Violent Skate Bulldogs
by Łukasz Kowalczuk
Bloody Gore Comix [available online]
B&W / $4.99
Review by Tom Mortimer
Łukasz Kowalczuk’s Violent Skate Bulldogs is a story about three rebellious bulldogs (and no, I don’t just mean they awkwardly wear skull pattern neck scarves).
To properly set up the mindset of this book, I’d like to delve a little into its inspiration: being a media targeted ‘youth’ in the late 1980s and 90s. This was a time where animated adventures taught kids about the dangers of evil corporations and polluting the environment (usually so that they could mass market plastic toys made in factories overseas).
Even outside of comics themselves, creators were filtering the flavours of alternative culture into the mainstream via animated cartoons (a prominent example being Matt Groening with The Simpsons, for example). Likewise, another notable mention is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, originally a comic book mocking played-out mutation tropes – it went on to ironically sky rocket the trend so extensively that all manner of things were thrown into the mix (such as street dwelling sharks, space hares, and mice motorbike enthusiasts from another planet). Even Troma Entertainment’s low budget (but highly graphic) adult indie film The Toxic Avenger, became reworked into an animated series for children (and naturally a tie in toy range).
On top of all this, the booming video games scene added a whole new area for parental anxiety. Concerns grew for this poor, screen glued, backwards cap wearing, grotty youth.
This manic background has become a radiating landscape for Kowalczuk’s creations, as he scavenges neon plastic artefacts and claws them all back into the slime dripping realm of indie comics. Violent Skate Bulldogs is no different. The story is set in a toxic soda medicated dystopia, where bloody, rugged, cartoon violence appears to be the answer to pretty much everything. Our three anarchic heroes raise their fists to protect rebellious skateboarders from an oppressive police regime, that takes a little too much pleasure in its daily duties.
Some creators are solely in the comic game to draw what they love, which in the small press realm is often something to celebrate and can harbour some great results. However, a sequential medium needs some consideration to get that base frame in place. Sometimes Kowalczuk’s drive for violent fun imagery can slightly downplay any real narrative structure, focusing more intensely on constant visual stimulation. That said, this publication is an example of where he gets the balance right, and perhaps also demonstrates his progression as a creator. A progression that will undoubtedly occur rapidly, as the man is a comics making machine (and has probably created three new titles in the time it took me to review this one).
His illustrating ability is unquestionable. Raw, but with a quirky edge, it can take and deliver some punches. It also helps disguise some clever little tricks. For example, as part of maintaining the sensational experience, Kowalczuk plays around with experimental layouts and panels, which read easily and the variation helps keep everything pumped. There are roughly 29 pages of comic here, and to keep the drama running for that duration takes noteworthy ability.
If you secretly desire a cool and well crafted comic about punks punching things – perhaps to fulfill some lost or unlost teenage angst – then snap this up. But if your younger sibling or offspring get hold of it, it’s possible that they will instantly burn down your house and start worshipping goats.