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At the age of 79, the Hungarian cartoonist, graphic artist, illustrator, cultural historian, and artist of the nation Marcell Jankovics has passed away, the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA) announced on Saturday. Beside his films which are known widely by Hungarians, Jankovics will be remembered for his community-building, positive personality.

Marcell Jankovics was born in Budapest in 1941. His family was evicted to Öcsöd in 1951, from where they could only return to Budapest in 1953. After graduating from the Benedictine High School of Pannonhalma, he applied twice to the Faculty of Architecture at the Budapest University of Technology but was rejected both times because of fabricated charges against his father.

Between 1959 and 1960 worked at the Material Testing Laboratory of the Power Plant Repair And Maintenance Company, a defining moment in his life. It was here that a colleague introduced him to the Pannonia Film Company, where he began working in animation in 1960, then becoming a director in 1965.

Between 1965 and 1968 he worked on the widely successful Gustav film series with Attila Dargay and József Nepp. After he gained recognition and experience working on Gustav, his projects and ambitions continued, and he developed his own style to his art.

By 1971 he had begun teaching animation at the High School of Fine and Applied Arts. In 1973 he contributed an exceptional milestone and turning point to Hungarian cartoon film history; János Vitéz.

He continued to make short films and cartoons, many of them winning international recognition. His 1974 work, titled Sisyphus, was even nominated for an Oscar in 1974.

Regarding his films, The Academy of Arts, where Jankovics was appointed with an honorary presidency, said that “with his form-breaking, stripped-down, unique short films, Jankovics wants to create a cathartic experience, startling one, and provoking thought.”

Hungarians all around the world will remember Jankovics’ Hungarian Folk Tales (Magyar Népmesék) series, beginning in 1977, which he wrote, directed, and designed all the way until 2002.

MMA wrote that the world knew Marcell Jankovics as a cartoonist, but he also made contributions in graphics, book illustrations, and cultural history. He wrote many articles, studies, and books on the arts and cultural history as well. All of Jankovics’ contributions will remain a bulwark of Hungarian culture.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI