Grzegorz Rosiński is a Polish comic book artist famed the world over – the creator of such cult series as Thorgal, Kapitan Żbik, Szninkiel, Zemsta hrabiego Skarbka.
Grzegorz Rosiński, born on August 3rd 194, is a Polish comic book artist famed the world over.
Born on August 3rd 1941 in Stalowa Wola, Rosiński graduated from Warsaw’s Academy of the Arts. Before managing to complete his Master’s thesis in the graphic arts at Jan Marcin Szancer’s atelier, he spent a year working as a bricklayer’s assistant. He was already drawing comic books in secondary school and, later, in arts college. However, his penchant for realistic drawings wasn’t appreciated at university. Rumour has it that when he created the only painting which won his lecturers’ approval, Rosiński had his back turned towards the canvas and didn’t even look at it.
After graduating, Rosiński illustrated books, magazines, as well as postcards. 1968 was the year of his debut as a professional comic book artist: he published Diadem Tamary (Tamara’s Diadem) from the Kapitan Żbik series (Captain Żbik, based on Zbigniew Bryczkowski’s script). He ended up drawing eleven volumes within this cycle. He also drew the Pilot śmigłowca series (Helicopter Pilot, Witold Jarkowski’s script, six volumes) and Legendarna Historia Polski (The Polish Legends, Barbara Seidler’s script, three volumes).
Some of his shorter comics appeared in the Relax magazine, where he worked as an artistic director between 1976 and 1978. He resigned from the position because of continued pressure from the authorities, who pushed for ‘ideologically appropriate content’. That’s when Rosiński started to collaborate with Belgian publishers – a decision requiring his full engagement. In 1981, he settled in Switzerland for good. In fact, he is nowadays the only Polish comic book artist, who accomplished worldwide artistic and commercial success.
Rosiński’s most popular comics series is Thorgal (Jean Van Hamme and Yves Sente’s script), which tells the eponymous hero’s story – a star child, he is raised by the Vikings. The series counts 34 volumes, and new ones are still in the making. Another two related series are in print, with Rosiński as their cover designer. Comics about Thorgal have been translated into numerous languages, including Arabic, Korean, Turkish, Greek and English, and gave rise to a computer game. A Thorgal museum is planned to open in July 2014 in Delémont, on the city’s 725th founding anniversary.
(Film showing Rosiński at work on a Thorgal cover)
The artist also drew fantasy series, such as Yans (André-Paul Duchâteau’s script, six volumes) or Skarga Utraconych Ziem (Lament of the Lost Moors, Jean Dufaux’s script, four volumes). Fame and appreciation from readers and critics alike followed the publishing of his fantasy trilogy, Szninkiel (Chninkel, Jean Van Hamme’s script), filled with biblical and pop culture references, and painted comics: the Western album (Van Hamme’s script) and the Zemsta hrabiego Skarbka duology (The Revenge of Count Skarbek, Sente’s script), an interesting parody of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Rosiński’s francophone comics have also been published in Poland.
Apart from comic books, the artist also does paintings, acts, landscapes and battle scenes – the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels invited him to create a cycle of historic canvases about the Merovingian dynasty, and he designed post stamps to commemorate an episode from the Battle of the Ardennes. His paintings often relate to his comics.
Rosiński is highly valued for his mastery, his dynamic and precise realistic drawings, his visual sense and feel for telling stories through pictures. Most of his comics are drawn with a thin, black line, then filled in with colour (which he does himself). Szninkiel was originally created in black and white, only to be coloured in by the artist later. Western was the only album in which Rosiński relied on painterly techniques – this resulted in Zemsta hrabiego Skarbka, drawn only in colour and without the use of contouring. Some Thorgal volumes were completed using a similar technique: including, for example, the last covers to the series within that universe.
Rosiński has received numerous prizes for his achievements on the francophone comics market, including two Prix Saint-Michel prizes, awarded by the city of Brussels (for the 2nd and 5th volumes of Thorgal), as well as the Prix-Albert Uderzo and two audience awards at the Angoulême International Comics Festival (for the 21st volume of Thorgal and for Szninkiel), Europe’s largest festival of this kind. The Museum in Stalowa Wola, the artist’s hometown, published a catalogue and biography, entitled Grzegorz Rosiński. Mistrz ilustracji i komiksu (Grzegorz Rosiński. Master of Illustration and Comics, text by Wojciech Birek). Rosiński was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, a silver Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis and the Belgian Order of Leopold II. He lives and works in Switzerland.
Written by Łukasz Chmielewski in November 2013
Translated by: Ewa Bianka Zubek