy, Canadian Slavonic Papers

“Through an ethic of multiplicity, Stańczyk nuances major world events through the issues of translation and cultural studies, making this book one of interest to scholars across the humanities … Compelling and thoroughly researched.” —Ashley Ecklund, ImageTexT

Comics and Nation is an important resource, being a rare survey of the comics scene in an Eastern European locale, written in English. The book is packed with historical rundowns, quoted material from seldom heard-from Polish scholars and critics, and enjoyable side stories.” —John A. Lent, International Journal of Comic Art

Comics and Nation is … an important work, presenting a new and unique way of considering how the history of Polish comics can be perceived and conceptualized. It should serve as a formative text that will inspire further research into the complex structure of relations influencing graphic storytelling in Poland and other Eastern and Central European countries.” —M. Jutkiewicz, Slavonic and Eastern European Review

Comics and Nation takes a very comprehensive look at the role of comic strips on the development of Poland over the last hundred years plus. It will be of interest to those who love not only the art form, but its intersection with history.” —Polish American Review

Ewa Stańczyk is Senior Lecturer in East European Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She is the author of Commemorating the Children of World War II in Poland: Combative Remembrance.


List of Illustrations



Chapter 1        Comics in Interwar Poland: Between Homegrown Stories and Foreign Imports

Chapter 2        The (Anti-)American Dream: Comics in Public Debates in the 1950s

Chapter 3        “Polish Europeans”: The Opening of the 1970s

Chapter 4        The Foreign Invasion: Comics and the Free-Market Economy in the 1990s

Chapter 5        Comics after 2000: Between Individual and Collective Memory




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