One of the most in-demand artists in horror comics, Piotr Kowalski has worked for many major American publishers, as well as European ones closer to his home in Poland. He has illustrated comics for Joe Casey, Steve Niles, Ales Kot, and many others, and he’s settled into our MONSTER WORLD so well that we couldn’t imagine the series without him! His noir-inspired panel work first caught our eye during Image Comics’ run on SEX by Joe Casey, and letting his imagination run wild with our demons and sorcerers has been incredibly rewarding.
We took a dive inside his monster-filled brain to celebrate the upcoming launch of MONSTER WORLD: THE GOLDEN AGE. Unsure of whether to read the series? Start here – Kowalski will convince you!
American Gothic Press. This is your second arc of MONSTER WORLD with AGP. How would you describe the differences between this arc and the first?
Piotr Kowalski. This new arc is definitely more action-packed than the first one. There is more magic involved, more violence, more dust, more deadly energy blasts, more thunderbolts. We also concentrate more on emotional side of Hank, and how much Shirley meant to him. He is still haunted by the memory of her, still vulnerable. And he will have to deal with serious problems. In general, drawing this second series has been fun, although I enjoyed working on the first one too. There were some very cool ideas — for example, the entire idea of the monster underworld hidden from humans. I think it was one of the most interesting concepts I have ever encountered in comics.
AGP. If you had to compare MONSTER WORLD to any other title you’ve worked on recently, which one would it be, and why?
PK. I must admit that Monster World is unlike anything I have ever done. I guess what makes it stand out above other projects is its unique atmosphere. The first series threw us right into a middle of World War I, gave us the chance to visit the shady side of the film industry, and allowed us to explore the dark, underground kingdom of monsters. This second series offers something completely different — we are dealing with family drama, and the protagonists get attacked by… well, let’s not spoil the surprise!
I think what makes MONSTER WORLD strong reading is the fact that this is not a horror tale that could be easily categorized as a “zombie story” or a “ghost story” or a “werewolf story”, although all those elements are present. It’s just a horror comic… and a good one.
AGP. With your recent track record — BLOODBORNE (Titan), 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (IDW), COME INTO ME (Black Mask) — many consider you to be a “horror artist”. Do you agree, and why or why not?
PK. This is a very interesting question. Yes, I think you can call me a “horror comic artist”. Apart from the titles you mentioned, I’ve drawn comics like URBAN VAMPIRES for Glenat, DRACULA L’IMMORTEL for Casterman, MALIGNANT MAN and NIGHTBREED for Boom!, and STEAM MAN for Dark Horse… all of them horror. Horror comics have always been very popular. As a genre, it covers many artistic fields and themes: dark sci-fi, gothic horror, ghost stories, zombie stories, paranormal… even steampunk can turn into a horror story when you put a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monster into it! So when you are a freelance comic book artist seeking for new projects, a lot of scripts you get are horror.
I think many publishers associate me with horror. The entire thing is like a self-propelling machine; I get more and more horror scripts because publishers and editors know that I do mostly horror comics. And I must admit that I love it. I am a major horror nerd, so whenever I get a chance to draw blood, guts, ghosts, ghouls, mutilated bodies, severed limbs, and other repulsive things, you can be sure I will grab it! Incidentally, one of my favorite bands is Cannibal Corpse. I think that explains everything.
AGP. Who are your most prominent artistic influences?
PK. I have always been influenced by old-school comics illustrators like Virgil Finlay and Bernie Wrightson. Moebius, [Carlos] Giménez, [Grzegorz] Rosinski, and [Milo] Manara have influenced my style as well. I remember when I was a kid, my cousin gave me his huge collection of Heavy Metal and Star Lord magazines. This particular moment changed my life. I couldn’t read the comics [in English] back then, so I spent hours admiring the art, pages, and panels.
AGP. Which do you prefer to draw : humans or monsters? Why?
PK. Monsters. In general, drawing monsters is easy and always fun. You can be creative, you can invent their specific anatomy. Drawing humans is the most challenging thing in comics. And almost none of the artists I know — myself included — can do it right!
AGP. What’s your favorite monster you’ve ever designed?
PK. My first reaction was my version of Hulk. But on second thought, I would say that the monsters I drew in the beginning of my career, mostly for books and small independent European comic publishers, were my favorite ones. I could go really wild then. Right now, most monsters I draw have been designed by somebody else. BLOODBORNE characters, for example. Although I am allowed to draw those monsters in my own style, altering them slightly, it is always as far as their creators permit it.
AGP. What do you like about working with indie publishers?
PK. Hmmm, that’s a tough question. Working for smaller publishers is less stressful. That doesn’t mean it’s less demanding; it means that you are not overpowered by the label, you are not pressed so much, you are not a tiny part of a bigger machine. On the other hand, big publishers force you to maintain your discipline. They push you and often discard you because they have plenty of other creators waiting in line. And that can also be a good thing, in a way. You get motivated; you are forced to deliver your best under tremendous pressure, and this is how you gain your experience. After all, drawing comics is not supposed to only be easy and fun. In many ways it is a job, just like other jobs.
AGP. Why should people read MONSTER WORLD: THE GOLDEN AGE?
PK. Because it’s good. Period. Scripts are good, Dennis provides his coloring skills, and I try to draw it right. Our goal is to give some solid, fun reading to our audience and we know how to do our job well!
You can preorder both Issue 1 and 2 of MONSTER WORLD: THE GOLDEN AGE here!