Comic Book / Tytus, Romek i A'tomek
Tytus, Romek i A'Tomek
(often called "Tytus" for short) is a popular and long running Polish comic
and one of the few Polish comic book series running during the communist era. It was created in 1957 by Jerzy Chmielewski (nicknamed Papcio Chmiel) who drew and wrote every single Tytus story up to 2009 (31 volumes, and 10 special issues in total). The stories oryginaly were published in "Świat Młodych" Magazine for many years before they were printed in the book form (some were completely remade).
It centers around Tytus de Zoo – a talking chimpanzee and two boy scouts Romek
who both have the mission of "Uczłowieczyć" ("Humanise") Tytus, which more or less means educating him. Other recurring characters include the omnidisciplinary scientist
, Professor T.Alent
and the creator himself
Papcio Chmiel, who often help out the main characters on their adventures. While the adventures often involve science fiction elements, the world presented in the stories is incredibly absurd, fourth-wall
breaking and over the top nonsensical.
The dialogues often feature a unique mix of youth slang, slang from the pre-World War II Poland, words from other European languages as well as Chmielewski's humorous neologisms which contain political themes and satire.
It received an animated film adaptation in 2002, Tytus, Romek i A'Tomek wśród złodziei marzeń
("Tytus, Romek and A'Tomek Among the Wish Thieves".) Also had a Platform Game
adaptation of dubious quality. In 2017, the three started appearing in advertisements for the Polish branch of Media Markt.
This comic provides examples of:
- All Just a Dream: Two of the books (the newer edition of III, and XXI) are mostly Tytus's dreams. (Or, more accurately, near-death hallucinations as he almost suffocates/freezes. No, really.)
- Art Evolution: The graphic style of the books changed a lot with time. The early volumes look rather simplistic compared to the later ones.
- Art Initiates Life: One of the Tytus's origin stories; see Multiple-Choice Past for details.
- Ascended Extra: As odd it will sound, the author Himself. In first 17 books he only appeared three times (two if you don't want to count extended opening of the first book, which is more of a extra-feature in newer editions) and his roles where episodic at best. Then after book 18 not only his apperances became a ruglar and much biger element, sometimes involve in the mian plot.
- Author Avatar: The author himself is a character in the comic. Somehow, he's both a friend of the protagonists who lives nearby, and the very creator who is drawing and narrating their adventures.
- Author Tract: It shoudn't come as a suprise, since it's all made by ONE author for 50 years. The books, especially the newer ones, are very right-wing as far the philosophical view of the world goes.
- At one point, the author drew a comic where Tytus votes for the right-wing PiS party, and criticizes all readers who don't vote likewise. Older fans weren't pleased.
- Which, by the way, makes for an interesting contrast to anti-Western themes appearing in comics during the Communist era.
- Bedsheet Ghost: In volume XI the characters are accompanied by a small, friendly ghost who looks the part, although he's less of a "bedsheet" and more of a "balloon"—even bursting into pieces at one point and needing to be glued together.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Tytus's wife Szympsia. See What Happened to the Mouse? below.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Tytus — and he enjoys it a lot!
- Cowboy Episode: A very popular issue. The main characters jump into the screen of a western movie and have every western related adventure you can think of.
- Cool Horse: Rozalia is a mechanical, talking horse introduced in the second book.
- Criminal Doppelgänger: In the Cowboy Episode, the Wild West movie universe contains a bandit who looks almost exactly like Tytus. A lot of confusion ensues, naturally, as the boys end up "rescuing" the bandit out of the movie verse rather than Tytus, while Tytus himself ends up arrested.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Tytus is usually airheaded and rather silly... but he can sometimes get surprisingly dangerous when the situation calls for it. In volume XVI, he stops an airplane hijacker, then later holds some poachers at gunpoint and takes them down with martial art kicks.
- Darker and Edgier: Newer Tytus books got actually much more adult with the humor and darker as well.
- In one particular story Romek says that Tytus can't be truly human since he doesn't have a soul. This leads to Professor T. Alent creating an electronic soul for Tytus. During the process, Tytus dies, goes to Hell and becomes one of Satan's mooks and even kills a few people in order to impress his new dark master. (It's OK, it's just a dream.)
- Deadpan Snarker: Romek's defining characteristic.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- In the original magazine comic strips, Tytus had a tail, which meant the author took some serious artistic license in biology, since the character isn't a monkey, but a chimp. The tail "magically" disappeared as the stories went along.
- In the very first magazine comic strips, while Romek and A'Tomek's names are in the title, they are never referenced by name in the story for almost the entire first run (leaving the reader guessing which one is which one). In fact, when A'tomek is finally referenced by his name, it's... Romek! The names switched around soon thereafter, remaining as we know them today.
- In his original magazine appearance, Professor T.Alent was bald, had a beard, and wore sunglasses.
- Fat and Skinny: A'Tomek and Romek.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: One issue dealt with the misguided education of Tytus. In order to make him less Book Dumb and more adjusted, professor T. Alent first mindwipes him back to the kindergarten, then proceeds to educate Tytus using his crazy inventions, to the point of force-feeding the ape's brain with information. Over the next few weeks Tytus gains professor-grade education, receives several academic awards and finally starts burning out. In the end, he breaks into T. Alent's lab, resets his brain again, this time to college level (in his own words, "just a bit above Romek") and resumes to his former life.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Lampshaded in one story where Tytus complains about the 2002 animated movie because they "chopped off two of his fingers", while in the comic books he was always drawn with five fingers on each hand.
- Freudian Trio: A'Tomek (Super Ego), Romek (Ego), Tytus (Id).
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Romek and A'Tomek.
- Humanoid Abomination: What Asizo from volume XVIII looks like until the end. Then again, being an animate character from a Picasso painting will do that to you.
- Interspecies Romance: Tytus sometimes shows romantic interest (sometimes even reciprocated) in human women.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Professor T. Alent's vehicles run on a variety of exotic fuels (usually having something to do with the book's theme, such as pulp literature in the "Tytus the Journalist" episode.)
- Jerkass: Romek, but only to Tytus.
- Tytus as well, as he enjoys pulling pranks on everybody he meets.
- Klatchian Coffee: Tytus brews one in "Tytus the Journalist" while working as a newsroom intern. He uses carbon tablets, iodine, body spray and pepper in order to "spice it up". It sends the recipient into a frenzy where he types articles by dancing barefoot on a typewriter.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Even if Tytus clames to be more human then an ape.
- Mad Scientist: Professor T. Alent has some small moments here and there
- Multiple-Choice Past: There are three different versions of how Romek and A'Tomek meet Tytus.
- In the oldest paper magazine story Romek and A'Tomek meet Tytus in a space rocket the boys launched into space by accident. Tytus said he was experimented on by the scientists. This plot point was never used in any of the book version, though the third issue is about the characters going to space.
- The first edition of the first book starts with Romek and A'Tomek simply meeting Tytus on the town as they come back from their scout trip (however the story doesn’t indicate in any way if they'd met each other before or is this their first meeting. The dialog appear to be working in both ways so it confuses neither people who know the characters from the magazine nor the newcomers).
- In the second version of the first book (which is a couple of pages longer), Tytus came alive from a ink blot created accidentally by Papcio Chmiel. After Tytus – acting like a wild chimp – causes chaos in his workplace, Papcio calls two boy scouts Romek and A'Tomek, to help him to take care of the chimp they named "Tytus" (they didn't name him after any particular person but as a pun on "Ty, tusz" – "You, ink", as Romek caled the chimp at one point) and decided to make him a scout member.
- Name, Name and Name
- No Fourth Wall: Especially in some of the later volumes, in which the author explicitly exists as an in-universe character and even is stated to draw the character's adventures.
- Odd Friendship: In any other comic book series the tall jerkass Romek would be the bully who would pick on the nerdy A'Tomek. Here not only they are friends but Romek treats A'Tomek as the authority figure and has plenty of respect for him. It's very rare for Romek to ever make fun or tease his friend in any way, and yet he picks on Tytus all the time.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Professor T. Alent.
- Planet of Hats: In two stories Tytus, Romek and A'Tomek visit several "Nonsense Islands", each of which is a classic Island Of Hats where everyone is an athlete, a bureaucrat, a smoker, etc.
- Portal Picture: In vol. XVIII, Tytus gets locked in an art museum, and decides to spend the time by leaping into the various paintings, each of which apparently houses an entire pocket universe of its own.
- Pungeon Master: Tytus really loves puns.
- Punny Name: Profesor T. Alent (pun On "Talent"), A'Tomek (pun on "Atom") and plenty of incidental characters here and there.
- Recursive Canon: Due to the series playing fast-and-loose with the fourth wall, the Tytus comics actually exist in-universe and the main characters are known as their protagonists.
- Retcon: Volume III had a new edition with re-drawn pictures released later on. Instead of going to a rocket exhibit in Poland, the boys and Tytus go to NASA (presumably as an excuse to insert a cameo of the author's son, who actually works for NASA), and what's more the entire latter half of the story is changed to being All Just a Dream.
- Role Called: Some of the books are titled along the lines of "Tytus the...", depending on what job Tytus attempts in the story.
- Shorter Means Smarter: A'Tomek is small, fat and is the brains of the team.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: All the "book smart" characters in the comic have these: A'Tomek (a nerdy, math-minded kid), professor T. Alent (a genius inventor) and "Papcio Chmiel" (the Author Avatar).
- The Professor: T. Alent.
- Recursive Canon: In one book Tytus can be seen reading an issue of "Świat Młodych" and complaining about how they messed up his adventures.
- Reality Warper: Papcio Chmiel, as the creator, can edit his world in any way he wishes to.
- Tytus does this on ocasion as well.
- Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: On the "Surreal" end of the scale.
- Take That!: In book XXV, when Tytus visits hell, Satan recognizes him and explains that he heard about Tytus from the editors of "Horyzonty" who are boiling in hell from sins they commited during the Communist era in Poland. "Horyzonty" is the publishing company which published some of the Tytus books.
- Those Two Guys: Romek and A'tomek are reduced to this in some stories (especially in the 2002 animated adaptation).
- Tin-Can Robot: Rozalia the robot horse looks this way, being made up mainly of metal cylinders.
- Trapped in TV Land: In the Cowboy Episode volume IX, Tytus leaps into the cinema screen right before the end of a Western movie. The boys end up coming in after him to get him back.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Zig-Zagged. Usually, nobody takes notice of the fact that Tytus is a chimpanzee (and a talking chimpanzee to boot), but sometimes an entire plot point hinges on someone doing so (e.g. when Tytus gets captured by poachers).
- Visual Pun: "Tytus the Journalist" has two expressions meaning "made-up news" drawn as real items: a massive finger (for the phrase "wyssane z palca" - "sucked out of a finger") and a duck used like a messenger pigeon (for the phrase "kaczka dziennikarska" - "journalist duck"), used in the newsroom.
- What the Hell, Hero?: While there are plenty of examples, the story that takes the cake is book XXV. Tytus dies and after being denied into Heaven and Purgatory, he ends up in Hell and decides to start a career as one of Satan’s minions. In order to become one, he goes back to Earth where:
- He changes signs on the road in order to have a car crash, killing the driver in the process.
- Steals a wig from a dead woman.
- Successfully tempts a small child to smoke. All of which turn out to be enough evil sins to become a official demon. The whole subplot turns out to be All Just a Dream but still... What the hell, Tytus!?
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- In book XXV Tytus gets a wife named Szympsia. The character was generally hated by the fans (and soon the creator himself) and after four stories she simply vanished from the series without any explanation.
- Szympsia briefly return in recent years a special educational issue "Elemelementarz".
- In book VIII, Tytus gets trapped in the past and chained in a dungeon for decades, and by the time the boys find him he's a wizened old monkey. He doesn't seem any worse for the wear otherwise, his old age vanishes the next time the boys travel through time, and his ordeal is never brought up again.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: For most part all vehicles and other inventions boys use are created by Professor T.Alent's science institute.
- In some early stories (before T.Alent was introduced) the boys either made the inventions on their own or they were created by Papcio Chmiel.
- World of Pun: All in Polish, which makes some plot points very hard (if not impossible) to translate.
The 2002 film shows examples of:
- Big Bad: Prince Saligia.
- Broken Aesop: So advertisement and commercialisation are bad, huh? Pity that the heroes go in space using a tram crossed with giant KFC bucket.
- Freudian Excuse: Prince Saligia. When he was a young schoolboy, his homework was to write an essay about his biggest dreams. He wrote that all he wanted was for his mom to be proud of him. A very mean-spirited teacher not only considered the essay pathetic, but read it in front of the whole class, mocking Saligia and encouraging the entire class to laugh at him. This traumatic event made Saligia grow up to be a heartless emperor who steals people's dreams (such as little orphan boys' dreams about having a mom) and permanently turning them into TV commercials. Oddly enough, this childhood event was long forgotten by Saligia and the moment he gets reminded of it, he turns into a good guy again.
- Lighter and Softer: To the point that many reviews call the film insulting to the original material. Not only the humor was targeted at much younger audience, but the plot was overflowing with forced and poorly handled aesops (mainly pro-environmental.) The movie also had plenty uncharacteristic cutesy moments (such as Tytus befriending a toddler girl) and much more adult aspects of the heroes personalities were somewhat omitted. Romek in particular seriously lacked his usual cynicism and snarky comments changing the character from a Jerkass Protagonist to a generic nice guy.