Ferenc Sajdik is an award-winning cartoonist, animator, illustrator and comic artist from Hungary. His work has appeared in about 130 newspapers and magazines, most notably Rádió és Televízió Újság (1955-1965), Lúdas Matyi (1965-1990), Hahota (1984-1992) and Kölyök Magazin (1986-1989). As an animator and scriptwriter, he was responsible for the popular series 'Pom Pom meséi' ("Tales of Pom Pom", 1978-1982) and 'Nagy-Ho.ho-horgász' ("The Big Fi-Fi-Fisherman", 1982-1988), which were also adapted into picture books.

Early life and career
Sajdik was born in 1930 in Neuenhagen bei Berlin, a municipality 19 kilometres east of Berlin. He spent his childhood in Germany and Greece, and eventually settled in Hungary. Sajdik's mother was a ballerina, and his father one of the most successful jockeys of his time. His childhood was a happy period, as both his parents and his grandparents loved to joke around, which laid the groundworks for his future body of work. From 1948 on, he studied  graphic art at the Iparrajziskola ("Industrial Drawing School"), the Gutenberg-kör ("Gutenberg Circle") and Budapest's Szinyei Merse Pál Street Graphic School, where he graduated in 1950. While working as a lithographer in a printer's office, he realized cartooning was his true passion. During this period (1950-1955), he began making prints with laughing and crying heads.

'Nagy emberek kis történetei' ("High Person's Small Stories"): Botond (1972).

Cartooning career
Sajdik's first published cartoon appeared in the newspaper Tiszavidék in 1952. He subsequently became a contributor to Szabad Ifjúság ("Free Youth"), Művelt Nép ("Cultured People"), Béke és Szabadság ("Peace and Freedom") and Magyar Rádió ("Hungarian Radio"). Between 1955 and 1965 he was the editor and regular cartoonist for Rádió és Televízió Újság ("Radio and Television Newspaper"), after which he became the longtime house artist for the humor magazine Lúdas Matyi. Throughout the decades his cartoons and illustrations appeared in about 130 newspapers and magazines. These included the children's magazines Pajtás ("The Barn"), Dörmögő Dömötör ("The Rumbling Dummy"), Képes Nyelvmester ("The Able Language Master"), Hahota (1984-1992) and Kölyök Magazin (1986-1989), as well as the publications Hócipő ("Snow Shoes"), Hagyományos és Mai Magyar Konyha ("Traditional and Contemporary Hungarian Cuisine"), Magyar Nemzet ("Hungarian Nation"), Népszabadság, Mai Nap ("Today") and Kurír ("Courrier"). His sports cartoons appeared in Képes Sport ("Image Sports"), Népsport ("Folk Sports") and Újpesti Dózsa Híradó, while his drawings based on current affairs were printed in Világ Ifjúság ("World Youth"), Magyar Ifjúság ("Hungarian Youth"), Füles, Ország-Világ ("Country-World") and Film Színház Muzsika ("Film Theater Music"). Most of his comics for Hahota were collected in the book 'Sziporkák' (2005).

'Nagy emberek kis történetei' ("High Person's Small Stories"): Einstein (1972).

Lúdas Matyi and other humor magazines
His longest association was with aforementioned satirical humor weekly Lúdas Matyi, edited by József Árkus. Between 1965 and 1990 many readers bought the magazine merely for Sajdik's funny and loveable characters, which he illustrated with a simple and accessible drawing style. The Lúdas also carried Sajdik's first comic series, including 'Buski' (79 weekly episodes, 1968-1970) and 'Nagy emberek kis történetei' ("High Person's Small Stories", 1971-1973), a series of comic strips spoofing historical people. The politically oriented magazine folded shortly after the fall of Communism in Hungary, but Sajdik found a new spot in Új Ludas ("New Ludas"), until that paper was cancelled as well in 1992. He subsequently became a contributor to the satirical magazines Úritök (since 1993) and Pesti Vicc (1995-1999).

Introduction page with Bemi and Mibe.

Kölyök Magazin
Between 1986 and 1989 Ferenc Sajdak edited the children's magazine Kölyök Magazin. He notably created the two dwarfs Bemi and Mibe, who introduced the readers to the new issue on the first page. He also made the comic series 'Bosszantom a Családom' (literally "I Annoyed my Family"), which was initially written by István Csukás and then by Péter Berkes. The final issue appeared in 1989.

Children's book illustrator
Throughout his career, Sajdik has illustrated hundreds of juvenile and textbooks. His characteristic drawing style has livened up works by such authors as István Csukás, Moravia, Kipling, László Tabi, Pál Peterdi, Pál Békés, János Arany and Sándor Petőfi. In 1985 he wrote and illustrated the first Hungarian book of smells: 'Űrhajó az orr bolygóról' ("Spaceship from the planet Nose", 1985), which was basically a text comic. His latter-day children's picture books 'Madarak és halak' ("Bird and Fish", 2018), 'Kutyák és ormányosbogarak' ("Dogs and Isects", 2017) and 'A varázsló felemeli ceruzáját' ("The Wizard Lifts His Pencil", 2018) presented a wide array of lively animals and fantasy creatures.

'Bosszantom a Családom'.

Animation: shorts
Since the late 1960s, Ferenc Sajdik has worked in animation as well. His first known work was for the Hungarian animated film 'Vili és Bütyök' (1968). He was a background artist on the French-Hungarian TV mini-series 'Fablio le Magician (a.k.a. 'La Fontaine mesék', 1969-1970), and subsequently participated in the production of several animated shorts. The most notable was Béla Vajda's short 'Moto Perpetuo' (1981), an absurd and experimental picture of our changing culture and history, presented through as a perpetual motion elevator. It won the Palme d'Or for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982.

Still from one of the 'Bontott Csirke' commercials.

Animation: 'Bontott csirke' commercials
Animated advertising films were a relatively new phenomenon in Hungary since the rise of mass media in the 1970s, and Ferenc Sajdik was among the first to work on these productions. With István Csukás and Lőrinc G. Szabó he was responsible for the 'Bontott csirke' commercials of the 1970s and 1980s. "Bontott csirke" literally translates as "broken chicken", but refers to pre-packed chicken. Before 1967, Hungarians could only buy live chickens. A change in poultry processing made it possible for stores to sell chicken carcasses. In the two commercials, a kind-hearted man is reprimanted by his modern wife for not bringing home the right product (packed chicken). In the first commercial he tickles a giant snake to death; in the second one he lures a sleeping bear with his drum beats, before knocking the animal out. When he presents his conquests to his wife, she angrily shouts: "Didn't I tell you to bring pre-packed chicken? Pre-packed chicken, pre-packed chicken, pre-packed chicken...", while the viewer learns that the man appears is more afraid of his dominant wife than of wild animals. The repeated exclamation of "Bontott csirke" became a catchphrase among Hungarians, and a national symbol for the dissatisfied housewife.

Animation: 'Pom Pom meséi'
With fairy tale writer István Csukás he furthermore scripted some of the best remembered Hungarian animated TV series of the 1980s, produced by the Pannonia Film Studio. First, they worked on 'Pom Pom meséi' ("Tales of Pom Pom", 1978-1982), a series directed by Attila Dargay. The titular hero is Pom Pom, a furry mythical creature who can change into any possible shape. He accompanies a young girl called Picur on her way to school, while telling fantastic stories. The series was also inhabited by imaginative creatures, who - in literal translation - are called Arthur the Dumpling (a blue raven who loves chocolate), The Eraser Spider, Ink Hippie Ben, The Brave Ink Rabbit, Bird Guard Balls and The Bargain Shoe. Besides co-writer, Sajdik also served as director and graphic designer. Between 1979 and 1988, the authors released several books based on the series, with Csukás as writer and Sajdik as illustrator. They also made two comic books: 'Gombóc Artúr Ázik' ("Poor Dumpling Arthur in the Rain", 1988) and 'Kalapom Pom Pom' ("My Hat is Pom Pom", 1988). In 2003 and 2008 two audiobooks followed. The series has additionally spawned a themed playground on the Naphegy in the Buda Hills. A 239 kilogram chocolate sculpture of Arthur the raven was presented at the chocolate festival in the city of Szerencs in 2008. Created by local sculptor Róbert Ekker, it was the largest chocolate figure in the world at the time. A four metres high statue in stainless steel of Pom Pom was erected in Csukás' birthtown Kisújszállás in 2016.

Comic strip based on 'A Nagy Ho-Ho-Horgász'.

Animation: 'A Nagy Ho-Ho-Horgász'
Sajdik, Csúdas and Dargay's next co-production was 'A Nagy Ho-Ho-Horgász' ("The Big Fi-Fi-Fisherman", 1982-1988), about a jolly fisherman and the obstacles he has to overcome. Főkukac, a worm sitting on his hat, always joins him on his adventures. Two series were made, the first in 1982, the second in 1988. In addition, 'A Nagy Ho-Ho-Horgász' has been adapted into several storybooks and fairy tale novels since 1985, some illustrated by Sajdik, and some by Zsuzsa Füzesi. Musical records and stage shows based on the series were also made.

Ferenc Sajdik's work has earned much praise throughout the years. The artist's interest in diverse subjects such as current affairs, sports, health, finance and children's literature and his contributions to newspapers, magazines, animated films and books make him one of the most widely known Hungarian cartoonists. Generations of Hungarians have grown up with his light drawing style with watercolor or pastel coloring. His work is interlaced with the artist's sense of human relationships and ecological thinking, while it also showcases his vivid imagination. His texts are absurd and witty, inspired by the Hungarian oral tradition.

Sajdik's work as a painter was awarded in 1977 with the Mihály Munkácsy Prize, his country's highest national art prize. He subsequently received the Graphic Prize of the Hungarian Book in 1984 and the Hungarian Artist of Merit Award in 1988. In 2000 he received not only the Golden Palm Award in Cannes, but also the first prize at the Hungarian Cartoon Art Festival. In 2006 he was named Honorary Citizen of Budapest. Then came the Prima Primissima Award in the category Fine Arts (2012), the Kossuth Prize (2013), the Hazám Award (2014) and the Hungarian Heritage Award (2017). Since 1968, Ferenc Sajdik's work has been exhibited in both group and solo exhibitions throughout Eastern Europe, but also in Rome, Montreal and Paris.

'Gombóc Artúr Ázik', starring Arthur the Dumpling.

Series and books by Ferenc Sajdik you can order today:


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