He was born in 1975 in Bydgoszcz, where he graduated from an artistic secondary school. He has a graphic arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. Wyrzykowski started to draw comic books in a squared paper notebook in elementary school.
Together with his friend from secondary school, Jacek Przybylski, Wyrzykowski created the zine Kontra, which was released from 1997 to 2004 (altogether, six issues were published). Fantastic short stories, such as Marionetki (editor’s translation: Puppets) which was a paraphrase of Adam and Eve’s exile from Eden, were published in the zine, alongside with works by other comic book creators from Bydgoszcz: Andrzej Janicki, Jacek Michalski, Roman Maciejewski, and Krzysztof Różański. The founders of the paper, who were ten years older than them, were their guides to the world of comic books. As Wyrzykowski recollects:
My older colleagues were an inspiration to me, they also gave me some very valuable technical advice. Grzegorz Rosiński was my master. I remember how I went to a summer camp to Jędrzejów in the 1980s, where my friend showed me The Sorceress Betrayed, the first part of the comic book Thorgal. Reading it is one of the strongest memories I have from that trip. Today, when I create comic books myself, I remember about those moments and try to draw in a way that would trigger similarly strong emotions in the reader … In comic books, it is mostly the possibility of conveying meaning by sequences of images, that appeals to me. It is amazing to be able to add a third dimension to the remaining two – the passage of time. I have always liked putting together a text and an image visually; for this reason, among others, I love posters. When I was a kid, my parents took me to a circus. A poster, resembling an old American illustration, hung in front of the entrance. It was a jungle scene: a huge snake and a black warrior are entwined; several others are trying to help the man and fight the reptile. The illustration was excellent and dynamic; it included a text in English written in a cool font – of course, I didn’t understand it, but the whole made a huge impression on me. This narrative aspect fascinated me the most, but later on I would hide it from my lecturers, as for them it was form that mattered. When I was studying, the reaction to comic books as such was, best case scenario, a lenient smile.
Wyrzykowski gained public recognition in 2004, thanks to his album Westerplatte. Załoga śmierci (Westerplatte: Crew of Death; with a script by Mariusz Wójtowicz-Podhorski). First of all, the comic book discredited the heroism of Westerplatte’s commander, Major Henryk Sucharski; instead, Captain Franciszek Dąbrowski was shown as the true defender and real hero. Secondly, the drawings meticulously depicted the historical reality of the time, as Wyrzykowski based his work not only on rich documentation, but also models (constructed specifically for that purpose) of the Schleswig-Holstein battleship, the Ju-87 B1 and B2 aircrafts, and mock-ups and dioramas of military objects at Westerplatte. Wyrzykowski worked on the comic book for nearly two years.
It was so successful that the artist was employed to create more historical comic books. Wyrzykowski drew Cena wolności (The Price of Freedom), an album about the homicide of Jerzy Popiełuszka, a famous Polish priest killed by the Communist regime (script: Maciej Jasiński); he was also one of the six creators of Solidarność – 25 lat: Nadzieja zwykłych ludzi (Solidarity – 25 years: The Hope of Ordinary People; script: Jasiński).
In 2006, his authorial comic book Idioci (Idiots) was awarded third prize during the second edition of an international contest organised by the French TV channel Arte and publishing house Glenat. This success did not, however, result in an influx of proposals on the Francophone market. This fifteen-page-long parabolic story was released in colour ten years later, in Komiks i my magazine.
From 2009 on, Wyrzykowski and the script writer Sławomir Zajączkowski co-create most of the comic books released by the Institute of National Remembrance. He is responsible for two most crucial series: Wilcze tropy (Wolf Traces), devoted to the Cursed Soldiers (so far, three albums have been released: Zygmunt, Orlik, and Młot; the fourth one, Żelazny, is almost finished) and W imieniu Polski Walczącej (In the name of Camp of Fighting Poland), which narrates the crucial events connected with the Home Army – in this cycle, Zamach na Kutscherę (The Assassination of Kutschera), Kampinos ’44 and Akcja pod Arsenałem (Operation Arsenal). Wyrzykowski also drew the comic books Korfanty, Łupaszka. 1939, and Wyzwolenie? 1945 (Liberation? 1945, script by Zajączkowski), Bitwa pod Warką w roku 1656 (Battle of Warka, 1656, script by Anna Owczarczyk and Leszek Owczarczyk) and four albums from the cycle Słynni polscy olimpijczycy (Famous Polish Olympians) – about Adam Małysz, Bogdan Went, Otylia Jędrzejczak and Zbigniew Pietrzykowski (the scripts were written by Radosław Nawrot). Wyrzykowski’s works have also been published in magazines, including Komiks Forum, Komiks i my, and Zeszyty Komiksowe. The artist’s drawings are realistic; he is appreciated mostly for his precise and effective lines, the dynamic quality of his works, and the ability to tell stories by means of images. He creates in ink and markers. The colours are created by him in an authorial technique, using blueprints; digital processing is also partially employed. He paints the covers on wood with acrylic paints.
Wyrzykowski steadily collaborates with the periodical Historia. Do rzeczy – he prepares the cover, illustrations and a comic strip (for which Zajączkowski writes the scripts). The artist occasionally creates book covers, recently for the book Mieszko Pierwszy. Chrzest i początki Polski (Mieszko I of Poland. Baptism and beginnings of Poland) by Jerzy Strzelczyk. He has also prepared illustrations for the calendars released by the Institute of National Remembrance, and illustrated the website cadillacmarszalka.pl, which is about the reconstruction of Józef Piłsudki’s limousine, at the commission of the PZU Foundation and the Central Martial Library.
He lives and works in Gdańsk. His older brother, Janusz Wyrzykowski, is a graphic artist.
Author: Łukasz Chmielewski (June 2016), translated by NS June 2016.