Follow TV Tropes


Comic Strip / Jucika

Go To
Jucika and her creator, Pál Pusztai

Jucikanote  was a humorous Hungarian comic strip created by cartoonist Pál Pusztai which ran from 1957 up until the author's death in 1970. Originally circulated in the social magazine Érdekes Újság, it moved to the country's sole officially sanctioned satirical newspaper Ludas Matyinote  in 1959, where it became an iconic part of Socialist era pop culture.

The mostly three-panel strips starred the titular character, a well endowed and free spirited young woman with short black hair, following her peculiar ways of going about her daily life and managing her seemingly ever-changing occupations, relying on visual gags over dialogue. As part of Ludas Matyi's boundary-pushing efforts during Hungary's mid-20th century cultural liberation and Pusztai's own fondness for playfully erotic humor, the comics contain a lot of fanservice — Jucika would often appear nude or in revealing clothing, with many of the strips focusing on how she deals with the attention she willingly or unwillingly draws to herself.

The series made fun of a wide range of other everyday topics during its 500+ strip run, showing off all sides of the heroine's character, who could be stubborn and infantile, lovely and generous or plain hapless depending on the story. With little to no continuity other than occasional reminders of her eventual marriage, Jucika could take up any job, show up almost anywhere, or be on the giving or receiving end of slapstick as she used her wits, physique or general allure to achieve her goals, at times with unforeseen results.

With Pusztai's passing, no further Jucika strips were published apart from one half-finished piece, and people close to the artist have alleged that all of the original comics were destroyed by Pusztai's widow who had hated Jucika. Poet Károly Borlóy adapted some of the strips into short, comedic poems for a planned 1970 book that also got cancelled due to the artist's death, though it finally received a rather overlooked posthumous release in 2009, under the title Fondorlatos Jucika (Crafty Jucika).

Over time, the comic has mostly been forgotten as more explicit content became the norm, especially once other satirical adult papers launched in Ludas Matyi's place. The character, though, has left her mark as a vintage symbol of this uneasy time in her country's history. Nine of the strips also made their way to the East German paper Freie Welt, and 240 were sold to Canada (under the name Judy). Various European publications also put out Jucika strips, China got a taste of her in 1989, and 2003 saw the release of a Jucika-centric Chinese compilation.

An official collection of the '57-58 strips has been released in late 2022 by Hungarian publisher

This comic series contains the following tropes

  • '20s Bob Haircut: Jucika's 1920s style pixie cut is the most recognizable and (for the most part) unchanged feature.
  • Animated Actors: This strip references the comic's change of ownership from Érdekes Újság to Ludas Matyi, presenting Jucika as a job-seeker trying to prove her qualifications to the titular Matyi and his goose.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Pusztai's art style improved with the years, with his figures becoming more rounded. Jucika's head in particular would grow or shrink a lot before settling on her finalized look. Her dot eyes gave way to her characteristic and more expressive almond-shaped ones, her hair became more stylish, and her nose got simplified too.
    • Some of the early monochrome strips used messy brushwork for shading before the comic went into color. As printing technology improved, the last couple years' worth of strips became more colorful and had far less misplaced color blocks than the earlier ones.
  • Ash Face: Jucika ends with one after greeting a train engineer as he's driving his steam train under the bridge she's on. Also after recycling her leftover coal and ash from the winter.
  • Auto Erotica: Jucika's way of melting the snow off her car.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Thanks to the magazines' ethic rules, this is in full effect most of the time Jucika appears nude, though it's occasionally averted.
  • Bowdlerize: This strip about Jucika undressing to distract a goalie was originally drawn with her nude, but she appears with lingerie on in the print release. Odd, given what else the comic got away with. Perhaps another character getting an eyeful of her was just off limits.
  • Breakout Character: Jucika became by far the most iconic figure of both her creator's portfolio and the magazines that published her comic.
  • Captain Ersatz: Pusztai would often draw various Jucika lookalikes both in magazines and on products like pocket calendars or suitcase tags. These were routinely described as "Jucikas" by the press, though they differed in details like hairstyle, having pronounced lips or lacking a nose.
  • Crossover: In one celebratory cartoon showcasing Ludas Matyi's different cartoonists, Jucika met the eponymous stars of Pusztai's lesser known political series Ivan and Joe. On one front page, she also met up with other characters from the magazine's artists.
  • Cut Short: The German release. The publisher considered the comic too silly and canceled it after a mere nine strips.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: It wasn't until the early 60's that Pusztai "perfected" Jucika's design, with her previous appearances looking starkly different. In particular, she had a more pronounced nose, messier and less "bulbous" hair, a less rounded head, simple dots for eyes (unless she required more expression), and a pair of bushy eyebrows, with the latter disappearing completely over time. There was even a period when she'd be drawn really tall. Most of her early comics also had her reuse the same clothes, while her wardrobe became more varied and fashionable later. She also seemed to look younger as the strips progressed.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The '57-'58 strips had no color and some had four or more panels, while the later ones mostly stuck to three. Jucika's loose design was almost unrecognizable, the jokes were more often at her expense, and she would also be more rude, aggressive or unlucky and suffer injuries. A few early strips also referenced supply shortages or the novelty of television, dating them quite a bit.
  • Exploiting the Fourth Wall: Some strips make use of the panel frames for various reasons of the plot, whether or not it's intentional.
  • Fan Art: The strip's newfound internet popularity inspired dozens, if not hundreds of art pieces beginning from the late 2010s, but Ludas Matyi itself also published a special fanmade strip in their April 16th, 1964 issue, by reader Dezső Flasch, along with his imitations of the magazine's other cartoons.
  • Fan Sequel: Italian web artist Albo adopted the character in mid-2019 and revived the comic as a four-panel sex comedy (for obvious reasons, we can't hotlink it).
  • Frame Break: Some strips are more intentional in messing with the panels than those that are Exploiting the Fourth Wall. This can be one such example.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Jucika has these on a series of filmstrips advertising the Budaprint textile company.
  • Happily Failed Suicide: Implied. Jucika saves a man trying to drown himself through her joyous attitude and good looks. Needless to say, he is quite pleased by her presence.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Actress Gabi Magda briefly played Jucika in a variety show from 1963.
  • Medium Awareness: At one point Jucika "escaped" from her usual spot on Ludas Matyi's page 4 to the cover to avoid being put next to a comic about German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jucika. Even when not in something more revealing she's fairly curvy and attractive, with her wardrobe highlighting her figure.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Some one-shot characters were given pun-based names in the book Fondorlatos Jucika.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Her occupation changes nearly every strip. At one point, she even became an astronaut.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Enforced due to the ethical rules of the time, though Juci did get to show off nipples (or their outline or reflection) in at least four official strips, and in a special risqué collaborative woodcut print made by Pusztai and artist Antal Fery. Had Pusztai lived well into the '70s, he would have seen these restrictions lifted, as comics and caricatures with gratuitous boobs became one of Ludas Matyi's primary selling points.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is much more realistically drawn than other characters when Jucika meets him.
  • Orphaned Series: The character was retired with her creator's sudden passing, never receiving any sendoff.
  • Perspective Reversal: In one strip, Jucika's story touches a complaint department worker so deeply that she ends up having to console him.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: Jucika continued to show up on pocket calendars during the 70s, years after Pusztai passed away.
  • Self-Parody: The strip "The customer who's seen a lot of Jucika" pokes fun at Jucika's reliance on undressing to solve problems.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Jucika will not hesitate to flaunt her assets in order to get an advantage.
  • Silence Is Golden: Almost none of the strips have any dialogue or sound effects, with the only text appearing on signs and such. However, to celebrate the 50th strip, Jucika received a full page special in which she was relieved she finally got to "speak". On the strip's 5th anniversary, she also appeared in her self-narrated news report. Regular strips were mostly totally silent, apart from her yelling "MOUSE!" one time as part of a gag.
  • Slapstick: Sometimes Jucika's activities backfire on her in amusing but painful ways.
  • Swapped Roles: Jucika acted as her boss' substitute a couple of times, taking on his demeanor.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: In one strip, Jucika is saved from freezing to death by a man. He takes her clothes to warm her up, but once she wakes up, she's... not too pleased with him.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Jucika's wardrobe changes from strip to strip.
  • Vague Age: Jucika is youthful and often childlike, yet clearly old enough to marry, have an assortment of jobs, own an apartment, smoke, drink, vote or flirt with slightly older men, but her exact age is unclear in the comic itself. Outside the strips, she's suggested to be 20. One early strip referenced a newspaper clipping of a dating ad about a 20 year-old girl. Three years later, a series of travelogue cartoons published separately from the comic still implied that as her age. Meanwhile a meta news report dedicated to her 5th anniversary at Ludas Matyi claimed she was a 5 year-old adult character.
  • Woman Scorned:
    • Jucika can get quite mad at her husband for his foolishness and interest in other women, even thinking about hanging him with a necktie in one strip.
    • Jucika utilizes this trope to get a squabbling couple back together, by pretending to charm the man and getting the woman to beat her up out of jealousy.
    • Sadly, there was a real-life example of this in the person of Pál Pusztai's wife, who had infamously hated the comic and was jealous of her husband's fondness for Jucika. This wasn't helped by Pusztai's tendency to focus on Jucika's lewdness, having himself be photographed with a paper cutout of Jucika caressing his chin, and at one point even drawing himself getting kissed on the cheek by her — all in the service of comedy, but her wife surely didn't find it amusing. There were even rumors that Jucika was inspired by a real woman, which was just fuel on her fire. Despite the introduction of a canonical husband for Jucika, Mrs. Pusztai didn't let go of her distaste and infamously threw all of the Jucika art she could get her hands on into a fire after his death, explaining why the comic hasn't been reprinted in higher quality until a 2022 collection.