Mateusz Skutnik is considered to be one of the most interesting Polish creators of comic books. He is the author of the series Revolutions / Rewolucje, amongst others.
He was born in Poznań in 1976. He started drawing his first comic books when he was 8 years old. He admits that back then it seemed easy to him, but now after many years he knows that it isn’t easy at all. He studied architecture at the Gdańsk University of Technology. In 1997, during his studies, he founded the zine Vormkfasa, together with Łukasz Klimkiewicz (this name is an anagram of the pseudonyms of the founders: favour and mask) in which Skutnik published his comics. All in all, 53 issues of the magazine appeared. Skutnik’s comics started to appear in many Polish comic book zines and magazines, for example in Świat Komiksu, AQQ, KKK, Ziniol and Krakers. He also published his comics in the Slovenian magazine Stripburger and the Czech periodical Aargh! Skutnik’s authorial comic books were also published as parts of the series The Anthology of Polish Comics / Antologia polskiego komiksu (the volumes September: a Drawn War / Wrzesień: Wojna narysowana and A Man in a Test Tube / Człowiek w probówce).
The series Revolutions / Rewolucje brought him acclaim from both readers and critics. Parabola / Parabola, the first part of this series, appeared in 2004. The first five tomes of Revolutions are authored by Skutnik. In his work on the subsequent parts he was aided by various script writers (Jerzy Szyłak, Szymon Holcman). The third volume of Revolutions, Monochrome / Monochrom, was used by Skutnik as a base for creating the script and scenery for the animated film The Kinematograph / Kinematograf which was directed by Tomasz Bagiński. Revolutions is considered by many to be Poland's best comic book series.
Apart from Revolutions, the best-known comics by Skutnik are the miniseries Weremorphs / Morfołaki (script by Nikodem Skrodzki) and the series Blaki (the script for this series was created in collaboration with Karol Konwerski – the volume titled Mr Blaki / Pan Blaki was inspired by Leszek Kołakowski’s Mini-Lectures on Maxi-Issues / Mini wykłady o maksi sprawach). Skutnik is also the author of Quatrain / Tetrastych and Comics Found in the Attic / Komiksy znalezione na strychu. In addition, he drew the albums Confessions of a Currency Exchange Owner / Wyznania właściciela kantoru (script by Szyłak) and Czaki (together with Dominik Szcześniak). In 2011 Skutnik participated in the project 24h, for which he conceived and draw a new comic book in 24 hours. He created a work without a title which was published by the Regional and City Public Library in Gdańsk.
Skutnik is distinctive above all due to his style. In the series Revolutions he created his own universe which is inhabited by very characteristic anthropoids. He consistently developed this world, building multi-threaded plots. The meticulous links between them can only be noticed from the perspective of a few albums. At the same time, many of the comics were largely silent, their stories unfold chiefly within the pictorial domain. This enabled the draughtsman to create poetic, sometime oneiric plots, in which the readers have to search for clues left by the author.
Skutnik draws Revolutions with thin contour lines and uses watercolours to add colour. He builds the atmospheres and the spaces of the panels using the colour black, chiaroscuro and other colours. For the purposes of Weremorphs he limited himself to expressive, strongly deformed black lines.
I've always liked things which are ambiguous, but shown. In a comic book, one might begin the story with a word and end it with an image. In comic books the fluent shifting between the media of the message and the capacity to tell stories are very attractive – Skutnik tells culture.pl.
Skutnik’s works have been shown at exhibitions in Liege, Bologna, Brussels, Bremen, Leipzig, Barcelona, on Tenerife and also in Russia and Poland.
Skutnik is the founder and co-owner of Pastel Games, a firm specializing in the production of flash games for internet browsers. The artist designs and codes the games, and he also creates their graphics. His best-known productions are Submachine, Daymare Town and 10 Gnomes.
Skutnik at work
- Blacky. Four Of Us (Blaki. Czwórka), translation: Ewa Lipińska, Centrala 2014, London
Author: Łukasz Chmielewski, February 2014
Translated by: Marek Kępa