The first Pole to work for some major U.S. American publishing houses and draw adventures of cult superheroes: Spawn, Green Lantern, and Batman. In spite of the commercial success, Szymon Kudrański has been pursuing a personal approach to graphic novels.
Even before he started to talk and write, he was watching American comic strips, and tried to re-draw them in his own style. Eventually, this medium became his favourite form of artistic expression, which he describes as a perfect communion between image and text.
Szymon Kudrański, born 1987 in Tarnów, did not have an easy start to his career. At the age of 17 he began sending his works to Polish comic book publishers. He would either be ignored, or convinced that his style was not appropriate for the medium. The very same portfolio later found its way into the hands of Steve Niles, the writer of the famous series 30 Days of Night, who immediately invited Kudrański to draw an excerpt for the cycle.
Killer at Hell’s Service
After the publication with Niles, Kudrański was flooded by propositions; he drew Zombie Cop (written by Jeff Mariotte), Farmhouse (by Elizabeth J Musgrave) – a graphic novel in the form of online comic book, which was al so published on paper and as an application for Android and iOS. Two tales by Kudrański: Repulse and Love or Obsession, have been featured in the anthology Asylum of Horrors. He also illustrates comic book covers.
His career gained pace in 2012, when he was invited to draw the series Spawn, created by Todd McFarlane. He had a guest appearance in the 200th issue of the cycle, and from the next issue on had become its permanent artist. The series tells a story of an American commando, who is murdered by his superiors during a military action. The soldier signs a contract with devil, which is to allow him to see his wife one more time, and returns to Earth as Spawn, a murderer at hell’s disposal.
That event marked the beginning of Kudrański’s collaboration with the largest comic book publishers in USA, and opened up a possibility for him to work for the biggest and most talked about series in the history of the genre. He was asked to draw Batman – which made him the first Pole to be involved in creating the adventures of such widely recognized comic book figure.
His drawings appeared in e.g.: Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, Batman: Streets of Gotham , and Batman. Detective Comics. Batman. Faces of Death, w ith Kudrański’s guest feature Russian Roulette is the artist’s only release in Poland so far. In 2013 Kudrański also became one of the cartoonists for the celebrated series Green Lantern, telling the story of intergalactic watchmen, who use a an extremely powerful ring as their attribute. These two series are on the top of the American comic book sales rating list.
What Hides in the Dark
Kudrański has gone from being an author of independent comic strips to a professional, who draws the most popular and recognized series. At the same time he has preserved his own style and individual approach to comic books, which allows him to stand out in front of many other productions. Kudrański employs realistic style, however his drawings are full of ambiguity and anxiety. Their obscurity is enhanced by his application of subtle, dark colours. The cartoonist uses a lot of black colour, and, by skilfully introducing chiaroscuro and contrast, he manages to obtain scenes full of emotion and fear before that which can be found in the dark. His works give the impression that there is something frightening behind them; that they conceal a threatening mystery, which is about to tear the paper apart and suck up the terrified reader.
In effect, we can observe exceptional and memorable drawings – a rarity in the American comic book industry. The fact that Kudrański has illustrated a number of horror books is also not a coincidence. In fact, he was selected to refresh Spawn’s image thanks to his style. His vision of this hero has met with positive reception, and Kudrański has already created over 20 comic books about Spawn. Writer and cartoonist Tony S. Daniel, which is now one of the top creators of Batman, is also among the enthusiasts of Kudrański’s dark style.
Even though his works appear mainly abroad, Kudrański lives and works in Poland. He maintains a personal blog, where we can find fragments of his works: http://szymonkudranski.blogspot.com/.
Author: Łukasz Chmielewski
Translation: Anna Micińska