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Graphic Literature

St. Barbara

In their Muriel Award-winning graphic novel, Marek Šindelka, Vojtěch Mašek, and Marek Pokorný track an obsessed reporter on the trail of an elusive cult leader.
At two o'clock then?
What? Two o'clock?
You mean today?
I'm not sure I can make it, Jakub.
I'm really busy, have to go to work.
I'll be in touch...
It all started in Hamlíkov near Brno.
A local man captured a terrifying image from a neighbor's cellar on his video baby monitor.
A little girl, tied up, bruised, scarred, undernourished and terrified...
Initial findings showed that the twelve-year-old Anna had been severely abused by her adoptive mother, Lucie Baumanová...
...And her sister Tereza.
Little Anna was provisionally placed in a children's crisis center.
But she went missing that same night.
Hundreds of police, as well as the army and fire brigade, started looking for the girl.
The fruitless investigation brought more alarming facts to light.
New findings showed that the sisters were not acting alone.
They had links to the Movement of the Grail, and little Anna's abuse apparently had a sectarian background.
A crucial breakthrough occurred when Tereza Baumanová admitted to investigators...
...That little Anna was, in fact, a thirty-four-year-old adult, Barbara Ŝ., who was only posing as a child.
She herself had helped to change Barbara's identity by forging medical reports.
She also said that the mastermind was a man called Josef Ŝ., aka Chan, Barbara's father.
An unscrupulous man surrounded by a group of devotees, former members of a scout group called the Ants...
...Whom Chan recruited to create a network of collaborators in the 1990s, launching various business ventures...including arms sales.
Six months later, Barbara Ŝ. was finally found.
The police in Tromsø, a city in the north of Norway, detained a missing boy, Adam Gruber.
To everyone's surprise this turned out... be Barbara Ŝ in another guise.
For six months she had attended primary school, posing as a quiet boy, Adam, without anyone noticing anything.
The school suspected that Adam, too, had been abused.
Barbara was brought back to the Czech Republic for questioning.
The Bauman sisters were convicted of lying to the authorities, infringement of personal liberty, and causing bodily harm, and were sentenced to several years in prison.
The background of the case has never been explained. It is not known what those involved wanted to achieve.
After the trial, Barbara Ŝ disappeared without a trace.
The greatest mystery is why a principal actor has never been questioned, charged, or convicted—the man known as...
Josef Ŝ.
Would you mind?
The main thing...
...You must remember...
...Is that it's just a story...
...For that damned paper of yours!
What did you say?
So see you there?
I'll do my best.
Don't forget!
I won't.
Nine already.
Calendar reminder: MEETING!!!!! is starting at 9:00.
...You know we had a meeting at nine?
You mean today?
Are you getting any sleep?
Come over to the meeting room.
How's the story going?
I need to check some things, but it's already incredible...
It's so complex, the more I learn the more scary it is.
Half of Brno is involved.
I need a few more days.
You keep saying that.
I'm nearly there! I won't ask again. I'm going to meet the leaders of the Grail Movement...I'll write it up tonight.
What movement? Never heard of them.
It's a crucial lead. It'll help me find those who pulled the strings.
I need more time! I've almost cracked it!
It's an equation with a thousand unknowns!
An equation with a thousand unknowns?
You know who I heard this from?
Michal Hameln.
Who's that?
Michal Hameln spent more time on this case than anyone else.
The one who lost his marbles?
That's the one.
I need more time! It's an equation with a thousand unknowns. I've almost cracked it!
And I need money, I'm going to Brno for two weeks.
Something else I need to find out...
...Is there some legal way... get hold of someone's text messages?
...Do you think the paper could afford for me...
...To go undercover?
No smoking here, do you mind?
I just need papers, a flat, some clothes, a mask, nothing major, a nose job might do the trick.
I know a guy at the film studio...
That's your coffee, not an ashtray.
You're overworked. Take a few days off...and get some rest.
But I've read everything on the subject and no Hameln ever came up...
Because his piece was never published. It ran to over 200 pages. And that was just the intro...
My drawing was the best.
What did you draw?
A teddy bear.
Wait here.
Don't be frightened...
...I'm a journalist.
That was the last straw.
I couldn't defend him after that. Luckily, Hora didn't sue.
But we had to let Michal go anyway.
He was getting paranoid and accused me of ratting him out.
So, let me say it again: it's not your job to solve this case. That was up to the police.
All I want is the basic facts.
You have one day.
Do you still have Hameln's details?
Are you even listening to me?

From Svatá Barbora. © 2018 by Marek Šindelka, Vojtěch Mašek, and Marek Pokorný. By arrangement with the authors. Translation © 2019 by Julia Sherwood and Peter Sherwood. All rights reserved.


From Svatá Barbora. © 2018 by Marek Šindelka, Vojtěch Mašek, and Marek Pokorný. By arrangement with the authors. Translation © 2019 by Julia Sherwood and Peter Sherwood. All rights reserved.

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