In the 1980s, a series of three black-and-white Peanuts books were published in Poland under the title Fistaszki. Now, this was back in the days of the Soviet Union, and like its fellow Soviet states, Poland did not pay much heed to other country’s copyright laws. These books were, by all signs, produced without license… which also means that they didn’t have access to good stats of the strips. All of the comics in this series are redrawn or traced, and far from perfectly (if also far from the worst I’ve seen in other foreign publications), and that’s much of what gives these books their odd charm. They’re a somewhat freaky form of Peanuts, but they also demonstrate that Peanuts is so powerful that someone felt it worth the effort to bring even this damaged form to the people of Poland.
The text is translated by Anna Kołyszko, an award-winning translator who also tackled the writings of Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Woody Allen, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Virginia Woolf, and Vladamir Nabakov, to pick out some heavy hitters. The graphic design work, which I assume includes the redrawing, is the work of Mirosław Malcharek, who still designs books today, in his eighties.
Up until now, I’ve only have book three in the series. Book two offers something a little different: in the back are seven daily Peanuts strips with their dialog… well, I won’t say “removed”, but not copied/traced/translated over. A blob of text lets you know it’s a contest; fill in the dialog, mail it in to the publishing house, and “The most interesting development beautifully reward. How? It’s a suprise!” (Thanks, Google Translate… and yes, Google Translate offered up the misspelling of “surprise”.) There is a catch, however – the address to mail the entries doesn’t appear until page 140 of book three, so you had to buy the next volume to enter. (And no, these books don’t actually have that many pages. Each one has just 48 pages… but the page numbering runs through the series, with book two starting at page 49 and book three at page 97.)
And so now I have books two and three (“Drugie Spotkanie” and “Trzecie Spotkanie”)… and the even better news is that a copy of the first book is on its way to me from Poland, even as I type this! The set shall be complete!