Why do Czech cartoonists like ugly creatures so much? / Proc se ceskym animatorum tolik libi zrudicky?Why do Czech cartoonists like ugly creatures so much? | Czechmatediary
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Why do Czech cartoonists like ugly creatures so much? / Proc se ceskym animatorum tolik libi zrudicky?

My daughter Hahna loves to watch Czech cartoons I used to watch when I was little. I like to watch them with her when I get a spare moment (and don’t blog..or knit…). And during those times something finally dawned on me. Most of these cartoons feature bugs and animals that are – I have to admit – ugly! I could not help but compare them with some other well-known American cartoons such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh, Bugs Bunny or Bambi. OK, so here we have a mouse, a duck, a teddy bear, a bunny and a fawn. These are some really cute animals in a real life, right? Now let’s look back at the Czech selection: we have a mole (Krtek), an ant (Ferda Mravenec), fire-flies (Broucci), a butterfly (Motyl Emanuel) and a worm (zizala Julie). I am sorry but have you lately look at a photograph of a mole? Don’t get me wrong, I love animals but that thing is far from cute! Couldn’t those cartoon-makers pick at least a hedgehog or something more appealing? (Granted, we also have Fik, the humongous dog or Bob and Bobek, two cute rabbits who live in a deserted magician’s hat. But that still does not explain those other insect-like characters.)


Now I ask you a fundamental question: why did the cartoonists pick such gross animals? Is it because they chose to see beauty in something not-so-beautiful? And I am going to ask you even a more crucial question: How did these peculiar characters became so popular? Krtek is all of the Czech kid’s the all-time favorite cartoon character. Everyone knows the song that comes up when Ferda Mravenec is on TV; Broucci made it on an audio CD, becoming the favorite night-night story for the smallest ones and everyone knows a song about Zizala Julie called “Chytila jsem na pasece zizalu” (I caught me Julia on a meadow the other day).

I think it works thanks to those amazing Czech cartoonists – they just pulled it off. The animated Krtek does not look anything like the real mole and the same goes for Ferda Mravenec as well as zizala Julie and others. But who cares if we love them so much!

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12 comments… add one
  • Marika November 27, 2010, 2:54 pm

    I never thought about it this way. I remember, when I was little and saw fire flies or moles in the nature I would always compare them with the cartoon characters and made sure I would not hurt them. I never saw them as an ugly creatures. The mole is ultimate favorite in our family too and as I am thinking about it it’s probably because he acts just like a little kid. So when children are watching him on T.V. they can associate with him.

  • Tanja November 28, 2010, 5:48 pm

    I agree, Krtek’s voice-over is the best one ever. They found a perfect child for him! Btw. isn’t it funny that the first krtek (Jak krtek prisel ke kalhotkam) is talking and from then on he became mute… I wonder why

  • Eva Z November 29, 2010, 3:26 pm

    Krtek je pekny i zivy, takova chlupata kulicka! 🙂 Beauty is in the eye of beholder I guess. A motyl Emanuel byl prece fesak. A co takhle Rakosnicek? To mela byt zaba, ne? Ten byl muj nejoblibenejsi!

  • Tanja November 30, 2010, 12:31 am

    Rakosnicek je zaba? Ne, ja si myslim, ze to je jenom takovej tunkovej skritek….ale nevim to jiste.
    PS: no ten krtek, ktereho mam na fotce moc roztomile nevypada 😉

  • Eva Z November 30, 2010, 3:02 pm

    No ja jsem zatizena na vsechny chlupatky, takze se mi libi i ten na fotce 🙂 Rakosnicek byl skritek to jo, ale byl tak trochu modelovanej po zabe, ne? 🙂 Aspon ty prsty. Stejne to byly skvely vecernicky tady s tema postavickama, ze?

  • The Czech Daily Word December 3, 2010, 7:18 am

    Excellent observation!! I tend to think that this is supposed to be symbolic. For example, Ferda the Ant was introduced loooong time ago when Czechs had to struggle with whatever was their biggest problem and the animal was to say “I am small but I stand tall”. Same thing with the mole, I guess. Outsiders that nobody really likes but who can convince by what they can achieve :)) Julie the Worm was, I believe, invented by Dada Patrasova who is a nutcase kid in a fifty-year old’s body…

  • Jaryba December 4, 2010, 9:44 am

    On Miler nejříve udělal krtka mluvenýho –
    Jak ke kalhotkám přišel – ten měl velký
    úspěch a dostal cenu v Benátkách. Pak
    dostal zakázku od Němců, aby udělal
    další příběhy, tak ho napadlo, že by
    krtek nemusel mluvit, kdyz to jde i do
    zahraničí.
    Co se týče jeho hlasu, tak to dělala
    jeho malá dcera.

  • Tanja December 4, 2010, 1:07 pm

    No Jarybo, musim te pochvalit – ty jses takova chodici encyklopedie!
    Ta jeho dcera se asi tim dabingem musela zacit nudit, kdyz krtkuv slovnik je: “jee”, “tady tady”, “tytyty” :0)

  • Thomas March 23, 2011, 5:25 pm

    I’m sorry to ask but I found this thread and I needed to know, you seem knowledgeable about Czech Cartoons, I’m looking for a muted Czech cartoon, the ones with noe voice-overs whatsoever (Sorry to state the obvious I just don’t know the expression very well) I tried everywhere I can’t seem to find it, I thought maybe you guys could help, the only thing I know is that it had a dog in it… Not very helpfull, I know, but if you could help even in the most tiny way, I would be very grateful.
    Please, thank you.

  • Tanja March 23, 2011, 8:05 pm

    Hi Thomas,

    how about ‘Cvrcek a Stenatko’? That movie is mostly silent and you can find it on YouTube.
    Another silent cartoon is Krtek but that has no dog in it except only in a couple of episodes. You can find him on YouTube as well.

    Good luck!

    PS: How about ‘Staflik a Spagetka’? That is a silent cartoon about two dogs but it is Polish not Czech.

  • June June 21, 2012, 9:12 pm

    All living creatures are pretty cute. Perhaps they think to themselves that Slavs are ugly or uglier than say Balts or Latins?

  • Jonas Jonasson August 7, 2013, 11:39 am

    Balts and Scandinavians are the most beautiful people in Europe. They all live around the Baltic Sea.

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