New graphic novel gives story of Charles IV as a young man a Batman-like ‘sheen’

Photo: Edika publishing

A new graphic novel has just been published to mark the upcoming 700th anniversary of the birth of the famous Czech ruler Charles IV. Entitled Charles IV: Master of the World, the comic book’s aim, at least in part, is to map his transformation from young prince to Bohemian king and Holy Roman Emperor.

Photo: Edika publishing
The 700th anniversary of the birth of Bohemia’s most famous monarch Charles IV is just around the corner with numerous exhibitions and events. Czech Radio has focused on serious discussion of the monarch’s lasting legacy but also parodies poking fun at his life and times. Now, there is also a graphic novel just out also to present Charles IV in a far different light than is often the case in stuffy high school classrooms. Author Zdeněk Ležák explains that while he followed the official story, Charles IV as comic book character had been given a somewhat modern sheen; he spoke to public broadcaster Czech TV.

“We presented Karel a little as a kind of Batman. His story, in a way, is similar to the comic book hero’s: like Batman, Karel had an unhappy childhood, his parents fought, he didn’t see his mother from the age of three, and he, in a way, was a kind of orphan.”

While Charles IV was given a more modern appearance, the authors of the comics still took inspiration from Vita Caroli, the life of the monarch as was written by Charles IV himself. Battles played a role in his rise to prominence and the comic book took inspiration from his first battle in Italy at the age of 16. Illustrator Jonáš Ledecký:

Photo: Edika publishing
“This is the first battle he took part in at San Felice. I got a big kick out of drawing the frames showing the battle scenes because kids love that! And I’m still a bit of a kid myself!”

Other projects for children are also due to launch in the coming days, namely a website hosted by Czech TV with interactive features, animation, comics, games and more about Charles IV. The comic was drawn by the grandson of the great Czech animator Jiří Trnka, Matyáš, and is set to be published in hard copy this September.