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Presentation / Concert: Zátopek in Comics w/authors Novák and Švejdík

Date: 07 June 2016 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Venue: Czech Embassy

The Embassy of the Czech Republic features the presentation and concert "The Story of the Legendary Czech Runner Emil Zátopek in Comics" with writer Jan Novák and animator / musician Jaromír Švejdík on June 7, 2016, at 6 pm. Novák and Švejdík, authors of a new comic book about Olympic long-distance runner Emil Zátopek, will present their work for the first time in the US. Švejdík, who is also an excellent musician, will also perform a selection of his songs. 

The protagonist of the eponymous comic book is Emil Zátopek, a runner who completely changed the training methods in track. His biographical story turns on an incident from the days when the political terror in Communist Czechoslovakia culminated and Zatopek stood up to the Stalinist bureaucracy. He did so even while his coach was already in a labor camp, and he did it on behalf of another runner, the future world record holder in the mile by the name of Stanislav Jungwirth, who was the only other medal contender on the Czechoslovak track-and-field squad. Zátopek prevailed in this dangerous contests of wills and went on to win all three of the long distance races at the Helsinki Olympics of 1952, a feat that will never be equaled.

Zátopek's legacy will be honored at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where Czech athletes will sport their national team uniforms with a self-portrait drawn by the decorated Olympic athlete Emil Zátopek (1922-2000).


Date: June 7, 2016, 6 pm

Admission is free. | RSVP required by June 5 to www.zatopek.eventbrite.com

Location: Embassy of the Czech Republic
3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008


The early 1950s in Czechoslovakia was a bleak period in the country’s history, but there was also some escape from politics. In 1952, the Summer Olympics were held in the Finnish capital Helsinki and the undisputed hero of the games was the greatest Czech runner of all time, Emil Zátopek. Despite his extraordinary style, with his face contorted, his head and torso swinging, and emitting sounds that earned him the nickname of “the Czech locomotive,” he went to Helsinki having already twice broken the world record for the fastest 10 km run. His dream at the Olympics was to win two gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. First, on July 20, came the 10,000 meters. The excitement was enormous as Zátopek pulled ahead in the final few hundred meters and steamed across the line, breaking the Olympic record in the process. Four days later, on July 24 1952, came the 5,000 meters final. This race was even more dramatic, and the excitement of the two radio reporters reached an even higher pitch as Zátopek surged ahead from fourth to first place. Once again Emil Zátopek had won gold and broken the Olympic record. But this was not all. At the Helsinki Olympics, Zátopek also ran what was – amazingly – his first ever marathon. That was just three days later on July 27. Once again the Olympic fanfare sounded, as the leading athlete entered the stadium for the final few hundred metres. The crowd rose to its feet with cries of “ZÁTOPEK… ZÁTOPEK…”

Jan Novák is a Czech American writer, playwright, and screenwriter. His books include On the Far Side of the Pond; Grandpa; So Far, So Good; Commies, Crooks, Gypsies, Spooks & Poets; The Grand Life; The Willys Dream Kit; and Striptease Chicago. Among other laudations, he was awarded two Carl Sandburg prizes for the Best Book of the Year by the Chicago Public Library and the Magnesia Litera for the Czech Book of the Year in 2004. He has translated numerous works from Czech into English, including Václav Havel's one-act plays, published under the title of Občan Vaněk/Citizen Vaněk and his authorized adaptation of Havel’s first full-length theater piece is called the Office Party.  As a screenwriter, Novák worked with Miloš Forman on the film Valmont, and in the 1990s he wrote the script for the Czech film Báječná léta pod psa (The Wonderful Years that Sucked) a box office smash in the Czech Republic. He has also worked with directors Juraj Jakubisko, Ivan Passer and David Ondříček. A collection of his plays has been published in Czech. In the years 1998-2016, the Bratislava’s Astorka Theatre has had in its repertory his plays An Ax Murder in St. Peterburg and Tolstoy and Money.

Jaromír Švejdík (aka Jaromír 99) is an artist, musician, and animator. In 2016, he published with Jan Novák a new comics about the legendary Czech runner Emil Zatopek. In 2012, Jaromír accepted an offer from the British publishing company SelfMadeHero, to make Franz Kafka’s novel The Castleinto a comic. Publishersweekly.com described the work as a “powerful interpretation of Kafka’s timeless themes.” For this adaptation, he and co-creator David Zane Mairowitz received a nomination from San Diego’s Will Eisner Awards 2014, for Best Adaptation from Another Medium. As a graphic artist, he also co-created with Jaroslav Rudiš the comic Alois Nebel, which was made into an animated feature and selected as the Czech entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 2011 Academy Awards. The film was also named the Best Animated Feature at the 2012European Film Awards. Additionally, he composed the soundtrack for the film. Previously, Jaromír created the comic Bomber and collaborated with his band Jaromír 99 & The Bombers on the soundtrack. He was awarded the Muriel Prize for his first solo comic strip “Bomber.” He has also worked as set designer and storyboard artist for films such as Samotáři (Loners)Jedna ruka netleská (One Hand Can't Clap), and Grandhotel