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Literature / Koziołek Matołek

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Illustration from the original first book
Koziołek Matołek, a name which can be translated as "Silly Billy-goat", is a character from a series of Polish children's books, created in 1933 Kornel Makuszyński (story) and Marian Walentynowicz (art). The books are made up of small illustrations with a rhyming four-verse caption under each one, and are often referred to as "the first Polish comic books", though they're better described as Picture Books.

Adapted into a cartoon series that ran from 1969-1971, and which has its own page.

The main character is an anthropomorphic goat that is on his way to the town of Pacanów, where he would get his hooves shoed. A bumbling, naive character like Winnie-the-Pooh; his adventures were surreal like a Dali painting and would take him around the world.

Tropes featured include:

  • Anachronism Stew: Matołek encounters brigands straight out of a fairy tale, visits a medieval castle, ends up in feudal China, later travels by plane to Poland and drives a car...
  • Author Avatar: The fictionalized versions of Kornel Makuszyński and (less often) Marian Walentynowicz have appeared in the books themselves sporadically.
  • Bindle Stick: Often depicted with one, on the count of that he's a wanderer.
  • Blackface: The cannibals in the 2nd and 4th book are depicted in the stereotypical 30's way complete with plain black skin and thick red lips.
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  • Bizarrchitecture: In China, Matołek comes across a palace shaped in the form of a giant teapot.
  • Captured by Cannibals: In Africa.
  • Eating Contest: He wins a duel with an Indian chief by turning it into a grass-eating competition.
  • The Faceless: Whenever Author Avatar version of Kornel Makuszyński appears in the books he's either seen only from behind or has his face covered by his hand or arm.
  • Funny Animal: The protagonist himself. Oddly enough, in the first few pictures he is apparently an ordinary goat like the others, and suddenly becomes anthropomorphic once he goes on his quest.
  • Furry Confusion: Matołek (and later almost all goats) seems to be the only anthropomorphic animal around (though all animals are sapient, as usual in children's literature). The humans he meets react variously; some treat him as an ordinary person, some call for the butcher immediately upon spotting him, and then there are those who initially treat him as a human but try to make him into a stew once he displeases them.
    • The aniamted series has apperances by other anthropomorphic animals, notable the pirate episode includes few female goats.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Matołek is shirtless.
  • Ironic Name: Despite having a name that means "silly", the protagonist isn't really stupid, and the narrative even frequently notes that he's smart and clever.
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  • No Export for You: To date, the original books have not been translated into English.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Sort of. Matołek arrives at the town of Pacanów, only to learn that, due to the ambiguity of Polish grammar, the town's blacksmiths bear the last name "Goat", but don't actually shoe goats.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Especially the first and second book is nothing but a series of these.
  • White Gloves: The protagonist, being white, wears yellow ones.


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