Łukasz Kowalczuk

Posted on October 3rd, 2016

This week’s interview is with Łukasz Kowalczuk a Polish comics creator known for his high-energy, frenetic style of drawing. Tom spoke with Łukasz about how he maintains his high-energy comics, his typical creative process, and his projects for the year ahead.

Your work condenses the most intense and sensational elements of violent films, 80s / 90s cartoons, comics and wrestling. How do you manage to keep all that action and energy going?

I just keep on watching movies, cartoons, wrestling, (barely) playing games, reading comics and books.
There’s so much to check out and there will be no end of research. Thanks to social media (especially Tumblr) I am still finding great stuff.

Examples? I would love to become more familiar with Japanese junk culture: Super Sentai movies, wrestling, many manga and anime series. British annuals – ThunderCats, G. I. Joe, Masters Of The Universe – great format and many authors I know from their later work, need to buy more. Mel Birkrant – I found his old school website a week ago and it just blew me away, all these concepts – Animax, Trash Bag Bunch – amazing work!

kowalczuk_int_1What was it that initially drew you to making comics about all these influences?

When i did my first zine (Nienawidze Ludzi / I Hate People) five years ago topics were very various, mainly inspired by things i don’t like.
Meanwhile I started to do blog/site called Szlam.net and decided that i will do more stories about mutants, lizards, lasers etc.
because comics should be fun and i have enough of irritating stuff on daily basis…

You can say that it’s nostalgia, but i am in to junk and pop culture almost whole life, so i wouldn’t say it’s just matter of “good ol’ days” tribute.

This is a slightly technical question, but the colours are almost toxic neon in places, do you find when you print them that you need to pay for special inks?

In case of Vreckless Vrestlers I used black and basic RGB green for digital version, black and 35% grey for self-published issues and black and pantone green for trade paper back published by Kultura Gniewu. It was very important for me to have toxic color in this book and publisher agreed. Don’t know about costs, but for sure you need to pay more for using pantone.

I started to work full color on regular basic last year. I am using a palette made by Ed Piskor. Just adds two colours – “deep” black and toxic green which I took from one of Adventure Time covers. Color is often overused – “Look Mom, I have Photoshop, let’s use all the filters and effects now!”. Smaller palette = less problems. In some cases I am using only basic CMYK colors – so I am sure that no one will fuck it up in print.

In Vreckless Vrestlers, how did you make that difficult decision of which characters would win and which would lose?

It wasn’t that difficult because I didn’t like some of them from beginning. Well, liked them less than others. They were almost like jobbers in real life wrestling. I was surprised when some friends were angry because I killed their favourite character. Almost like in King’s ‘Misery‘.

kowalczuk_int_0How planned are your stories? What’s your usual creation process – from idea to end result?

VERY rough sketches and text. It’s the stage when someone is checking my English.
I don’t do too much concepts, don’t have time for it.
Pencil (blue and red).
Ink: fineliner, pentel GFKP, brush, marker… lately I am doing big black parts on computer. It’s time saving but I don’t know how big an impact it can have on original art sales in the future.
Scan. Minor corrections. Colour.
Text (if it’s not hand-written already).
Social media bragging.
Working with writer is similar.

Can you tell us more about your current or upcoming projects?

Tough one 😀

Slime! Anthology (collected stuff from 2015) has been successfully backed via Kickstarter, so I need to prepare it for digital and print, also do rewards.
French edition of Vreckless Vrestlers, postponed longer than year, came out in May. Still have hope that some English/American publisher will buy this title.
I am finishing Polish printed edition of RadioActive Cross (published first in digital Aces Weekly).
Strips for 100% Biodegradable (script by Kek-W), SCREWJOB and one-page commissions – these short stories are first in line.
Violent Skate Bulldogs complete collection (English) will be published by Bloody Gore Comix. Need to do cover art for this edition.
Knock Off Wars – Underworld Muscle comic book that we prepare with Luke Toywalker from Berlin. Polish edition of Slime! Anthology (less strips but there will be junk culture magazine and it will be flipbook).
New exhibition and comic book – wrestling themed…

I will be pretty busy till October 🙂

I am sure that’s not all, but that’s what i remember without checking excel tables.
The most important goal is to stop doing boring design corporate shit and start to do comics/illustrations for a living.

Thanks to Łukasz and Tom for this week’s interview! You can find more of Łukasz’s work on his personal website. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.