Ferda Mravenec or Ferda the Ant is a Czech cartoon and literary character by Ondřej Sekora. Generations of children have known him to be a hardworking ant who always does the right thing. Though his beginnings might have been quite the opposite…
Ferda as We Know Him
He’s brave, smart and hardworking. He wears a red bowtie and almost everyone in the insect kingdom looks up to him. Ferda (known abroad also as Ferdy) is the exact opposite of his neighbor Brouk Pytlík (Baggins the Bug) who says and does as if he knew everything and had been everywhere. Ferda helps damsels in distress and protects his neighborhood, always with an optimistic view of the world. His motto is “Práce všeho druhu” or “Work of all kinds”.
Today’s children know his stories from new editions of Sekora’s books, short evening TV series called Večerníček and since 2010 also from a comic book. Less common but also known is the Spelling book of Ferda for children who have just started elementary school.
Except for the adventures of Ferda, what’s so captivating are the drawings. Sekora drew many colorful details and anthropomorphized many inhabitants of the insect world.
How the Ant Came to Life
There are some disputes over whether Ferda came to life in 1933 or six years prior, in 1927. Why is this important, you say? Well, it’s because the ant that Ondřej Sekora drew and published in 1927 in the magazine called Pestrý týden was very different from the Ferda we’ve known since 1933. The ant from the 1927 cartoon is a drunkard and a vandal.
However, according to Tomáš Prokůpek, the redactor of the Ferda comic from 2010, the ant from the 1927 story wasn’t Ferda, it was simply an ant without any similarity to the beloved ant hero. Whether you believe the original Ferda was a drunkard or fair and square, one thing is for sure – Sekora’s ant stories come from the year 1927.
The ant called Ferda first appeared in the newspaper Lidové noviny in 1933 in The Adventures of Ferda the Ant. The first issues were for adults rather than children, Ferda was a seasoned ant who practiced shooting and fought the enemy in response to the international events (events predating the WWII). Some of the first comic strips pictured even torn limbs or a gas attack. In one episode, the ant even gets married and has a son.
After Sekora and his editor agreed on publishing the first book, the author adapted the stories to be suitable for children. The last newspaper story of Ferda appeared in Lidové noviny in 1941.
Later, there was also a marionette movie but much more significant was the ant’s regular appearance in the children’s magazine Matřídouška from 1945 to 1951. Because of his wife’s Jewish heritage, Sekora was forced to live in German work camps. After the WW II, he became a devoted communist as a response to his experience and this reflected partially in Ferda’s adventures – he went on brigáda (voluntary non-paid work often in the agriculture), worked on fulfilling the five-year-plans and fought the saboteurs.
Where to get Ferda’s stories
If you don’t want to just rely on YouTube, you can get DVDs with Ferda’s stories in Czech here (America) or as audiobook here. Both these links are affiliate links which means that in case of a sale I receive a commission and commissions are what helps keep this blog up and running 😉