Renowned cartoonist decorated by President

Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski, aka “Papcio Chmiel”, was decorated on Thursday by Poland’s President Andrzej Duda with the Medal of Polish Centurial Independence.

“The father of [comic book heroes] Tytus, Romek and A’Tomek, Poland’s Home Army [AK] soldier and Warsaw Insurgent H. J. Chmielewski received the medal personally in his studio. The medal was passed [onto Mr Chmielewski] by minister Wojciech Kolarski,” the President’s Office tweeted.

Mr Chmielewski, born June 7, 1923 in Warsaw, is best known for authoring a long series of comic books that have been featuring an adventurous trio of two teenagers – a tall, lanky even, long-haired Romek, and short, plump, snooty, smart and bespectacled A’Tomek – and a chimpanzee by the name Tytus de Zoo.

The series kicked-off in 1966 with “Tytus, Romek and A’Tomek – Book I: Tytus becomes a scout” and featured the trio, and the unearthly vehicles designed by a secondary character professor T. Alent, go through a range of gripping and all the same humorous adventures. The chimpanzee and his two sidekicks passed a driving licence, travelled to the Wild West and even traversed the outer space.

Over 40 comic books featuring Tytus, Romek and A’Tomek” were created by “Papcio Chmiel”. The first 18 books were published by the “Youth’s World” (“Świat Młodych”) publishing house.

Although Mr Chmielewski’s insurgent past is less known than his artistic accomplishment, it still deserves attention as in 1943 the future “Papcio Chmiel” joined Poland’s Home Army (AK), which is one of the most complex and efficient armed resistance movements of the WWII era that fought against the Nazi-German and Soviet forces that occupied Poland in 1939-1945.

Mr Chmielewski also fought in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 under nom de guerre “Jupiter” as a member of the 7th infantry regiment “Garłuch”.

The Medal of Polish Centurial Independence is awarded to individuals who contributed to the strengthening of Poland’s sovereignty and partook in the regaining of its independence. It is also granted to individuals who discerned themselves with impeccable civil or military service and endeavour in the field of science, literature and art, and also worked for the democratic transition.