by Jan Novák, Jaromír 99

March 2016, 208 pages

Available material: English translation, German translation

Foreign editions: Germany (Voland & Quist), France (Des ronds dans l’O), Spain (Aloha editorial), Bulgaria (Janet 45 Publishing), Great Britain (SelfMadeHero)

Rights sold: Italy (Miraggi Edizioni), Greece (Kastaniotis Editions)


The expressiveness of the sharply chiselled faces and tense muscles captures the pain and effort which sport and life require.

A graphic novel about the life of one of the most famous Czech athletes, Emil Zátopek considered by many to be the greatest runner of all time. Zátopek used to say that the threshold of pain and suffering is what separates the boys from the men. Pushing the limits of the body is what made him a phenomenal runner and one of the most famous athletes. When he won the 10km race at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and finished second on the 5km track, he didn’t consider it a great achievement. At the next Olympics in Helsinki he won three gold medals and became a legend, but he also achieved a more important victory – he stood up to the Communist regime by insisting that his colleague, Stanislav Jungwirth, who was originally banned from travelling to Helsinki for political reasons, be allowed to compete. This graphic novel written by Jan Novák and illustrated by Jaromír 99 looks at Zátopek’s greatest achievements as well as his relationship with the love of his life, Dana Zátopková. The three-colour concept reflects the printing technique used for posters and match labels at the time.

Download English sample

ZÁTOPEK: “When you can't keep going, go faster!”

Listen to Jan Novák talk about his inspiration and research for Zátopek, and Jaromír 99 discuss the relevance of the runner's story today.