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Jan Mazur , Unka Odya

The True Story of Sisyphus [Prawdziwa historia Syzyfa]

YEAR: 2013

COUNTRY: Poland

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Title of the work

The True Story of Sisyphus [Prawdziwa historia Syzyfa]

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Poland

Original Language

Polish

First Edition Date

2013

First Edition Details

Text published online, 8 pages: komiks.gildia.pl (accessed: July 31, 2018)

Official Website

komiks.gildia.pl (accessed: July 31, 2018)

Awards

Truths and Myths about Non-Cash Trading. The International Contest of Comic Books and Games in 2013.

Genre

Alternative histories (Fiction)
Comics (Graphic works)
Mythological fiction
Social realist fiction*

Target Audience

Crossover (Initially it was written for children, but some jokes might have been targeting adults as well)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Anna Mik, University of Warsaw, anna.m.mik@gmail.com

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com 

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk

Male portrait

Jan Mazur , b. 1988
(Author)

Jan Mazur born in 1988, lives in Warsaw. A former journalist, he is currently a copywriter, and he is a graduate of the University of Warsaw. He co-created many zines and comic anthologies. For his works he has received several national awards, among them the First Award in the International Festival of Comics and Games in Łódź. Occasionally, he also draws. 

His most important works are: Tam, gdzie rosły mirabelki [Where Mirabelles Used to Grow] (2017), Przypadek pana Marka [The Case of Mr. Marek] (2015). 


Official website (accessed: January 3, 2018).


Bio prepared by Anna Mik, University of Warsaw, anna.m.mik@gmail.com 


Female portrait

Unka Odya , b. 1986
(Illustrator)

Unka Odya was born in Elbląg, Poland on September 19, 1986. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. Unka is an illustrator, but also a script writer and comic book artist. Her works are (among others): Słynni polscy olimpijczycy [The Famous Polish Olympians] (2008) and Sceny z życia murarza [Scenes from a Bricklayaer’s Life] (2010). She also writes a blog (accessed: November 2, 2017).


Bio prepared by Anna Mik, University of Warsaw, anna.m.mik@gmail.com


Summary

Prawdziwa historia Syzyfa is a retelling of the classical story of Sisyphus. This time we accompany the main character on his way to conquer a new world of economics. Sisyphus-economist is presented as the best in his job – so good, that even gods use his services in exchange for the benefits of the Olympian Bank Credit System and not less useful social gossips. Unfortunately, Sisyphus was not the best secret keeper – so gods punished him with death. Again – regrettably – Sisyphus had a rule – no obols in his mouth. He hoped that he could pay Charon with a credit card. But the Underworld Cash System is obsolete, and Charon knows that, even sent a complaint about it to the gods. He allows Sisyphus to go back to the world of the living in order to gather the cash needed for the transportation. Of course, Sisyphus uses this opportunity to not come back at all. In the meantime, Charon’s economic reform succeeds and he is ready to take credit cards from his clients. Sisyphus is eventually forced to come back to Hades, and this time he can even pay with Pay Pass. The end of the story does not change – the stone still awaits our hero.

Analysis

Comics, because of the specific combination of picture and text, seem to be one of the most attractive mediums for children. Cedric Cullinford states that: “Comics do not make any demands […]” (Cullinford, 1977: 40) – especially on children. He adds: “Children are more likely to learn to ignore the printed word by scanning a comic than to learn to copy the bizarre events of the story” (Cullinford, 1977: 40). Maybe that is why the National Bank of Poland decided for this medium in the contest aiming to promote non-cash trading in the Polish society – starting with children. 

The winners of this competition, Mazur and Odya, show that even the old stories, like myths, can serve as examples for explaining or reintroducing modern topics to young people. What is more, even a dark myth, such as the one about Sisyphus, can be told in an amusing way, that might be more accessible to children. The style of illustrations and the certain atmosphere of the story has been preserved. Characters remind them of those painted on the antique vases and the main motivation of gods and heroes have not really changed. What is new is definitely the language – adapted for the modern times – and certain artefacts (like credit card reader). This kind of postmodern mix shows young readers the continuing topicality of “old” problems, and the “utility” of myths as such. Most of the Polish young readers can easily relate to the story, since they know the “original” one taught at school. But thanks to the comic book, with its illustrations, plot dynamic, and humour, this particular myth may seem more attractive to them and be relevant to the child of the 21st century – not only in Poland.


Further Reading

Cedric Cullingford, “Comics and children,” Education 3-13. International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education 5/1 (1977). 

Elizabeth Surbeck, Comics for Children? Honors Theses, Eastern Illinois University Publication “The Keep,” 2012.

Addenda

Prawdziwa historia Syzyfa was created for the Truths and Myths about Non-Cash Trading. The International Contest of Comic Books and Games in 2013, organized in Łódź, Poland. It won the Grand Prix and the reward of 15 000 PLN. The contest was organized jointly with Narodowy Bank Polski [National Bank of Poland] as an economics education program.

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Leaf pattern

Title of the work

The True Story of Sisyphus [Prawdziwa historia Syzyfa]

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Poland

Original Language

Polish

First Edition Date

2013

First Edition Details

Text published online, 8 pages: komiks.gildia.pl (accessed: July 31, 2018)

Official Website

komiks.gildia.pl (accessed: July 31, 2018)

Awards

Truths and Myths about Non-Cash Trading. The International Contest of Comic Books and Games in 2013.

Genre

Alternative histories (Fiction)
Comics (Graphic works)
Mythological fiction
Social realist fiction*

Target Audience

Crossover (Initially it was written for children, but some jokes might have been targeting adults as well)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Anna Mik, University of Warsaw, anna.m.mik@gmail.com

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com 

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk

Male portrait

Jan Mazur (Author)

Jan Mazur born in 1988, lives in Warsaw. A former journalist, he is currently a copywriter, and he is a graduate of the University of Warsaw. He co-created many zines and comic anthologies. For his works he has received several national awards, among them the First Award in the International Festival of Comics and Games in Łódź. Occasionally, he also draws. 

His most important works are: Tam, gdzie rosły mirabelki [Where Mirabelles Used to Grow] (2017), Przypadek pana Marka [The Case of Mr. Marek] (2015). 


Official website (accessed: January 3, 2018).


Bio prepared by Anna Mik, University of Warsaw, anna.m.mik@gmail.com 


Female portrait

Unka Odya (Illustrator)

Unka Odya was born in Elbląg, Poland on September 19, 1986. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. Unka is an illustrator, but also a script writer and comic book artist. Her works are (among others): Słynni polscy olimpijczycy [The Famous Polish Olympians] (2008) and Sceny z życia murarza [Scenes from a Bricklayaer’s Life] (2010). She also writes a blog (accessed: November 2, 2017).


Bio prepared by Anna Mik, University of Warsaw, anna.m.mik@gmail.com


Summary

Prawdziwa historia Syzyfa is a retelling of the classical story of Sisyphus. This time we accompany the main character on his way to conquer a new world of economics. Sisyphus-economist is presented as the best in his job – so good, that even gods use his services in exchange for the benefits of the Olympian Bank Credit System and not less useful social gossips. Unfortunately, Sisyphus was not the best secret keeper – so gods punished him with death. Again – regrettably – Sisyphus had a rule – no obols in his mouth. He hoped that he could pay Charon with a credit card. But the Underworld Cash System is obsolete, and Charon knows that, even sent a complaint about it to the gods. He allows Sisyphus to go back to the world of the living in order to gather the cash needed for the transportation. Of course, Sisyphus uses this opportunity to not come back at all. In the meantime, Charon’s economic reform succeeds and he is ready to take credit cards from his clients. Sisyphus is eventually forced to come back to Hades, and this time he can even pay with Pay Pass. The end of the story does not change – the stone still awaits our hero.

Analysis

Comics, because of the specific combination of picture and text, seem to be one of the most attractive mediums for children. Cedric Cullinford states that: “Comics do not make any demands […]” (Cullinford, 1977: 40) – especially on children. He adds: “Children are more likely to learn to ignore the printed word by scanning a comic than to learn to copy the bizarre events of the story” (Cullinford, 1977: 40). Maybe that is why the National Bank of Poland decided for this medium in the contest aiming to promote non-cash trading in the Polish society – starting with children. 

The winners of this competition, Mazur and Odya, show that even the old stories, like myths, can serve as examples for explaining or reintroducing modern topics to young people. What is more, even a dark myth, such as the one about Sisyphus, can be told in an amusing way, that might be more accessible to children. The style of illustrations and the certain atmosphere of the story has been preserved. Characters remind them of those painted on the antique vases and the main motivation of gods and heroes have not really changed. What is new is definitely the language – adapted for the modern times – and certain artefacts (like credit card reader). This kind of postmodern mix shows young readers the continuing topicality of “old” problems, and the “utility” of myths as such. Most of the Polish young readers can easily relate to the story, since they know the “original” one taught at school. But thanks to the comic book, with its illustrations, plot dynamic, and humour, this particular myth may seem more attractive to them and be relevant to the child of the 21st century – not only in Poland.


Further Reading

Cedric Cullingford, “Comics and children,” Education 3-13. International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education 5/1 (1977). 

Elizabeth Surbeck, Comics for Children? Honors Theses, Eastern Illinois University Publication “The Keep,” 2012.

Addenda

Prawdziwa historia Syzyfa was created for the Truths and Myths about Non-Cash Trading. The International Contest of Comic Books and Games in 2013, organized in Łódź, Poland. It won the Grand Prix and the reward of 15 000 PLN. The contest was organized jointly with Narodowy Bank Polski [National Bank of Poland] as an economics education program.

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