Saturday, December 22, 2012

#54 - Gift means poison in German

I won't say anything about this except to point out the similarity with another cartoon combining toys and violence.

Merry Chrimbo.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Audience participation special

So it's long past time that Raczkowski's famous "Kurwa mać!" cartoon got an international treatment. However I can't decide what to put on the banner. Motherfucker? Fuck that? Damn it? Better to put up a blank one and let everyone make their own.

#53 - His master's voice

I don't know if Raczkowski is making a deeper point here beyond his usual theme of authority figures betraying the trust placed in them, but it doesn't matter. This is just flat out funny.

Language nerds may be interested to know that the man is literally saying "Wait here politely. Master will return shortly." That sounds odd in English so I changed it up. I wonder if any studies have been done on national differences in language used when speaking to animals.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

#52 - please call with any information. any.

LOST                     FOUND

Sunday, November 4, 2012

#51 - Election special

The original offers a choice between the Polish political parties PiS and Platforma. I've taken liberties with the translation to make the gag a little funnier for Anglophone readers who might be following the US election.

The original says, on the left, "The president is a cloddish rural unsophisticate" (there's no precise equivalent in English of the Polish word cham) and on the right "I love the president!" I believe it refers to a recent Polish president who was thought of as crude and boorish. I've attempted to give a version that works in English.

For other political Racz cartoons that can be read as comments on the US, or indeed almost any, election, see here and especially here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

#50 - Ordnung muss sein

"Go and put your toys in order."

In Polish literally "Go and make order with your toys." In English we'd probably say "Go clean up your toys", and the child here would then wash them, but Racz is using the Polish form to make a subtle political point: the child has learnt that order is imposed by violence. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

#49 - The upside of Hell

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Hell really exists.

And those of you who come here have a
really awful time.

But, it's still better than life...

...and better than in Heaven.

I'm not entirely certain what the joke is here. I'm guessing Racz is illustrating the fact that people lie, and people who mean you harm will lie about what's in store for you, even to the point of saying that what's good is worse than what's bad.

I put it up though because a Polish girl once said something similar to me. Her name was Alina and we were talking at the end of a small party in a friend's apartment in Upper Silesia. I was planning to spend the night in the largest room of the apartment, which was unheated. Alina said that it was too cold, that I'd freeze. I said "That’s okay, if I die I’ll be in Heaven and I won’t have any problems." Alina replied, totally deadpan, without skipping a beat:

"But you don’t know what kind of problems there are in Heaven. It could be worse."

That impressed me deeply. It could be worse in Heaven. I have sometimes thought of myself as pretty pessimistic but Alina's words demonstrate a degree of bleakness and hopelessness I can only regard with awe.

This comic reminds me of the Polish blackness Alina introduced me to, a level of despair that Americans have barely tasted but that Poles have marinated in for generations. "Hell could actually be the better deal - have you considered that?" And what if it is. What if it is.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

#48 - Prospects

Woman: Surely you have a wife or a girlfriend?
Man: No! I'm a confirmed bachelor.

Woman: I don't know which is worse.

It's funny because it's true.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#46 - A bad dream

The crucifix on the radio implies that this couple are listeners of Radio Maryja. This station promotes paranoid thinking not all that dissimilar from the man's dream, which includes most of the bugbears of the contemporary Polish reactionary worldview: Jews, Germans, gays, and Polish land being owned by foreigners. Certain elements of the US political scene have similar nightmares.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

#47 - Vacation plans

A common sight in some Polish parks, indeed in parks worldwide, including those in my city: drunken unemployed men with nothing to do and nowhere to go. What do they do on holiday weekends?

A Pole writes:

"Długi weekend" includes a pun. It is long and boring for these eternally jobless fellows. The phrase "długi weekend", however, is commonly used now by everybody, working or not working class heroes.
 It started with a several days break in May, which even turned into the whole week break.
 It is connected with the Working Class Day, followed by the Day of National Flag and Trzeci Maja, as you probably know, Święto Konstytucji in Poland.
 People prolong their holiday taking sick leaves or asking for the free week where they work. Such long weekends, sometimes lasting the whole week, happen now also in August when we've got Święto Maryjne,hi,hi, on 15th August. The third long weekend or week may happen on 1st November and around that day, when people go to the cemeteries around Poland.
  One long weekend is chased by another, it is the subject of idiotic conversations, it is discussed in the media, blablabla.
  Now, the funny side is that it is posh to go abroad for such a long weekend, especially in May or August.A small number of people can afford to do it and there's the rub.
 The people who want to show off and go for the whole week to Egypt, for example.
 They spend their time there, imprisoned in one of the hotels in Hurghada, swimming, picking up boys, observing teenagers and children, eating, drinking, taking massages, puking and farting, not knowing about the outside world at all.
 Then, relaxed to the extreme, they return, ready to meet such miserable creatures like me, who don't go to those blessed holiday resorts and spas, and tell them stories about the Arabian Nights and comforting them that their time is gonna come.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

#44 - English lesson

Another comment on the Anglophone invasion of Polish culture.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

#43 - Collectible

A Raczkowski classic. He cherishes the peculiar inner worlds of children. The joke's slightly funnier in Polish because zbieram is both "I'm gathering" and "I'm collecting", but the underlying idea translates just fine. There's also a possible reference here to a political affair R was embroiled in that involved dog poop, but let's not go into that now.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

#42 - Dreams of children

Child: Daddy, I changed my mind. I don't want to be a fireman anymore.
Father: Too late.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

#41 - Heading over the edge

Do you sometimes get the feeling that the gloomy prognostications are correct, and that civilization is headed for a severe breakdown.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

#40 - So meta

          Man: Our house reminds me of an unsuccessful comic strip.
          Woman: What do you mean?
          Man: Each window is a sequential panel.
          Woman: I see what you mean....but why unsuccessful?
          Man: Because it's not funny.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

#39 - The shame of it

                  Son: Dad, you work in such an important why are we 
                               so  poor? Why don't I have a laptop and cool clothes?
                  Father: Because I don't take bribes.
                  Son: But my friends make fun of me!
                  Father: Mine too.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

#38 - Speak truth to power

              God: Andy, tell me, do you believe in me?
              Andy: I believe in you.
              God: Then why don't you go to church? Why don't you pray to me?
              Andy: Because I don't like you.

Andy's dress and background terrain identify him as a góral, a Polish highlander. I don't know what that has to do with the joke as I'm not familiar with góral culture. Perhaps they are reputed to be extremely frank, even to the point that they'll tell God exactly what they think of him.

This cartoon makes me laugh every time.

UPDATE: A góralka friend has informed me that highlanders in Poland are said to be feisty, belligerent, impudent, and so forth. They are also perceived to be extremely religous folk.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

#37 - What's a country to do

First woman: Poland is a woman.
Second woman: But all the countries nearby are chicks too.

Second woman: Russia, Sweden, Slovakia...
First woman: Ukraine, Lithuania, France, Netherlands...

First woman: Or they're unknowns like Germany, Czech, Hungary...
Second woman: Italy...

First woman: There's a lack of men. Ones like Mexico or Egypt...

First woman: Nearby there's only Liechtenstein, Luxembourg...
Second woman: And the Vatican.

First woman: They're so small.

I find this joke pretty funny, even though it's entirely dependent on the grammatical gender of the names of countries in Polish. "Poland" is feminine - you can tell by the "-a" ending of "Polska" - and so are the other "-a" countries mentioned in the second panel. Note that the Netherlands are the singular feminine "Holandia" in Polish. Plurals are usually of indeterminate gender in Polish and the countries mentioned in  the third panel are all plurals. Their names probably derive from names of tribes or peoples. The name for Germany is especially interesting as it comes ultimately from a word meaning "mute, unable to speak", so in Polish Germany is "The Mutes". Mexico and Egypt are masculine, but far away; the only men nearby are "small" - a dick joke is always a guaranteed laugh. 

Poland has poor dating prospects!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

#36 - The harmless kind

       Father: So! You're downloading pornography?!        
       Son: It's only child porn, dad.

This will probably send my incoming searches into the red zone but the joke is funny.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

#35 - Can't think of a funny title

"We caught him reading between the lines!!!"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

#34 - Priest or beast

                                         1. Priest: Boys! Stop fighting immediately!
                                         2. Priest: Apologise and shake hands.
                                         3. First boy: I'm sorry.
                                              Second boy: I'm sorry.
                                         4. Priest: Now hug and kiss.

I find this dig at the Church over their child abuse scandals pretty hilarious.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

#33 - Temperatures

                              How is it outside?                                 Hot?
                              Guess.                                                        Cold.

                              Warm?                                                      Cool?
                              Also cold.                                                 Warmer.

                              Cold?                                                         Very cold!
                              Hot.                                                             Yes.

As well as writing sharp cultural and political satire, Raczkowski also likes to play with language. Not all of his linguistic jokes survive translation, but this one happily does, as the "warmer...colder" system of hints for guessing games is used in both English and Polish.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

#32 - Logos

                                       Man: In the beginning was the word.
                                       First child: What word?
                                      Second child: BOOM

UPDATE 19 March 2015: Replaced image with larger version and changed translation at suggestion of Krzysztof Kozłowski.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

#31 - The blame game

   Who is better?                                            Who is worse? 
 Who is stupid?                                           Who is wise?
    Who is right?                                              Who is wrong?
Who wants to reach agreement?              Who's guilty of causing conflict?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

#30 - The killing joke

Man: Life is an April Fool's joke in which everything turns out to be true.

Some classic Raczkowski pessimism coming through. I'm not really happy with my translation. It hinges on the word informacje, which doesn't quite mean the same thing as English information, especially not in this context. Suggestions?

Update: A commenter informs us that informacje means both news and content of a joke, so it's a subtle overlap that can't really be reproduced in English. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

#29 - Tense situation

                                         Woman: Do you speak Polish?
                                         Man: I spoke it, but I only knew the past tense.

                                         Woman: And now?
                                         Man: Also now.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

#27 - Roots

Teacher: Yes, we should be proud of the place where we were born. But what else should we be proud of?

Pupil: The date...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

#26 - The problem with religion

                                      Boy: Why isn't the Church as good as the Lord God?
                                      Father: Because it exists.

Monday, February 20, 2012

#25 - The end of celebrity

This is one of my favourites. Some famous person gets out of a limo and walks up a red carpet, and the crowd doesn't care. They are utterly unfazed by his fame. The guy with the cigarette even refuses to shake his hand. And life goes on.

I don't know if this is a reference to an event in Poland or not. I read it broadly, as a general dismissal of the cult of celebrity. I hope it comes true. I hope that widespread piracy, spontaneous street revolts and an increase in the popularity of amateur culture combine to destroy the Hollywood/record industry star system once and for all.

The attitude of the people in the cartoon is especially needed in the United States, where there tends to be a slavish attitude towards anyone who's ever been on television.

Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

#24 - Serious game

The Adventures of Petey

Girl: Let's play house!
Boy: Sure!

Boy: I'm going to my buddy's.

Monday, February 6, 2012

#23 - Dog hypocrisy

(does not apply to the chasing of cats)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

#22 - WTF

The sentence in the first panel means "Give, I'll grind (the grain), you rest". It is the earliest recorded example of the Polish language, written in a monastic history book in the late thirteenth century. (Details here.) It is a phrase known to almost all Poles.

The joke is that the man, whose short hair identifies him as a lower-class, uneducated person, not only can't understand his own culture, but expresses his incomprehension in crude foreign slang. Cultural colonization by the Anglosphere continues apace.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

#21 - Cow thought

Not much to say about this one except that I find it gets funnier each time I look at it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#20 - Left and Right

Man with microphone: Who do you love more, daddy or mommy?

As mentioned in the previous post, Raczowski often portrays amoral drunks and rigid pietists. Here he puts them together to draw a humorous contrast. The child, as so often in his work, is put on the spot. This is one of the first cartoons of his I encountered.

Raczkowski must have liked this image because he used it again:

Child: What's that mean, "left wing" and "right wing"?

I have no idea which version came first. Note that the clouds are different. This version makes the point explicitly political: from a simple, honest point of view, that of a child, the left are selfish slobs, the right, crazed religionists. Again, a joke made about Polish culture that is relevant in many, many other countries.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#19 - Feast of the Three Drunks

There is a Polish custom on Epiphany in which people chalk the letters "K+M+B" and the year on their front door as a sign of religious faith for the coming year. The letters stand for the traditional names of the three Magi who visited Christ in the manger: Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Raczkowski contrasts the pious person with his neighbour, who has chalked instead the formula for ethanol (drinking alcohol) on his door. Portraying piety and alcoholism as two dominant tendencies in Polish society is a familiar Raczkowskian trope, and the next post will feature one of his funniest renditions.