Tomasz Samojlik is an author of cartoons and books for children. He's created characters like Pompik the bison and Dobrzyk shrew. He was born in 1978 in Hajnówka. He has a PhD in biology and works at the Mammal Biology Department of the Polish Science Academy in Białowieża. He’s interested in natural history, especially the impact of man on Białowieża Forest.
An author of cartoons and books for children.
He made his debut as a comic book creator in 1994 in Podlasie press with a series of cartoon strips – W balona / Pull Your Leg. In 2003 he truly became a part of the comic book milieu due to his satirical album Wiedźmun. Dwie wieże funduszu emerytalnego / The Wutcher: Two Towers of the Retirement Fund (a decade later it was published digitally as The Wutcher).
He became famous thanks to his educational comics, which popularize science and knowledge of nature and its history. Samojlik’s main characters are a Polish bison and a shrew – the biggest and the smallest mammals in Poland. Ostatni żubr / The Last Bison (three editions, one of which is in colour) is about how bisons disappeared from Białowieża Forest after World War I. It was also published in English. The series Saga o ryjówce / The Shrew Saga talks about the adventures of this small mammal.
Three albums have been published so far: Ryjówka przeznaczenia / The Shrew of Destiny, Norka zagłady / The Mink of Extinction and Powrót rzęsorka / The Return of the Neomys. The fourth one, entitled Zima ryjówek / Shrews’ Winter will be out soon. Samojlik writes about different topics connected to the forest life, like illegal dumpsites, the animals’ coexistence, invasive species and fire. He also wrote the album Bartnik Ignat i skarb puszczy, a sensational story set in the times of the partitions of Poland, which talks about friendship, responsibility and the history of bee-keeping. The album was published in Great Britain under the title Forest Beekeeper and the Treasure of Pushcha, and in Belarus as Бoртнік Ігнат і скарб пушчы.
He publishes his short stories in Echa leśne (Echoes from the Forest) and Biceps. He also creates comic books for the Institute of Mammal Biology – humorous cartoons, summarizing the newest scientific articles or commenting on present research. In 2011 a selection of these was published as Żubr Żorż / Żorż the Bison.
Samojlik is one of the most popular creators of comic books for children. He can be also called a harbinger of the renaissance of Polish cartoons after 1989. He was the only one who consistently wrote for children, creating his own, cohesive and wide universe and distinct characters.
He sketches in an unrealistic way, which can be seen as a part of the tradition of illustration for children. His earlier works were drawn with more subtle contours. In the newest ones the author decided on thicker and more casual strokes, which made his drawings more dynamic, but at the same time – a little overwhelming.
Samojlik does not moralize nor force education. What’s most important for him, is telling an interesting story. Only after he has the right narrative frame, does he enrich it with historical facts. That is why his comic books are not boring and don’t overwhelm with facts from textbook. The dynamism and suspense are a result of presenting events which reveal the characters’ behaviors and attitudes. Readers aren't told what’s right and what’s wrong, but can decide for themselves.
Samojlik is also an illustrator and author of childrens’ books. He wrote the book Wilk Ambaras / Embarrass the Wolf, in which he demythologizes the predator’s bad reputation. He published five books: four about Pompik the bison (each of them talks about a different season) and one about the adventures of the small otter Salwinka Nauczę cię pływać, moja wyderko / I’ll Teach You How to Swim, My Little Otter. He also authored a board game, Czy wiesz, co to za zwiesz? / Do You Know What Animal This Is? He wrote a radio play based on The Shrew of Destiny. An animation is now being created based on the book series about Pompik the bison.