In 1934 the government of Poland declared Stanislav Szukalski the country’s ‘Greatest Living Artist.’ It built the Szukalski National Museum in Warsaw to hold his massive sculptures and dramatic, mythological paintings.
When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they destroyed the museum and all of Szukalski’s sculptures and paintings. He fled to the United States, where no one recognized him as a celebrated hero. He lived in a small apartment in Glendale, California and made a meager income drawing maps for the aerospace industry. He devoted the rest of his life developing his theory of “Zermatism,” which centered on his belief that human beings were under the control of a race of human-yeti hybrids (the result of ‘yeti apes’ raping human women). Szukalski wrote over 10,000 pages about Zermatism and illustrated his argument with 40,000 illustrations.
Szukalski would have remained in total obscurity if he hadn’t been discovered by a few popular underground cartoonists: Robert Williams, Rick Griffin, and Jim Woodring – who recognized Szukalski’s immense artistic talent, and befriended him. (I interviewed Woodring about his friendship with the incredibly arrogant yet charming Szukalski on my Boing Boing podcast, Gweek. You can listen to it here.)
Several years ago I had the opportunity to see the entire Zermatism archives firsthand. They are bound in massive books and are in the possession of comic book art collector Glenn Bray. It was a stunning sight. Behold!!! The Protong represents less than 1% of the total Zermatism oeuvre, but it’s enough to give you a feel for the depth of breadth of Szukalski’s lifelong obsession.