Strzelecki

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Caryl Strzelecki was born in 1960 in Belgium from a Polish father and a Dutch mother. His first name he received from Caryl Chessman, who died in the gass chamber a few months before Strzelecki was born. Was this an omen? He was a quiet kid, the youngest son of a noisy family, growing up in his mother’s café in Beringen, a small coalminers town filled with coarse Italian, Greek, Spanish and Polish immigrants.

School didn’t appeal much to his solitary character. After a short training in the Eindhoven Graphic School, he tried his luck as a cartoonist. He did some work for local papers and Robbedoes (“Spirou”). Greatly influenced by Robert Crumb and the underground scene in New York, he worked with notorious figures like Jan Bucquoy, …. His first comic strip, “Duistere Tijden” (“Hard Times”), was published in 1985 and didn’t got much attention by the time (by now it’s a collectors item). His work being too dark and controversial for post-war Flanders, he stopped completely with cartoons and went to work in the advertising business.

In 2000 he made a comeback with the cartoon “De koffer” (“The Suitcase”), an adaptation of a Herman Brusselmans story, and caught the attention of the Flemish poet Leander Hanssen. This was the beginning of a deep friendship and a lasting cooperation. Together they wrote a series of four children books, called the “Bajka-quartet” (2004-2007). These books, referring to his Polish roots and illustrated by Strzelecki himself in his peculiar, dark, jagged style, tell the story of a midget people in an imagionary eastern european dictatorship called Podzagoera. It was an immediate succes in Flanders and Holland.

A matured Caryl Strzelecki began to work on his adaptations of Charles Bukowski’s poetry, in what he called “graphic poems”. He got full support from the writer’s widow, Linda Bukowski, who admired his work and encouraged him to continue. After two years of intense labour and hundreds of very craftful drawings, there appeared some copyright problems and the project was doomed.
Presently Caryl Strzelecki works on a graphic novel about the Warschau ghetto. The story is written by Aline Sax, a young and promising writer of historical fiction, and the book will be published by “The Eenhoorn” in 2011.
Despite a mysterious affliction called “fybromialgia” and a life-long struggle with alcohol Caryl Strzelecki still spends most of his time at his drawing desk and continues to explore new depths of his craft .