Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski, better known by his pen name Papcio Chmiel, a cartoonist famous for his adventures of Tytus, Romek and A’Tomek, has died aged 97. The cartoons, which ran from 1957 to 2009, featured the escapades of two boy scouts, Romek and A’Tomek, and Tytus, a chimpanzee who could speak. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook on Friday that Chmiel, “showed how beautiful and malleable the Polish language is, and what power, especially in the times of the grey PRL (communist-era – PAP), imagination and truth have. Rest in peace, Papa. “There have been few artists who have shaped to such a degree the imagination of successive generations of Poles,” Morawiecki continued.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum also paid tribute to the late cartoonist. “Very, very sad news…. Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski, known as ‘Papcio Chmiel’ – an artist, creator of cult comics, Warsaw Uprising insurgent of the ‘Garluch’ 7th Infantry Regiment, died in the night. He was 97. Honour his memory!” the museum wrote on Twitter on Friday. Papcio Chmiel (also known as Grandpa Chmiel) was born on June 7, 1923 in Warsaw. As a member of the wartime Home Army his home hosted secret meetings of the underground resistance, and he fought in the Warsaw Uprising.
The battle for the Polish capital served as the backdrop in a 2009 cartoon that featured his three heroes. “For 50 years, or since the creation of Tytus, this topic has followed me,” Chmielowski said after the comic was released. ”But how to show Tytus with his monkey jokes about the background of events of tragic martyrdom, the uncertainty of life every second, dying colleagues, mothers’ tears, collapsing houses and German murders? What I drew cannot of course serve as a historical document, but although it is a fantasy, it is based on real insurrectionary events.” In the same year, Chmielewski painted a mural at the Warsaw Rising Museum presenting Tytus, Romek and A’Tomek as Uprising fighters in which the three characters work in the boy scouts’ field post office.
Tytus is a postman in the painting who delightfully tramples on a Nazi flag. “That mural is my personal revenge on the Germans, I could be pleased that Tytus tramples the Nazi flag, all the more so as I unfortunately belong to the generation that still has the occupation before my eyes,” Chmielewski said. In 2019, President Andrzej Duda awarded Chmielewski the Independence Centenary Medal.