Let’s leaf through a comic book which seeks to promote Romania’s wildlife and traditions.
Archaic scenery, talented craftsmen, and the main character, Luca, a child who set off for an unusual journey through the Hills of Transylvania, a journey that will take him from the village of Cornatel to Sighisoara and all the way down to Saschiz. All these are the ingredients of a comic book which seeks to promote Romania’s wildlife and traditions, and which has been recently launched.
The head of the World Wild Fund for Nature Romania Csibi Magor has told us what the aim of the book is: ”Whenever we speak about protected areas, it is very hard to bring them closer, especially closer to city dwellers. That’s why it is very difficult for us to make sense of the fact that we somehow try to protect nature from people. With this comic book, what we have tried to show is that we’ve got that side of nature, which is very precious and very spectacular, but apart from that, there are also the rural communities, the establishments and all that. And here it’s about two children, one from the city and another one from the countryside, who discover together Romania’s second largest protected area. They do that step by step, starting with the flora, the fauna, the villages, crafts and trades and thus we somehow show all those who will read our little book what a protected area means, the wonderful things inside it, how much flora, fauna, how much nature there is, how many traditions, villages and how people inhabiting those areas learned to live in harmony with nature.”
Luca roams landscapes full of flowers, using wagons and little donkeys, chats with the locals, observes birds just like a famous biologist, he restores houses, does some sheep-clipping and tries his hand at pottery.
The representative of Adept, an NGO running projects in the area, Ben Mehedin, told us what the book speaks about: ”We speak about the hills, we speak about Transylvania and we speak about childhood. All these are shrouded in mystery. For a child, this could be the experience of his life. They say that when asked to draw a chicken, children made the drawing of a chicken with no feathers, as that’s how they were sold in the supermarket, because they didn’t know what a chicken looked like. Well, in Transylvania, in the Hills of Transylvania, we can see some nature. It is an inhabited area, with many people living there. There is also some nature left although there isn’t a single spot where man did not plunder nature of its resources. In our little book you will find a map of a multicultural journey: nature, people, places, fresh air and archaic scenery, as far as the eye can see.”
As they set about writing the comic book, World Wild Fund for Nature specialists who supervised the inventory of species in the Hills of Transylvania worked jointly with scriptwriter Adina Popescu and illustrator Alexandru Ciubotariu. World Wild Fund for Nature Romania worked with the Vellant Publishers to get their book published. The publication of the first volume of this comic book was possible due to a Swiss grant offered via The Swiss Contribution for the Enlarged European Union.
Attending the launch of the comic book, Louise Marie Stoicescu of the Swiss Embassy in Bucharest highlighted the importance of the project: ”For us, it means a lot, since it is a tangible outcome of the projects the Swiss-Romanian cooperation program has been running in Romania. A part of the program, running as “the thematic background for the support of civil society” was created with the clear purpose of supporting the non-governmental organizations in the field of protected areas as well in the field of social work. Receiving funding were about 99 projects, half of which have been completed. The project we’ve been presented with tonight has also been completed and we are happy to see they have a tangible outcome and not only that, we’re happy that through that project we were able to support highly enthusiastic people, who have done wonderful things. I for one, although I am quite familiar with the area, was very delighted with the Hirtibaci plateau and the network of non-governmental organizations that got together to turn the area into something viable. This project has certainly reached its goal.”
In the next book, the main character plans an adventurous trip to the Mountainous Region of Banat, with walks taken alongside the locals, traditionally known as Gugulani, as well as adventures with legendary aurochs. However, the initiators of the project thought out a mechanism by which the next books should be self-financed, that is, the money collected from the selling of the first book should finance the following ones.
The illustrator of “Beyond the Horizon”, Alexandru Ciubotaru, tells us more about this wonderful project: “Let me just extend my thanks to all those who made this project possible, a project that I hold most dear, and on which we have worked a lot. This project has undergone great transformations, from the first ideas all the way to the final product. (…) I hope that people who read the book will be inspired and will want to visit the beautiful places that it presents, as this is the very purpose of it. I hope you really enjoy this book.”