DIKOBRAZ – Czech model of humor magazine once and forever?

by Ivan HANOUSEK / Czech Republic


Ivan Hanousek

At the moment when I sat down at the machine to have done something useful for the money it began to snow and this belated Christmas time in conjunction with sugar strewn guttertiles of the Mala Strana of Prague outside the window caused some short circuit and now I’m writing just for sentimental joy from writing, of such writing that only children know. And for such a joy that they experience only when they write to Jesus. With the hope that he will obtain it.

Such hope, being old, I don’t have. Because that what I write, nobody obtains. This also occurred to me only now, although this is a situation with which I grew up, I live in it and sometimes I am – still vainly – thinking about it. Well, maybe now is coming the rare moment of epiphany.

As football fans showed unexpectedly common sense when vigorously and easily evaluate a television football broadcasts fools at the microphone chanting “Nova fucks football”, it is now necessary to clearly and simply describe the role of Dikobraz since its creation which happened nearly sixty years ago … The slogan sounds: “Dikobraz fucks humor!” (* dikobraz = porcupine)

The impulse to me were the words uttered from the mouth of the innocent girl about the pictures distributed before the jury on the tables of Louvre Gallery. “I remember Dikobraz that I liked looking at when I was a little girl because there were a lot of funny pictures …” Yes, so it is, today’s twenty-five years old people remember well that they as ten years old children were flipping through a magazine and looked at the figures with amusing noses, what they were being brought out and saying funny things. Equally the thirty years old. Forty, fifty years old. And also we did. Anyone who among us is between 20 and 80, thinks that as Dikobraz looked like, so should look like a humor magazine.

Not only publishers who have never seen anything else and so over and over again try to make mutants still equally organized be more precise, equally strange “hala-bala” jokes and scattered texts on paper, just as suitable for flipping, slight smile, nod and then to be thrown.

Magazine which certainly doesn’t need index of edition because one looks like the other, all the same, simply interchangeable. To idealize Dikobraz is needless. You can view the jokes today as well as ten years ago. Not only that the authors are more or less the same but even the jokes. This was true in the sixties and also in the eighties.

By the monopoly of Dikobraz was given archetype of Czech humor magazine, the foundations were laid which no one examined just because no one has even thought to explore. I deliberately don’t mention his satirical function which has been from the beginning function of killing, denunciation and hurting. Dikobraz satire in the form of so-called municipal humor about plumbers, waiters and moonlights of all kinds was poor and in the political form to domestic and foreign enemies of the Communists rather tragic and evil. However, even the role of the humor magazine was a substitute role.

Needless to stress the short term release, when Dikobraz also suddenly ordered come to real and current humor. This press release prevailed in general and Dikobraz, firmly in the hands of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee, should be considered for entire humor, which was offered in accordance with the regulations and under the supervision of some forty-five years.

Initially a prototype, then sometimes new models on the old chassis. No new solutions, but only from time to time slight facelift. Big picture on the title and then “pel-mel”, tangle, spray, such a way we have become accustomed to perceive humor magazine. Silly stories pretending to be funny, gentle anecdotes, epigrams, rhymes, graphomans pretending to be collected their jokes in “courtrooms”. And only a narrow penetration into reality through the crack “Kyho vyra”. Such is the Czech humor magazine for sixty years and never otherwise. So judges publishers and over and over again are trying to make a replica.

It’s not for us, but the readers want it! And indeed: they, you, we all want it, because them, you, us never thought of doing humor magazine differently. And when it came into one’s mind, he failed. Why? Because readers want Dikobraz! But there’s only space for one Dikobraz, not for two or three. More are not used.

The place after Dikobraz in the Czech Republic has been occupied by magazine “Trnky Brnky”. They go for their readers without prejudice. They have all the attributes of a true “dikoush”, as it generated the past and they run to the future: no lasting value, no ambition for anything new and anything intelligent. Time of free thinking and business added to this eternal model of magazine of Dikobraz-type only one novelty: the freedom to be scurrilous. Not the name, not the brand is a valuable product of Dikobraz. Valuable is the archetype, which the audience adopted as their, as the only correct one. Translated into practice: as the only possible one.

Another humorous magazine is certainly possible, but in order to be accepted by the audience as the correct one and therefore proved to be real, it must be plenty of time. First, it must grow out of the old generation that remember all kinds of “dikobrazes” and new born, to whom “Trnky Brnky” will seem not only stupid, boorish, but also sloppy, shoddy. Maybe then someone can think of that he can make the magazine good and funny at the same time. That drawings in it can not only be funny, but also artistic. Texts that need not be obscene nor popular, but they could be here for clever entertainment. Not only for distraction, but also to develop the intellect.

But then the magazine will have to seek and find readers and armor with perseverance. By turtle age. Ephemera must face away. Who would want to create an advertisement easily wrapped journal will prefer to issue titles about food, singers, dogs, television, fashion and health. Up here, therefore, one well done humor magazine that people were hiding and gave to bind, really arises – and when will not disappear – it will mean that the unfortunate legacy of Dikobraz will be dead.

But even we won’t be here.


(author of the article is a renowned Czech journalist, writer, connoisseur of cartoons, a leading theorist of Cartoon Art, editor of the magazine “e-GAG”)

* Written for the magazine e-GAG / 31st January 2005 (… but content of the article – I think – passed the test of time. Of course, it is just about the printed periodicals, that time I didn’t pay the role of the new i-media … iH)


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