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Provenance and cultural activities
Drawn comics have played a significant role in tramp subculture since its birth in the 1920s. Peculiar to Czechoslovakia, “tramping” has attracted individuals who shared a love of nature and its inherent freedom, many of whom were inspired by romantic ideals promoted in books by Jack London or Karl May. Despite the possible negative connotations associated with the English word (drawn originally from London's autobiographical memoir The Road), the "tramps" in question, “vandráci” or “čundráci,” would simply abandon their urban dwellings for a weekend or during vacation period and visit their favourite sites in the woods or meadows. The place to which they traveled is called a “flek,” and this could be a comfortable place to stay or set up a camp, or a site where the tramps' shed or cabin is built, perhaps itself becoming the heart of a tramp settlement [trampská osada]. An ”osada” is a stable group of tramps, which is typically formed by at least three individuals. Among tramps there are numerous unwritten rules that designate customs such as, for example, the proper way to greet a fellow tramp or shake their hand; but these rules are hardly universally accepted or acknowledged. There is also disagreement, even today, about questions such as “what is tramping?” or “who is a real tramp?”
But a common trait for all tramps is their passion for free roaming, untouched nature, and independence. It was these very inclinations that often caused them problems – and not only during the communist era, for their idea of free-time social activity for weekends or holidays was markedly different from that of the most other people. There was never such a thing as a clear personal hierarchy among tramps; there are no official leaders, the “osady” are independent from one another, and independent from these are the so-called “tramps-loners.” Each “osada” (or each individual) plans their own activities freely, according only to their own mutual agreement. The lack of transparency or clear subordination to any official political structure made tramps highly susceptible to different forms of bullying. But this never robbed them of their relative independence from the political regime or system.
The first “osady” appeared in the area of today's Czech Republic. Gradually, these were joined by Slovak counterparts, especially in the west of present-day Slovakia. The first “osada” reported in Slovakia was founded in Bratislava and named “Waikiki.” In the 1960s, tramps were noticed also in the Košice Region. The gradual spread of tramp subculture throughout all of Czechoslovakia was facilitated partly by the fact that young male citizens were conscripted and obliged to serve the military in different parts of the country. Throughout these times, tramp art thrived, drawing on miscellaneous situations in the everyday lives of tramps: camp meetings, wanderings through nature, relationships and interactions among the people within and outside the subculture. Humour in general often reflects upon the current social, political or economic situation, and tramp humour is no different. This makes it difficult to fully characterize but very rewarding if one wishes to understand the lives of tramps during the socialist era or even today.
Description of content
The Lexoviny collection includes over 200 illustrations, drawings, and cartoon comics by the tramp author Lexo. It offers a general overview of Lexo's output that appeared in the Trampský spravodaj [ Tramp’s newsletter] or other magazines as well as on the Trampnet website since 1989. After “Lexoviny, to najlepšie zo Severky” [Lexoviny: the best from Severka], a second collection “LEXO – Výber z trampskej tvorby” [LEXO – selections from the work of a tramp] was published in 2017. Both books offer valuable insight into the tramp subculture, its art and humour.
- cartoons & caricatures: 100-499
Geographical scope of recent operation
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Important events in the history of the collection
- parts are closed to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Semanová, Radoslava
Severka, interview by Semanová, Radoslava, November 30, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection