5 in Five: Scott Kowalchuck by Shaun Daniels

Normally, I write the blurbs but I think that Scott Kowalchuck tells it best himself.  I’m not sure I could do his words justice.

I’m originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Canada), but currently live just outside of Calgary, Alberta.  When living in Saskatoon, as a kid, there really was not a lot of extracurricular activities to lose one’s self in, which is where I found comic books.  I’ve never been a big ‘book’ reader —  I mean, I read, sure, but there was something in comic books that always spoke to me more directly.  An engagement that I never found in plain, written word.  I still remember when DC Comics put out it Who’s Who series, man, I poured over those issues.  I probably never read more as a kid as when I was reading Who’s Who.  I starting copying the illustrations (I particularly remember a Wayne Boring Prankster that blew my mind), trying to learn who to draw the way those cats did.  I think that was where the initial spark was lit, and it has continued to burn ever since.

After the initial six mini-issues of Intrepids, I’m moving onto a project at Oni Press with writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, entitled Down Set Fight.  I’m incredibly excited about it.  It is so well written and crafted — I hope my visuals do it some justice.

Shaun:  Where and why did you develop your unique illustration style?

Scott Kowalchuck:  Drawing while drunk.  No, that’s not true.  When I was in college, I really keyed-in on the work that influenced me the most.  Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, David Mazzucchelli, Rich Burchett, Mike Allred, the Hernadez Bros, Darwyn Cooke, Marcos Martin, Javier Pulido, Paul Grist, those cats inspired the hell out of me.  In general, my college didn’t ‘get’ the world of comic books, and especially the fascination with comic book art, so I really had to absorb myself in my favourite illustrators work which, I guess, is where my style comes from.  I’m still not entirely sure it is as stylized or refined as it could be, but it’s a good start.

Shaun:  How much of the characters looks and designs are an extension of their personalities?

Scott Kowalchuck:  A lot, I think.  It’s important for a character’s look to help re-itterate their personality.  I mean, Doyle (the Intrepids muscle-man) is big and bulky, but not chiselled and cut — I think that became indicative of how the character was presented to the audience.  He’s soft, physically — but he’s also a softy, emotionally.  He’s supposed to be ‘warm,’ which is why I designed him the way I did.  The glasses add a certain fallibility, which I think is really endearing.

Shaun:  Why go with the retro tech look of the equipment?

Scott Kowalchuck:  Because there is an excitement in ‘retro’ that gets swallowed up in too much realism, I think.  Obviously, I could have made the kids tech look more contemporary (like video game conceptual work), but, to me, that isn’t comic books.  The medium of comic books has a visual language that was really developed and refined in the 1960s and it honestly breaks my heart that language is not used more often in contemporary books.  I hope readers of our series are struck by that nostalgia that made comic books such an incredible visual medium.

Shaun:  Why have the panels shapes mimic the action in the panel?

Scott Kowalchuck:  Page and panel layouts are an art-form all on their own.  The first issue was really me getting my feet wet.  This is my first series, and more than a little learning happened ‘on the job.’  You’ll notice as the series progresses the layouts and panelling become more confident and clear, that’s life, baby!  It’s been a real romp!  The issues keep improving, which is such an encouraging sight for me.

Shaun:  What has been the craziest mad scientist invention you’ve come up with?

Scott Kowalchuck: Hmm, I’m pretty fond of Chester’s power glove, totally my contribution.  Originally, in the script, the kids world was fuelled by a more contemporary landscape — but the plot themes were a throwback to comics of old, which really inspired me to take the visuals in the same direction.  Plus, the Cyber-Bear.  That damn bear, I thought it was quirky, and kind of funny looking, but it seems readers are more engaged by the bear than anything.  That is really encouraging!

Feedback is always welcomed at shaun@horrorhaven.com

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