Acclaimed as one of the most original and interesting comic book artists in Poland, he created the character Łauma and authored the eponymous comic book.
Born in 1982 in Suwałki., Kalinowski is a graduate of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, where he completed studies in artistic graphics. He began to draw comic books as in primary school, therefore an artistic high school was a natural choice for him. When he was in high school he began to publish his first drawings and comic strips in local periodicals and in the zine Koks, which he co-created.
He gained fame by collaborating with the magazine Produkt, which was then ran by Michał Śledziński. There the famous KRLs – and Such / Kaerelki – i inne takie appeared, which later were published underground. Kalinowski’s acquaintance with Śledziński led to a closer collaboration of the two. The fascicle editions of Śledziński’s The Freedom Housing Project / Osiedle Swoboda contained also comics from the series New Kids on the Block. Kalinowski’s comics were also published in anthologies, for instance in A Man in a Test Tube / Człowiek w probówce and In Neighbouring Frames. Poles and Czechs about Each Other in Comics / W sąsiednich kadrach. Polacy i Czesi o sobie w komiksie. His picture stories also appeared in the zines Jeju and Karton.
Kalinowski is the author of the humorous two-volume story The League of the Defenders of Planet Earth / Liga Obrońców Planety Ziemi which reinvents traditional superheroes. He also has under his belt the authorial albums Yoel: The Holy Dragon and George / Yoel: Święty Smok i Jerzy and Łauma. In 2011 Sketchbook. Karol Kalinowski / Szkicownik. Karol Kalinowski appeared – an art book with commentaries by the artist himself. He usually signs his works with the abbreviation KRL. Under the pseudonym Max Atlanta he published the album La Masakra. Presently he is working on a comic book for which Rafał Skarżycki wrote the script, since Kalinowski also co-creates the characters of George the Hedgehog / Jeż Jerzy.
The comic book Łauma brought Kalinowski brought to the limelight. This album tells about a family that moved to the countryside. Little Dorothy finds out that her grandmother was a witch. In the woods various horrors lurk, but also a riddle waits, on the solving of which the fate of the world depends. Kalinowski set the action in the world of the legends of the Yotvingians. The story is meant for younger readers. The Polish Comics Association deemed the album the best comic book of 2009. The same year Łauma was the Regional and Municipal Public Library in Gdańsk’s most often lent book. In 2010 this comic book was awarded the audience award for best comic book at the International Festival of Comics in Łódź. The theatrical play for children Łauma – a Fairy Tale too Scary for Grown-Ups / Łauma – bajka zbyt straszna dla dorosłych which is based on this comic book, is being staged at the Warsaw Studio Theatre. Work on the film version of Łauma is currently under way. The design of a mural showing the characters of Łauma won an internet users’ competition organized by the municipal authorities of Suwałki. The first chapter of this comic book may be read online.
I noticed, like most creators of comic books do, that it is appealing that I, on my own, without great funds, or actually without any funds at all, can create whole worlds – still films with all the variations I can imagine. This truly is an attractive vision that doesn’t lose its power over time and perhaps this vision is what inclines me to draw. I don’t see any kind of flaw in this medium. I can only be deplore that so few people appreciate it – explains Karol Kalinowski.
The artist is valued chiefly for his original lines, great comic book technique and sense of humour. His works are easily remembered. Their style is so unique that even La Masakra, which was drawn under a pseudonym and with different lines than the earlier works, revealed the author’s identity. “I published this album under a pseudonym, because this album is meant for adult readers and I wanted to spare my youngest readers troubling moments should they decide to read anything else by the author of Łauma” – admits Kalinowski. The creator draws in various styles, making use of the cartoon style more often than he does of realistic conventions. He draws comic books on A4 paper with various markers and pens, whereas he makes illustrations on A3 paper with a paintbrush and ink.
Kalinowski also deals with book illustrations and animations for television and music videos. At the 2005 Euroshorts festival he received a distinction for the short animated film Berek. Occasionally he runs comic book workshops for both children and grown-ups. He also creates drawings and satirical comic strips. He is a country music and 8-bit electro aficionado. He plays the guitar and the harp. Lately he fell in love with the ukulele. He played with various bands for years, recently he has been playing with The Calmars. When he’s not drawing or playing he devotes his time to other passions. He loves knives and even forged a couple of them himself. He also likes bad movies and games for Pegasus. He admits that if had a lot of money he would be buying Lego bricks.
His works were shown at exhibitions in Prague, Wrocław, Jelenia Góra, Bremen, Leipzig, Brussels, Warsaw and Moscow. Karol Kalinowski lives and creates in Olsztyn, where he also works as a librarian.
Author: Łukasz Chmielewski (July 2014)
Translated by: Marek Kępa