By Izabela Stabinska
Chopin, accompanied by a companion, arrives at a modern-day prison to perform a concert. This is how the story begins.
A new comic book about Chopin has been produced by Kultura Gniewu (a comic book publisher) for the Polish Embassy in Berlin with support from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the Year of Chopin celebrations that officially ended in February.
Chopin: New Romantic is a 148-page graphic novel which consists of eight stories created by a collaboration of eleven Polish and German artists who wrote variations on Chopin’s life. Some of these stories focus exclusively on Chopin while others use him as a gateway to showcase Poland’s pop culture.
Issued in both Polish and German, this innovative idea of setting romantic and mellow Chopin in contemporary pop-culture was supposed to promote the famous Polish composer among young Germans. However, turmoil erupted when it was discovered that the supposedly innocent book for teenagers included some nasty vulgarities.
The author of the controversial segment, Krzysztof Ostrowski, explained that this particular story takes place in prison, hence the inappropriate language, but MSZ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) ordered all copies of the book to be destroyed.
In protest, Kultura Gniewu and comic book enthusiasts across Europe quickly created a Facebook page titled: “Ochronić nakład “Chopin New Romantic” (Protect the edition of Chopin: New Romantic). Thus far it has over 2,500 fans. And within days, copies of the infamous comic book showed up on Allegro, the Polish eBay.
The latest word is that MSZ decided it will not shred the book; however, the Polish emblem will be removed and the book will be distributed only to Polish and German cultural institutions and not public schools.
Do you agree with their decision?
I’m a book fanatic myself and the idea of burning 2,000 books truly gives me shivers.
Izabela is Toronto based fashion designer who studied fashion in California. After receiving the Best Graduation Collection award, she traveled all over Europe where she collaborated on art projects, fashion shows and photo shoots. In Toronto, she is freelancing in fashion design and production. Currently, she is working with a local enterpreneur on a specialized sportswear line and is developing her first Canadian collection.