During the socialist period, in the historical comics we have selected some main stereotypes, corresponding to the literary or cinematographic field, which can be explained by the fact that their screenwriters are writers who often adapt their own literary works, and some of the cartoonists have inspired even by the photogram of some famous movies:

  • The good ruler, who wants the good of the country and often sacrifices for his people, with the version The good ruler against the betrayers boyars
  • The good outlaws, who take from the rich and give to the poor
  • The woman – the eternal secondary character
  • The foreigner – the enemy of Romanians of all times

I. The good leader

From all these historical personalities who became comic strip characters, the one who was frequently used in the publications for pioneers was the king of the Geto-Dacians, Burebista.

Why this?

In 1980, the Romanian state was to organize a grand jubilee “2050 years since Burebista founded the unitary and centralized Geto-Dacian state.” The political commissars took advantage of the event to include it in the cult of personality of the leader of the Romanian state, Nicolae Ceausescu. ,, In order to please the Leader, the researchers from the History Institute of the Romanian Communist Party reinvented the biography of the Dacian king. Burebista has been transformed into a Nicolae Ceausescu of Antiquity “. (Zoe Petre, Cum au reinventat istoricii comunişti biografia lui Burebista, ,,Historia” nr.99/2010)

Romanian cinema will launch the film Burebista, the Romanian Post will issue the series of stamps “Burebista” and Romanian cartoonists will have to draw the official biography of the great Geto-Dacian leader. Starting with 1978, many comics with Burebista will be published: Burebista, drawing by Ion Mihăescu, screenplay D. Almaş, “Luminiţa”, 1978; Burebista, drawing Sandu Florea, “Cutezătorii”, 1979; Burebista, drawing by Valentin Tănase, screenplay by Vlaicu Bârna, “Cutezatorii”, 1980; Burebista, drawing by Dorandu (pseudonym of Sandu Florea), screenplay by Radu C. Georgescu, “Luminiţa”, 1980; Burebista, drawing by Sandu Florea, text by Alexandru Mitru, in the almanac “Cutezatorii”, 1980; the album Burebistaregele Dacilor, Decebal vulturul Carpaților, drawings by Sandu Florea, screenplay by Radu Theodoru, Sport Turism publishing house, 1980.

As an irony of fate, both Burebista and Nicolae Ceausescu will be removed from power and killed even by their relatives.

After the Geto-Dacian king, the next leader who appears very often in the Romanian historical comic strip is the ruler Mihai Viteazul. He was the personality who for the first time unified the three provinces and since Nicolae Bălcescu, in the 19th century (Istoria Românilor supt Mihai Voievod Viteazul), he became a legendary figure in the history of Romania, that the communists used and hyperbolized.

The film of Sergiu Nicolaescu, Mihai Viteazu (1971), with Amza Pellea in the leading role, is well-known. At the end of the 60’s, the four-volume novel Vulturul, written by Radu Theodoru and also dedicated to the great ruler, caused a great furor. He was even awarded by the Romanian Academy, in 1967.

Many comics with Mihai Viteazul also appeared in children’s magazines: Mihai Vodă Viteazul, drawing by Teodor Bogoi, screenplay by Vlaicu Bârna, ,, Cutezatorii ”, 1968; Căpitanul lui Mihai Vodă Viteazul, drawing by Albin Stănescu, screenplay by Petre Luscalov, “Luminiţa” 1968-1969; Mihai Viteazu Biruitorul, drawing by. Sandu Florea, screenplay by Dumitru Almaş, “Luminiţa”, 1981; Oștenii lui Mihai Viteazul, drawing by Valentin Tănase, screenplay by Dumitru Almaş, drawing by Valentin Tănase, “Cutezatorii”, 1983; Călugăreni-Giurgiu, drawing by Valentin Tănase, screenplay by P.D. Popescu, “Luminiţa”, 1987; Mihai Viteazu, screenplay by. D. Almaş, drawing by Valentin Tănase, screenplay by D. Almaş, ,, Luminiţa ”, 1988.

II. Outlaws, a dominant stereotype in Romanian comics

In 1967 is published – in “Cravata Roșie” – the series Iancu Jianu, drawings by Coca Cretoiu, screenplay by Alexandru Mitru. Therefore, in the Romanian comic strip, the myth (or stereotype) of the outlaw is inaugurated – the good man, who takes from the rich and gives to the poor.

In 1968, the adventures of another famous outlaw Miu-al-Florilor appear in the new pioneer magazine, “Cutezatorii” – screenplay by Alexandru Mitru, drawings by Ioan deak Cluj.

Miu-al-Florilor is an Oltenian outlaw from the time of the phanariots, who fights against the oppressive boyars not only with sword and flintlock, but also with kobza, inventing all kinds of happy songs about them.

The son of Captain Ursan, killed by the phanariot group, Miu was born at the beginning of the 19th century, in a village lost in the mountains, between Olt and Jiu. He was baptized Miu-al-Florilor by his midwife, because he was born in a meadow full of flowers, but he could just as well have been called Miu-al-Cântecelor, because he liked to sing all day, with the mouth, but also “from the leaf, fish scales, whistle, panpipe, bagpipes, kobza and lute”.

The character was well received by readers and therefore, five years later, at their request, Alexandru Mitru imagines new adventures of Miu-al-Florilor, drawn this time by Albin Stănescu, the friend and college colleague of Ion Deak- Cluj (who had passed away, ill, even in 1973).

The outlaw Miu-al-Florilor will be one of the rare comic strip characters in the magazine “Cutezatorii” who appear on the cover of the magazine, focusing in that way on his reputation.

In 1982, in the pages of the volume Din rădăcini de legendă şi baladă, Al. Mitru returns to the favorite character, telling in detail both about his birth and his most important acts of bravery, returning to some of the episodes of comics or back to the beginning, the popular ballads.

In 1985 even an album with the adventures of an outlaw, Adam Neamţu has been published, at the Facla publishing house in Timisoara.

Adam Duma was a teacher from Banat, living in the second half of the 19th century. Upset by the social injustices of the time – the oppression of the peasants and the poor in general by the boyars, he left his coat teacher and put on his outlaw coat. And, because he dressed in German clothes, like in the city, he will remain in history as Adam Neamţu, the last outlaw from Banat.

He would get in the way of carriages carrying counts and landowners across the country, taking their money and precious things, which he would then offer to the poor. Obviously, at some point he will end up in prison and the album ends with a happy ending: Adam Neamţu, after serving his sentence, leaves home thinking of his wife and son.

This is a briefly subject of the comic album Outlaw Adam Neamţu, drawn by Adam Morân, written and researched, according to the facts of a local outlaw, by professor Damian Izverniceanu (1883-1935). In 1985, it was 50 years since the intellectual’s death, so the publishing house wanted to mark this anniversary by publishing the comic strip album as well as his volume of short stories In cadrul Boșneagului.

III. The stereotype “The woman – the eternal secondary character”

Since the Romanian comics, the female character has always been (with few exceptions) mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, fiancée, wife, or, at school, colleague or teacher of the main character – who has always been a man (or boy).

Furthermore, the woman is asexual and without the feeling of love. If there is a love story between her and the main character, then this is about chastity and no passionate kisses, or more. The reader has the right to look at some chaste hugs.

This is why the little readers of the magazine “Cutezătorii” were almost shocked when they saw the quarter stripped breast of a heroine just changing her clothes with those of the main character. It happened in 1983, in a new episode of the Dan Buzdugan series, entitled Oștenii lui Mihai Viteazu. Or in 1985 when – the same readers or others – saw in the pages of the Children’s Almanac a woman in a bathing suit! Both comics were made by Valentin Tănase who will become, after 1990, a true graphic poet of the eternal feminine!

As I said, there are a few rare exceptions to this rule. However, only when the historical comic began to approach the theme of the First World War, two main female characters appeared in the historical Romanian comic strip.

Ecaterina Teodoroiu is the title and the main character of this first comic. It was drawn by Teo Gheorghe and appeared in “Cutezatorii”, in 1968, 50 years after the end of the Great War.

In 1977, in the context of the 60th anniversary of the battle of Marasesti, Vintilă Mihăescu (cartoonist) and Costache Anton (screenwriter) narrate with images the story of Maria Zaharia, a 12-year-old girl who is shot by the Germans while helping the Romanian army.

The event was written in school manuals, and became the subject of the film and comic (Baladă pentru Mariuca, 1969). The work appeared in the series, in the magazine “Cutezatorii”, with the title Măriuca. The character will be resumed in 1987, by Pompiliu Dumitrescu, in the pages of the magazine “Luminiţa”.

Finally, in 1970, another comic was published in the magazine “Cutezatorii” with the woman in the leading role: Cucerirea văzduhului, drawing by Mihai Sânzianu, screenplay by Costache Anton.

The protagonist of the series is Smaranda Brăescu (1897-1948), the first woman parachutist with a patent in Romania, European champion in parachuting (1931) and world champion (in 1932, in the United States).

A fabulous character, with a biography specific to an art film, Smaranda Brăescu was a parachute instructor and volunteer on a medical plane during the war. Unfortunately, fighting the abuses of the communists, she was sentenced to prison and lived the last years of her hidden life, being buried under a false name.

Obviously, the last information did not appear in comics since 1970. So how was it possible to publish a work about an “enemy of the people”?

In the 60s and 70s, due to the (short-term) ideology of the Romanian Communist Party, they tried to recover the Romanian personalities during the Kingdom. For example, the scientist Henri Coandă was convinced (with great honors) to return to the country at the age of 83.

In this context, the publication of the short biography drawn by of Smaranda Brăescu was also allowed and from this point of view, it should be noted the merit of the writer Costache Anton, who was probably the first in Romania to bring the famous parachutist back in front of the public.

These are the only examples of main female characters, until 1989.

After 1990, as was natural, because some of the comic strip writers published during communism and others are readers of those historical comics that appeared in socialism, some of the stereotypes are common to both periods. And the best example is the outlaws.

Therefore, in 2010 Vali Ivan published the album Iancu Jianu, based on the novel Haiducul, written by Bucura Dumbravă (1868-1926).

In 2013, HAC! BD Comics publishing house launched probably the most important historical comic album after 1989 and certainly one of the most beautiful in the post-December period: Ioniţă Tunsu, un haiduc de București (an outlaw from Bucharest) Drawn by Puiu Manu after a screenplay by Marius Leştaru, the album narrates the life and adventures of one of the most famous outlaws of the 19th century, so famous that even the actor Matei Millo played him on stage, around 1858, in a vaudeville by Ştefan Mihăilescu.

So, it has been more than 50 years since the adventures of Iancu Jianu were published -drawn by Coca Creţoiu –and the stereotype of the outlaw continues to persist in the Romanian comics.

The same cannot be said of the stereotype “woman – the eternal female character.”

After the fall of the communist regime, with the diversification of the types used by the comic writers, the subjects addressed were obviously diversified. For example, female characters that were taboo during communism, such as the queens of Romania, began to appear.

Therefore, in 2009, Nemira publishing house published the album Misiunea Berthelot, the first work in the history of Romanian comics which, addressing the subject of the First World War, shows the merits of Queen Maria (“Queen-soldier”). The comic strip album was drawn by the Frenchman Alain Lesbats according to the script written by journalist Marcela Feraru.

Ten years later, in the pages of the magazine “Amintiri din copilarie”, Octav Ungureanu draws – only in a single drawing – a short biography of Queen Maria, called by her relatives, Missy.

Study on cultural and social clichés and stereotypes