University Cinema Scala, Brno (20. 5. 2020 - 20. 8. 2020) —
Kája Saudek (1935) is the most significant Czech comics artist, the founder of the typical „saudical“ comics school, and at the same time the one and only personage in domestic comics, who’s fame crossed the borders of Czech Republic (or earlier, Czechoslovakia).
According to his own words, he was indeed breastfeeded with comics – he learned to read with the help of the comics stories of Felix the Cat, then he started to love Disney characters and after war, he discovered classic American superheroes, such as Captain America or Wild Cat. Not long after that, he began to draw with his brother Jan their first own comics for their class magazine. These early attempts ended with the end of their elementary school attendance, after which was Kája Saudek forbidden to study further due to the political reasons. He started to make his living as a technical draughtsman, then he became a stage technician at the Barrandov Film Studios. Afterwards, he managed to work his way up to the post of architect‘ assistant. During this time, his drawer was filling constantly with various drawings and torsos of comics stories. Nevertheless, to publicate such works during the 50’s and the beginning of 60’s was unthinkable.
A breakthrough came in 1966, when the screenwriter Miloš Macourek invited him to cooperate with him on the film Who wants to kill Jessie? Saudek prepared the visual of the opening, ending titles and subtitles, together with the poster (all in the sense of his favourite genre, that is, comics). He also created a number of pages of a fictional comics about the hunt for anti-gravitational gloves.
Most pregnant time of Saudek’s poster production (along with his comics production) is ending with the year 1971, as he could not openly publicate anymore due to the communist regime. This prohibition was, as a matter of fact, definitive for his work. Even though, this prohibiton was later loosened, Saudek did not get a complete freedom in his poster artworks until the fall of the communist regime. Many proposals of various text fonts did make it through the approval comittee, a fantastic comics art work was appreciated and approved much less – it was too hard to swallow for the leading communist party. The final versions of posters mostly completely suppressing the author’s style, as they show only a printed text and photos from the films. Luckily, the repression from the regime had not deprive Saudek of his recognition, that is still growing bigger even outside of our state. His comics creations is highly appreciated and for his film posters, the demand is still great among the collectors.
Kája Saudek has passed away in 2015.