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EssayJanek Koza

By Wojciech Tuleya

Scratched out with an old biro

A friend of mine whom I had shown Janek Koza’s comics said: You know, that kind of stuff used to be seen on a train toilet wall scratched out with an old biro! Cultured people cannot treat Janek Koza seriously, indeed. Because Koza has set out to explore the naff, the embarrassing, the trashy and the messy, and that is everything that Purcell’s listeners and Massalin’s lovers steer clear from. Koza’s characters are fatties who live at the council estates and wash their car during out-of-town trips and have a barbeque next to it. Female characters are the fake-nailed, white-booted slappers, while the males are bald thugs and chavs.

Janek Koza

And the way he draws with a crooked, careless, slapdash stroke! Even the frames for each drawing are crooked and the text in the callouts looks like a bad seventies tattoo. Altogether it’s styled like a bog fresco and narrated like a prison ballad: This is Joanna slapping Roman for cheating on her. As atonement he buys her new boots, white ones of course. Implicitly the boots will never stop pinching her feet just as his betrayal will always hurt her.

Koza phenomenally makes up his characters, quite often showing only a bit of their physiognomy (we cannot see Joanna’s face but how loudly speak her hands and feet!), he enjoys close-ups as well as drastic and hideous shots. He changes the scale of some elements in his drawings so that they look as if he was zooming in with a camera. And it’s all there to make it hard and unpleasant for the spectator. And if one wants something pleasant, one can buy a “Hello” magazine or watch “Good Morning” TV. But Koza will not make it easier for anyone.