Alejandro Jodorowsky in Prague

With only a few days to go before the start of the Book World Prague book fair, the organisers could finally announce the participation of one of the most outstanding figures from the world of comics and surrealist cinematography, Alejandro Jodorowsky. His visit had already been planned for last year, when the book fair's focus was on comic books, but was eventually cancelled. This year's topic of Latin America is also connected with Jodorowsky's name, because the author comes from Chile and his acclaimed films were made in Mexico. "I'm very happy to be in Prague, which was one of my life's dreams," said the living legend of modern art during a debate attended by over two hundred visitors.

Alejandro Jodorowsky has tried his hand at numerous artistic professions during his life. He started as a clown in circus but soon started creating the venue's shows. He became famous in the early 1970s both as both actor and director of the films El Topo and The holy Mountain, which had shocked US audiences. In those days they represented a major breakthrough for Mexican cinematography and John Lennon was one of the director's fans. Jodorowsky reached an even more legendary status in the world of comic books with his Incal series, marking his collaboration with the artist Jean Giraud, better known under his penname Moebius.

Jodorowsky, now already a nonagenarian, considers the multiplicity of artistic forms he has employed throughout the years to be his life's fulfilment. "Today's society likes calling people directors, actors or painters, but I never wanted to be considered a single-category artist," he says. "It is very important for me not to have any constraints, to be truly free." He is also critical of the contemporary consumerist and money-centred lifestyle, which he sees as negatively affecting the arts. "An artist shouldn't be doing his art for fame, power or money, but as a contribution to the world," he describes his approach. When an audience member asked how to stay true to these ideals and yet make enough money for a living, Jodorowsky answered that not all work should be done with profit in mind. His film career had cost him four million dollars, he told the visitors, which he spent on the production without expecting any of it to return. He made most of his money from his successful comic books.

Despite his age, Jodorowsky is still very active and lively. "Oh yes, I could stand here in front of you as a shaky old man, but it all comes down to how a person feels. That's why I walk with my head upright and an optimistic mind." The readers can look forward to his new comic book entitled The Sons of El Topo, which he is currently working on with several artists. It is a sequel to the iconic El Topo film, which was originally planned as a movie.

Alejandro Jodorowsky had won the audience over with his spontaneity and emotional way of speaking, interlaced with numerous jokes, enjoyed by the many book fair visitors. "You see, I was told that Czechs almost never laugh," he said approvingly, "and you are laughing in the most beautiful way!" he added and received a new round of applause. The last opportunity to meet the renowned author of comic books and films at the Prague book fair will be on Friday, at 2 pm, at the author's book signing.