karl slominski

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The Bryan Ferry of Comics, Karl Slominski has made comics through indie publisher 215ink which includes Golgotha and his upcoming for later 2016 Teeter Topple. He made the decision to leave work-for-hire comics to focus on telling his own stories. Teeter Topple is his most personal work ever. Karl shared thoughts on expressing such personal and autobiographical plots and visuals through comics.

Teeter Topple includes Mark’s job loss, having to move back with his parents, his girlfriend breaking up with him, and then his mental health deteriorating. There’s also a bigger emotional event that I won’t spoil here.

“But you have to understand, that sometimes, especially if you’re getting too close to project, maybe you need time to decompress from it – maybe to distance yourself a little bit especially if it’s personal to you.” ~Karl Slominski

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Karl has no ambitions to break into mainstream comics like working for Marvel or DC. He has stories that he wants to tell and you can hear in his own words, how important it is for him to be authentic in his craft rather than churn out product that he doesn’t love.

“The stuff that the main character Mark deals with are very much rooted in moments of my past, but like I’ve never had a complete mental breakdown where I’ve gone into parallel worlds where I’ve talked to comic book characters or puppets from a TV show.” ~Karl Slominski

We also discussed his process quite a bit. His panels and pages have some extraordinary details and each character looks unique. Sorry, superhero fans, but this is the kind of art where each figure isn’t only different because of outfit or because of hair color which is so often the style of large corporate properties.

As for environments like buildings and cityscapes, it’s the sort of thing that Karl loves to delve into. He had that opportunity in Ashes which was a project with writer Mario Candelaria. However, don’t ask him to draw horses. Give him all the buildings and bridges possible.

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Karl loves to choose his colors with specific purpose. He produces somber, self-absorbed and sad protagonists with philosopher best friends in black and white with spectacular inks; then he drops a bomb of sorts on Mark and he’s dropped into the middle of this colorful illusion with a primary color palette.

“I feel like the term ‘healthy brain’ is kind of a thing of the past because what we’re realizing as people collectively, as humanity, is that there really is no such thing as a healthy brain. It’s just different levels of acceptance. Understanding where your thoughts come from. Understanding where your emotions come from. And how you comprehend those. We’re finer tuning these things. It’s not so black and white.” ~Karl Slominski

We have moments of social discussion regarding the right to use a bathroom of your gender identity to urban sprawl and loss of wildlife habitat.

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Back on the discussion of mental health and the character Mark, Karl wrote in a powerful moment where the character can’t stand people asking if he’s okay. What do people mean when they ask if you’re okay? Do they want to know? If you say yes, will they understand you mean no?

“There’s not a lot of actual making of stuff, but a lot of talking about stuff. I’m not a fan of that. I think you should just shut up and make stuff.” ~Karl Slominski

The imaginary friends – the hallucinations – have a positive spin, “you’re never alone when you’re out of your mind”. That’s a part of human history where people with such conditions are usually locked up or medicated away from the imaginary friends that keep them company – and any positive aspect of it is missed.


Karl is turned off from comic conventions though loves the presence of indie press conventions like MICE and MOCCA. The quality of artists’ alleys in large conventions can be argued to have gone down since there are challenges such as the cost of the show and the debate whether print/fan artists (artists who haven’t worked on the comics) degrade the offerings of the industry. There’s an issue regarding the rights to the characters being offered, for one thing. It’s overlooked easily when an artist has done work for the corporations before. If it’s commissioned original art, it’s allowed under fair use, but many artists today are all digital so there is no original. Other artists who have worked in the corporations, have backed away and will only have their creator-owned products at their tables now.


Twitter @kidreverie

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