But why Łódź? The connection comes from The International Festival of Comics and Games, which has been organized there every autumn for over 30 years. And how did the festival come to be associated with Łódź? Piotr Kasiński, artistic director of MFKiG and specialist from the Comic and Interactive Narrative Centre, tells us: “In Łódź, a group of comic enthusiasts met at the right time and place and organized the festival. They were students from the art high school in Łódź, a dozen or so people who were inspired by Francophone comics in the late 1980s.”
This grassroots initiative led to the creation of a comic book convention at the Łódź Cultural Centre. It was 1991. After a few years, the festival moved to the entertainment and sports hall, today's Atlas Arena, where it’s still held today.
For comic book and game lovers, early autumn always means a trip to Łódź. Every year, around 20,000 people visit the festival from all over Poland and Europe. It’s the largest event of its kind in Central Europe, featuring a rich program of meetings, lectures and workshops. During the two-day festival at Atlas Arena, you can meet over a hundred Polish and foreign artists, buy publications directly from publishers, and listen to lectures on Polish, European, American and Japanese comics. It’s also a meeting place for people interested in board, retro, console and computer games, including researchers, experts and, of course, fans.
This year the festival will welcome stars of the Polish comic scene, including Grzegorz Rosiński, Piotr Nowacki, Magdalena Kania and Bartosz Minkiewicz. There will also be guests from abroad: Tanabe Gou from Japan, Thomas Ott from Switzerland and the French continuators of the "Thorgal" series, Frédéric Vignaux and Robin Recht.
In a special autograph zone, you can meet authors, who will draw dedications in albums you buy.
What can you expect to see at the Comic Book and Interactive Narrative Centre at 1/3 Targowa Street?
The permanent exhibition will be of interest not only to comic experts, but also to newcomers to the genre. The two-storey exhibition explains what comics are, what techniques are used to create them, and tells the history of Polish comics – a broad view presented through hundreds of original boards and artifacts related to the most important Polish comic creators. EC1 will also host an exhibition of works by Grzegorz Rosiński, the creator of Thorgal, and it will feature the creations of Piotr Nowacki, author of the children’s series "Detektyw Miś Zbyś na tropie".
The centre will also house a retro zone, taking visitors on a journey back to the 1980s and 1990s, when gaming culture was emerging in Poland. You’ll be able to check out a car with automatic machines and reminisce about the Amiga, Commodore, Pegasus and joysticks of the time.
There will be no shortage of contemporary spaces in EC1. In cooperation with CD Projekt Red, the centre has created a journey showing how video games are made. The multi-stage gameplay, based on the world of "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt", shows the most important steps in the creative work of game development.
And it’s not only about what you’ll experience inside the Comic and Interactive Narration Centre, but also the building itself. The cooling towers in the centre of the EC1 Łódź complex have been covered with paintings of dragons, tigers and many other fantastic creatures, designed by the world-famous South Korean artist Kim Jung Gi. Transferring a flat drawing to the cylindrical façade of the reconstructed cooling towers was no small feat.
Measuring 650 square metres, the monochrome painting was created using black and white brush strokes. It clearly marks the building as a place related to comics and computer games. It’s best to first view the mural from a distance, so you can see how the figures interact, says Paweł Gregor, executive manager of the project. Then the shape of the figures is almost tangible. But to better understand the story immortalized in the mural, you need to get closer to the cylindrical walls and take the time to discover its details.
The original work that the mural was based on will also be on display at the Comic and Interactive Narrative Centre.