The rebirth of Fram, the Polar Bear in Cluj
Fram, the Polar Bear, the inter-war story of Cezar Petrescu, fascinated tens of generations of children. After nearly a hundred years, a team of talented artists from Cluj (draftsmen, graphic designers, scriptwriters and artists) revive the fascination of this story.
Fram’s World is a wonderful project that belongs to DeveoMedia Studio, a team of artists set on big deeds. “We are a handful of people from Cluj who refuse to grow up. We are graphic artists, illustrators, cartoonists, persons with ideas and imagination who want to enjoy their childhood at the age of 30. But we still want to help others rediscover their inner child, even for only a few minutes per day. So I had an idea and we worked with the passion of a child to put it into practice. We decided to rediscover Fram and offer him to children of the 21st century. We want to bring back the lovely polar bear in the hearts of today’s children! We decided to open them a door to the fantastic world of the friendliest polar bear. We thought, we changed our mind, drew and rediscovered, and found the solution for that. We reimagined Fram’s story in 10 wonderful illustrated books and decided to print them, “explains Adrian Barbu, the soul of the project.
Our childhood stories deserve to be told again and again.
“Creștemtemide.ro is the platform that helped us fulfill our dream. The crowd-funding system is new in Romania, but those who know about it have helped us from the first moment. It seems that others also agree with us and believe that childhood stories deserve to be told again and again. That’s what we would like to believe after already gathering 1,200 lei from public donations within 24 hours of launch, and just five days after launching our project, we managed to raise the money we hoped to gather in two months. This mobilization took us a little by surprise and we had to make a decision: to stop and print the books as we originally intended, or to finish the campaign and bring Fram into the homes of as many children as possible. And we decided to continue and to allocate additional funds to social-humanitarian campaigns. ”
Invasion of cultural imports
“We wanted some time ago, after years of outsourcing (meaning working for foreign companies), to create a product of our own based on an autochthonous story character. Fram seemed to us the most appropriate because many adults (and we asked a lot!) remember him as one of the most beloved characters of their childhood. They did not even remember many others, and if you look, you will see how hard it is to find a Romanian character that you have loved. Most were either political or insignificant. Among them, Fram takes by far the first place. Likewise, Fram is about to be forgotten: it is a collateral effect of imported brands invasion in the field of books, magazines or films. So we thought of resurrecting him, because he has great chances to become a childhood hero for the little ones now, as he was for their parents, “explains Adrian Barbu, a graduate of Literature and Graphics, the artistic director and screenwriter of the project.
“We felt the need for something of our own, both as a studio and cultural area, so to speak. This is happening at some point in all countries invaded by cultural imports. We were aiming from the start for a target audience of preschoolers to small scholars. I needed a character that would accompany them throughout their childhood (and therefore, either an open story without a definitive ending, or one that could be continued beyond its original end), “Barbu continues.
The adventures of the polar bear during the first months of his life, his life with the Eskimo after being found on a floating ice-floe and his journey to the Norwegian port of Bergen, after being bought from the Eskimo by a ship captain, are the first three books that will appear this year. The first three books of the series we are imagining will arrive in limited edition to those who have supported their printing, in a timely manner for the winter holidays, in a special box, as they have not seen in Romania before. These editions will be unique: each book will have customized interior covers with specific winter motifs and the names of those who contributed to CrestemIdei.ro will be listed at the end of the books.
We have to offer an interactive option to the children.
“The Fram’s World project is slightly larger than the ten interactive books that have already received AFCN funding approval. Raising funds for the educational and cultural sector is not easy at all. The fact that we won this competition is a very encouraging sign. Access to Fram’s story on Android and iPad platforms will be limited due to this. We want more than that, we want to really bring Fram into the lives of children and make him stay there. We’d love to see him on backpacks, shirts, jerseys, and caps, to know that I did something that kids of today will remember over twenty years and show it to their children. Just like nowadays parents who remember Fram do. But that implies a much greater impact and the only thing that can produce it now is the printed book. So we thought that new products deserve new methods during new times. The idea of crowdfunding is relatively new in Romania. It is courageous, it involves bold and enthusiastic people at both ends of the project; it is therefore suitable right from the start for Fram’s World. For us, crowdfunding means more than funding: it’s a realistic way to test the public impact. We are creators / producers, not publishers and distributors. Fram will really get to the public only when a powerful publisher will assume the responsibility to print the books for large circulation and to broadcast them at national level – which is what we aspire for.
I have to admit, the reaction of the public was really energetic: complete funding of the project in the first five days (and preorders continue!) is already encouraging and the reactions of the social media audience have shown us that the idea of Fram’s World project is good and right for the current place and time and has great chances of becoming a long-term success on a large scale. As I said, we have big plans for Fram. ”
In the 21st century and in a world full of technology, you have to offer children an interactive option also. The electronic books of the series are supported by an audio feature recorded by a professional narrator. This automated story helps children learn reading with the help of the word syllabification option and the words “highlight” as they are read by the narrator. And, because the most important thing about a book, digital also, is what we learn from it, we have developed an interactive, child-friendly system. When we press a picture, as for example the polar night, we receive an educational explanation – “Did you know that night at the North Pole can last even more than 24 hours?”
What is important to remember is that Fram’s message to the “parents” is NOT “help us” or “donate” money, but simply: enter on crestemide.ro and contribute to the revival of Fram, the Polar Bear of our childhood, who can become their childhood hero too! Santa can bring Fram as a Christmas present!
Published Tuesday November 22, 2016