Tadeusz Baranowski was born on January 6th, 1945, in Zamość. He graduated from the Faculty of Graphic Arts and Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He embarked on his career as a comics artist in 1973 in Świat Młodych (Youth’s World), a magazine targeted at young people, for which he also created the logo and design. His comics were also published in Relax magazine.
In the middle of the 1980s, after receiving an invitation from Grzegorz Rosiński, Baranowski left for France (he was given the opportunity to colour in Thorgal [a Belgian comic book series], which he did not take). Several of his shorter comics accompanying scripts written by Jean Defaux and Michel de Bom were published in Tintin, a Franco-Belgian comics magazine. However, Baranowski returned to his motherland, as he refused to follow the drawing style imposed by the Francophone publishers.
Baranowski is the author of such characters as Bąbelek (Bubble) and Kudłaczek (Shaggy), Orient Men, profesorek Nerwosolek (Professor Nerwosolek), Entomologia Motylkowska, Dragon Diplodok, Lord Hokus-Pokus, and the vampires Szlurp and Burp. The majority of his comic books, considered legendary in Poland, have been repeatedly reissued. Fame was brought to Baranowski by his comic albums entitled Skąd się bierze woda sodowa ...i nie tylko, Na co dybie w wielorybie czubek nosa Eskimosa, Antresolka profesorka Nerwosolka, and Podróż smokiem. The last comic book serves as a base for a full-length animated film being created – among others - by Wojtek Wawszczyk and Tomek Leśniak, the co-authors of the animated movie Jeż Jerzy (George the Hedgehog).
Tadeusz Baranowski, Skąd się bierze woda sodowa ...i nie tylko, a multiple-panel comic book sequence, photo: Culture.pl
Baranowski has also created other comic books, such as Porady Praktycznego Pana (Mr. Practical’s Tips, which used to be published in Razem (Together) magazine), W pustyni i w paszczy, Jak Ciotka Fru-Bęc uratowała świat przed zagładą, To doprawdy kiepska sprawa, kiedy bestia się pojawia (written by Anna Baranowska), O zmroku, Orient Men: Forever na zawsze, and Historia wyssana z sopla lodu (written by Jean Defaux).
Baranowski’s comic books primarily attracted the attention of younger readers, but it is only adults that are able to fully appreciate the value of Baranowski’s works. His drawings are stylish, and his lines – unreal and drawn freely. A single panel often contains numerous details that could shape a separate narrative in addition to the main plot.
Baranowski played around with comics as a visual medium, experimenting with the framing and composition of multiple-panel sequences of comic strips, appearing in his own comic books as their author and making his characters 'aware' of being part of a comic strip, where those characters would express requests for specific adventures or try to influence the official layout of the medium (for instance by ‘wilfully’ moving from one panel of a comic strip to another). The script and language of Baranowski’s comics are as equally characteristic as his drawings. The artist is known for his crazy sense of humour and word puns. Those puns often constituted apposite remarks about the reality of the PRL period.
Apart from drawing his own comic books, Baranowski also used to illustrate books of others, including textbooks for children, as well as work in the field of commercial design. He designed the characters and decorations of the animated movie Filemon i Przyjaciele (Filemon and Friends). For the purpose of producing a milk drink commercial, he created a series of single-panel comics Przygody twistującego słonia Twisti (The Adventures of Twisti the Twisting Elephant), which remain an unattainable ideal for similar productions in Poland. The majority of those works were later published by the author as a mini-album. Baranowski’s comic book about Antresolek was one of two Polish works included in Paul Gravett’s book 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die.
In 2004, Baranowski commenced his work on his final four albums which he had been commissioned to create by his readers (ultimately, only two albums saw the light of day). In 2012, Baranowski announced that due to both financial and health reasons he would end his career as a graphic artist. He then started painting again.
The artist was awarded with the Silver Gloria Artis Medal for Merit to Culture.
Written by Łukasz Chmielewski, December 2013
Translated by: Małgorzata Pachoł, December 2013
Website devoted to Tadeusz Baranowski's painting: tadeuszbaranowski.eu
Website devoted to his comic books and applied graphics: tbaranowski.com