Hauling the treasure

By the end of 1974 my Kajtek and Koko collection is full. I have gathered close to 7,000 strips from all series by Christa, dating from 1958 (including the very first few of Kajko and Kokosz). Most of the series are “just in case” duplicates.

My room has become stuffed with stacks of newspaper cuttings, so I decide that the best way to clean up my space, is to assemble all the strips into albums.

My Dad enthusiastically offers to help, and for the next two years he hauls the huge collection, package by package, to the Gdansk Shipyards. He has friends working in the publishing department there, but I am reluctant to turn over my treasure to strangers. I am faced with a dilemma, either trust or not have my collection bound. Waiting for the return of the first volume is excruciating. However, I keep busy preparing the next strips by neatly cutting them out and ironing them to a crisp flatness, then glueing each one onto A3 paper.

Finally one day, my Dad comes home with the first album of Kajtek-Majtek. I am thrilled with the neat, hard bound volume, and how easy it is to turn the pages. My Dad tells me of several people, working in the Shipyard’s printing department, putting time and energy into “my project”.

But, most of all, it is my Dad, who understood my passion, and supported me in it to the end. He was my Hercules and made all 9 volumes possible! Thanks, Dad!

Excerpt from my journal, 1975.

For the next 45 years, these 9 volumes have remained within arm’s reach. Nowadays, I enjoy time alone with Christa’s creations, and it has become a silent ritual, honouring one man’s creativity… that continues to fuel my imagination.

One of the albums is dedicated entirely to Christa’s originals for the “Zyg-Zak” story from 1961. Those minimal, black ink drawings, remind me of Zen calligraphy. On the reverse side of many strips, Christa’s pencil sketches are visible. These are wonderful examples of the artist’s creative process, and as an artist myself, I totally relate to the need to scribble – yes, the imagination never stopes!

Excerpt from my journal, Yandoit, Australia 2020.