Miscellanea and Ephemeron
10/06/2008 Archived Entry: "J LHLS interview with Karl Christian Krumpholz"
J LHLS interview with Karl Christian Krumpholz
Interview by Ginger Mayerson
Karl Christian Krumpholz took a little time out from his glamorous fast-paced life, which includes comics, illustration, and the ongoing sequential saga of the most fabulous Byron, to give J LHLS this interview. We bow down to Karl. He's so cool, I got frostbite just working on this interview.
Karl Christian Krumpholz: Thanks a lot. I'm getting a lot of good response from the portraits. I haven't really thought about compiling a book of them as yet. There are only 34 portraits at the moment and I would like to create several more series, other then famous drunks, before I think about a book. I did want to do a series of famous horror icons (Christopher Lee, Vincent Prince, etc), crime authors (Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, etc), and early blues and rock musicians (Son House, Charlie Patton, Elvis, etc.) The drunken portraits used an extra blue color, so each of the other series would be done in a different color. So, there is a bit of a way to go before I start thinking about a book.
GM: What are you doing for fun these days?
KCK: Not much since I'm chained to my drawing table most of the time, though there is always the local bar or pub down the street. I'm a little surprised that there is little to do here in Denver. Sure there are always the Rocky Mountains looming in the distance if you are into the hiking, skiing, or Rocky Mountain High sort of thing, but I've never really been as nature tends to give me rabies. I just like the concrete-kind of ground that can split your head open with one wrong step.
GM: What are you doing that's not so much fun?
KCK: Aside from being chained to a drawing table? Well, deadlines are never much fun, especially when they are whistling past your ears. Looking for other freelance work is not that much fun either. However, it's all a necessary evil that must be dealt with until some rich heiress showers me with money.
GM: Ah, wouldn't we all love to have some rich heiress shower us with money. I'd settle for being showed with gift certificates and cashiers checks. What are you reading? Comics and other?
KCK: Well, I'm usually reading a non-fiction book along with the fiction book at any given time. I just finished a history of absinthe and am now working on a history of the exotica/tiki culture of the 50s and early 60s. On the novel front, I'm burning through a crime novel phase. Reading Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson, and Raymond Chandler, most for the first time. I'm enjoying Chandler the most. Sure there are a lot of others, but with his books you really get to see where all the crime novel stereotypes and clichés come from.
Comic wise, I've cut down quite a bit, but I still pretty much read everything that Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison put out. I just picked up the first of the Dark Horse Creepy archives that I'm enjoying a lot.
GM: How long have you been doing comics?
KCK: For about ten years, though I have only really gotten really serious about it over the last three years or so. Over those ten years, I've lived in three cities, each of which added their own flavor to my books. I started out doing mini-comics like Angst Boy Comics, Sturm und Drang, and Schadenfreude, but moved on to full-on GN and webcomics when SLG Publishing picked up Byron some time ago.
GM: How did you decide that comics were something you wanted to do?
KCK: Well, I've always drawn quite a bit and also spent some time tolling in the comic book mines of the local comic book store (back in Philadelphia). The first issue of Angst Boy Comics started out as a dare from another cartoonist at the time. I did it and just kept on going. It was around the fifth or sixth issue that I really started getting into it, telling stories, rather then just venting about my own life. That was around the time same time I started on the Byron idea.
GM: Did you go to art school?
KCK: Not really. I did take quite a few classes back at the university, but aside from basic illustration and such, all my art classes were mostly centered on photography.
GM: Did it help?
KCK: No, not really, aside for a small glimmer on how a panel should be set up. Setting up a frame when taking a photo and imagining what a comic panel should look like are somewhat similar. However, I got a lot more help on the comic front from other comic artists. As I mentioned, I used to work at the comic shop with a former illustrator for DC comics. He helped me through a lot of my awkward starting pages in an effort to become a better storyteller.
GM: What in your background has been most important to you as an artist?
KCK: Well, I think a big thing that wormed its way into my brain at a young age was the fact that my uncle was a fine artist, a painter. His studio was always a great place to visit, with paints and sketches all over the place. I also remember going to a lot of his gallery shows around Philadelphia when I was young, which was impressive since most of my uncle's pieces were quite large. There was also my mother and aunt taking me to the art museums every Sunday as a kid. So, when I started doodling and doing my own thing, my family was quite supportive. I think that they were simply happy that I shared something with the family other then basic looks and genetics.
GM: What have been the biggest positive influences on you as an artist?
KCK: I've mentioned it before, but I always loved the fact that I've found myself surrounded by artists that I can talk and relate to. There were a lot of other artists in college as well as plenty of cartoonists (pro or otherwise) hanging around the comic shop. There was also small art scene in Philly, though I always found it odd that there was not much of one in Boston while I lived there (though there was a large music scene.) However, I've found myself in a growing art scene here in Denver, where I've had pieces in seven or eight shows over the past year.
GM: What are the biggest negative influences on your art?
KCK: I guess it would have to be the indifference in the response at times, specifically the comic. Now, all of us live in a multimedia age and there is so much aimed at you through advertising, TV, radio, internet, and what not. It can be kind of hard to get through all that and get people to pay attention to your little book (or art work, or band, for that matter.) You have to keep jumping up and down while waving the book in the air to get anyone to pay attention. Then the job is to keep their attention. Because of this, I sometimes feel like a circus clown at conventions. Look at me! Look at me!! I've got a book!!!! I may need a false red nose, though.
GM: What were the first comics you drew about?
KCK: When I was young, I remember doing a comic about a bunch of Halloween creatures. I don't think it ever had a title. They were all just characters I like to draw. One character was a pumpkin-headed creature, another was a corpse in a clown outfit, and such. They got into adventures while doing cruel things to children. Good times.
GM: What were the first comics you self-published about?
KCK: Well, as I mentioned above, Angst Boy Comics was basically me just venting to the world about things going on in my life. Sturm und Drang was more idiotic artwork, making fun of arty pretension, and trying to do quick 24 hour comics at the same time. Both of those were pretty much the first books that I put together and sold.
GM: You're kind of a Kinkos god, aren't you?
KCK: Funny enough, I was actually there today to talk to some people about prints. I'm not there as much as I used to be several years ago, trying to find ways on getting cheap scans and copies. It could become pretty disturbing dealing with the employees at times. They do weird things with toner in the back rooms that shouldn't be discussed under the light of day.
GM: What were the first comics that people noticed?
KCK: Well, I got a lot of notice with Angst Boy in the Philly area originally. However, whenever I did shows in other states (like APE, SPX, or MOCCA), people generally focused, strangely enough, on Sturm und Drang a hell of a lot more. I could never really explain why, since the Sturm und Drang comics were nonsense, sort of if Ingmar Bergman gave it all up to draw funny pictures. I have a more of a feeling it was because the format of the comic (small with a color toned cover) was seen as 'cute'
GM: I never really understood Sturm und Drang,but it was cute. I really liked Angst Boy. I love the Invading Weasel comic shop girls. Surly and whatever her name was...Perky? Pixie? Can't remember, oh well. I'm afraid to dig my copies out because I won't do anything but read them for the rest of the day and I have things to do. What was the inspiration for the Angst Boy comics? Do you actually know people like this?
KCK: It was Perky. Yes, I did know people exactly like that, though I will admit that I exaggerated them all somewhat. Invading Weasel was the stand in for the shop I worked at the time. All the characters there were slightly based on people I either worked with or knew. Some were flattered, others not so much. Angst was pretty much 'me' at the time, just much much more brooding and angsty.
GM: I've been a big fan of Byron ever since you gave me a review copy of Schadenfreude at APE 2004. Thank you again for all that. The Bryon of that book is such a sad little character, so pathetic, almost a gothy Little Tramp emo boy. I'm glad to see he's snapped out of that in later books. Byron is introduced in Angst Boy, I seem to recall Angst Boy throws up on him. How did such an incidental character like Byron get his own book?
KCK: Byron was created as an utter gothy prat to mock in the pages of Angst Boy Comics. He was exactly like Angst, but with few social skills and takes the whole scene much too seriously. But being that, he was such fun to write. Angst, as a character, didn't really do that much, but brood. At least Byron could go out there to be seen. By using him, I could poke fun at the whole scene through him.
Now, when I was shopping around Angst Boy Comics to publishers, most liked the writing and the art, but hated the subject. Looking back, I don't blame them as a lot of it was just venting. So, I started thinking up an idea that moved beyond Angst. Byron was right there, like a prima donna, begging to be used. I thought it was a pretty good idea to take this shallow pedantic character and grow him up. Take him beyond the scene and out into the weird world around him. That was the start of the Mad, Bad, and Dangerous GN. In it he discovers the world is not really what he thought it was. In the new series (Die, Byron! Die!), he's on the road, looking for his brother, and coming to discover that his actual life really isn't what he thought it was.
GM: Congratulations again on the deal with SLG publishing. That book trailer for Byron is so cool I get frostbite just looking at it. What's SLG got in store for you and old Byron next?
KCK: Well, the first Byron GN came out at the end of 2007. As I mentioned, I'm currently working on the new series (Die, Byron! Die!), which will hopefully be released as a GN sometime next year. However, you can read each chapter of the current series now as a webcomic on SLG Publishing's website (http://www.slgcomic.com/Byron_ep_60-1.html). Chapters #1-3 are available as PDF downloads (http://www.slgcomic.com/Byron_c_107-1.html), while the current chapter (#4) can be viewed for free. A couple pages are uploaded each week. Not only that, but they are in color (well, two color: black and blue.)
GM: You're working on a new comic project with Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin) called "Hell High." What's new with that project?
KCK: That project is still in the development stage. Both Ted and I are writing it, while I'm also illustrating it. Ted and I made up a mini comic preview for San Diego Comic Con this past year to pitch to several companies with some good response. This is a project I'm looking forward to working on once the current Byron story is completed. Hell High is the story of Zak, the son of Satan. He has just been enrolled in Hell's most elite school, The Infernal Academy, in order to become the most evil being in existence and his father's heir. The problem is that Zak isn't really interested in any of that.
GM: Are there any other new projects you're working on you can tell us about? I realize there are only so many hours in the day, and you have to sleep sometimes, but you get a lot of art out of every hour.
KCK: Aside from the comic, as I mentioned before, I'm getting a lot of feedback from the Drunken portraits and will likely do more of them. Everyone who approaches me about them has suggestions on people I missed or should illustrate next.
Aside from that, I'm still doing some freelance work for Modern Drunkard Magazine, illustrating the Heroes of Hooching article. I'm pretty sure the next one will be about Jackie Gleason.
Then, there are a couple other freelance jobs that I get contacted about. Logo design and such.
GM: Are you going to APE this year?
KCK: Yeah, I'm planning on it. Haven't booked my plane tickets yet, but I'm planning on being out there. I do like doing conventions, throwing off the chains of the drawing table to meet and talk to other artists. Creating comics is such a solitary task that it's good to every once in a while to touch base with others sharing the same experience just to keep you grounded. It's like peering every once in awhile out of your hole, see the light of day, and amaze that the big ball of fire is still in the sky.
GM: Thank you, Karl, for so graciously submitting to this interview. I know you're a busy guy, so thanks!
The BEST Comic Book Trailer Ever:
Karl Christian Krumpholz comics reviewed at J LHLS:
Schadenfreude! (review by Kathy LaFollett)
Schadenfreude! (more of a meditation on...somethng by Yours Truly)
An I Read Comics podcast that talks about Schadenfreude! among other things:
The Wapshott Press
Ontology on the go!
"Ontology on the Go!"
J LHLS mugs
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