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Thursday, May 21, 2020 

Polish artists create the Belarusian star USA artists and writers won't

The Belsat website in Europe's written an interview with Patrycja Pustelnik and Agata Hop, two lady artists from Poland who've conceived an adventure comic strip about a girl of Belarusian descent:
A step towards their dream is the comic strip Trumian Show, the story of Belarusian girl Alena who has a special gift. It combines colourful East Slavic folklore, the nastiness of the USSR and Tarantinian sense of humour. Now the authors are working on The Wreath, a series about Alena’s youth.

How did it happen that you tell your readers about Belarus? Why couldn’t the story be laid, for example, in Silesia?

Patrycja Pustelnik: Even before Trumian I had created a series with Alena as a character. I wanted her to come from some Slavic country that is close to Poland. Then my friend proposed: “Let it be Belarus, because it is a country about which no one knows anything.” The character’s Belarusian origin seemed to be a bright idea; it is a well-known fact that villains appearing in American comics usually come from Russia.

But hardly anyone writes about Belarus
. In Polish books and textbooks it is a very ‘gray’ country. On the back of it, I paid heed to the fate of Belarusians and decided that I would shape my Alena as a strong character, because Belarus is a country that needs to be spoken about.
If you think Europeans don't write much about Belarus, surely one should consider USA comics, mainstream and independent, where there's little or nothing about such countries in focus either. Almost no stars or co-stars with such a background, and certainly not in an era where LGBT ideology seems to take far higher precedence. It's interesting to note that I have great-grandparents from my father's side of the family who came from Belarus, and who in mainstream entertainment cares about their background? Almost nobody.
What can you, the authors, say about your character?

PP: She is definitely a very eccentric character. I wanted her physiognomy to be a combination of Clint Eastwood and Monica Bellucci. She is strong and mysterious, but introverted at the same time. She barricades herself behind the wall of sarcasm, which was caused by a trauma from the past. Therefore, when defending herself, she resorts to smart attacks.

Why does such a beautiful woman kill?

PP: She kills because she has set a goal to punish those who hurt her or put a scare into the innocent. She does not kill good people, just murderers and supervillains.

AH: She is the avenger type, a Belarusian Punisher in a skirt. She has her own principles.

It means she has her own definition of morality?

AH: She is not an amoral person, she just tries to save people from the evil that happened to her, which we will show in The Wreath.

PP: Alena is neither good nor bad. She is gray. She does not do well, but she does not do bad things either. Everything she does stems from the deeds her father committed. That is how her gift which helps her to act emerged.

AH: In general, the idea of dividing people into the good and the bad is quite interesting. We have recently discussed the topic, suggesting that most of us are gray, a little bit like this and a little bit like that. Some of us do more good, others go rogue, but there are no one hundred percent ‘pure’ people. Even the best people commit crimes, and sometimes degenerate persons are recognised as heroes.

PP: Alena kills those who hurt others. Our character does not tolerate Communists; since childhood she has had a dislike of Russians, she is a patriot.
I see, so it appears to be an anti-communist statement. Poland experienced the wrath of communism for nearly 4 decades, much like several other eastern European nations, so we can see where these two are coming from on a comic that seems to get some inspiration from Frank Castle in the Marvel universe. But if so, who knows if Gerry Conway would appreciate that, remembering he's long basically disowned his Bronze Age creation out of political correctness?
You are seeking to present your comic book abroad. Does this mean it will be translated?

PP: Indeed, the translation would come for us now. We would like to have The Wreath translated primarily into Belarusian, because its action tales place in Belarus. <…> We have not been looking for a translator in Belarus yet. By now, we have taken strides to have the comics issued in Polish and English. We did not include a translation into Belarusian into our budget, because we do not earn on the comics. But if there were some Belarusian [volunteer] eager to translate our comic book, we would be happy to accept their help.

We want the project to be seen by as many people as possible, because Belarus is a country that is worthy of a comic strip about it. We wish people could perceive it as a state with its own traditions and customs, not as a gray country under Russian influence. Let’s provide them with the opportunity to find out where Belarus is and what makes it different.
I'd like to see a US publisher offer to translate and distribute it. For example, Dark Horse and Image. In fact, I'd like to see some contributors to comicdom - specifically, those constantly babbling about "diversity and inclusion" non-stop - campaign for this comic to be published and marketed in the USA, if they really want to prove they're not all about LGBT ideology as they actually wind up doing. It can provide a way to learn about foreign cultures for real, and possibly some educational value of a more serious kind. But, chances are they won't.

The cartoonists who created this comic deserve some appreciation for basing it around a country that doesn't get much spotlight. It's precisely what US creators could be doing more often, and instead, they trashed the chance for many years for the sake of their PC beliefs.

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There are about ten million people in Belarus. The number of LGBTQ2S people in the US is larger than that, and the number of Belarus-born people living in the US probably numbers in the thousands. So you would naturally expect a lot of American comic books to be about gay people rather than what people used to call White Russians. The Wreath looks like a good book though; it gets into the artists say Belarussian history and folklore, it is not just an exotic Punisher.

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