“Hernan Cortes and the Conquest of Mexico” (“Ongrys” edition) and “Montezuma’s Treasure”
Recently, on the blog, I had the pleasure of allowing myself a nostalgic journey into the world of Communist rule era of comics, by reviewing excellent (despite many flaws) comic book by Janusz Wróblewski “Hernan Cortes and the Conquest of Mexico”. This comic has recently been remastered and released by the publishing house “Ongrys” in a hardcover, being an excellent treat for connoisseurs of classic Polish comics.
What do we get in this new edition? First of all, a stellar print quality, thanks to modern printing techniques and the use of original boards from the collection of the artist’s heirs. The printing is devoid of the crude “grain” of the old printing screen, and the reproduction of colours and lines is faithful to the original ink and coloured “blueline” prints. Let’s see comparison below:
And what extras we got in this edition aside the original comic? First of all, an article describing the biography of the authors and the behind the scenes work on this and other comics, along with photos of references used during their production, courtesy of the Wróblewski estate archive. The comic also contains one scene cut by KAW publishing house censorship; a small panel presenting a heart cut out of the chest of conquistador on the hand of an Aztec priest. Apparently, that panel was considered too graphic, and removed from the original blueline prints.
As if that was not enough, we also get a few pages where the above-mentioned comic book was compared with another comic book by Wróblewski; “Montezuma’s Treasure” published as a “strip” in “Ekspres Wieczorny” newspaper in 1961. As we can see, the conquest of Mexico has already been the subject of Wróblewski’s work once and at the very beginning of his comic artist career.
The same publishing house published this “strip” in complete form in the series “From the archives of Jerzy Wróblewski”, which I purchased in a set with the album “Hernan…” from 1987. The drawing is simplistic and crude, the clothes and architecture are even more historically incorrect than in the later comic drawn according to Mr. Weinfeld’s script etc. Nevertheless, you can see the enormous potential that Wróblewski developed into the fullest in the following decades.
This edition should be of particular interest to connoisseurs, as a contribution to the history of the work of an artist who tells a lot about his early fascination with the subject of Spanish colonialism. There is only one serious flaw of this edition: the cover was drawn by a contemporary artist imitating the late style of Mr Wróblewski. This leaves a slight bad aftertaste, because this style way too different from what is inside. The only addition to this issue are the illustrations from the “Hidden Letters” puzzle published in the “funnies” section of the newspaper.