Q&A: Aaron Krolikowski, West Philadelphia Cartoonist
Most sibling rivalries maintain a fair share of feats of strength, practical jokes and competitive games.
During Aaron Krolikowski's childhood, he battled his brothers with a pen and paper.
"I wanted to make better comics than my brothers," says Krolikowski, now a West Philadelphia-based cartoonist. "I wanted to tell strange stories. I just kept at it constantly."
Krolikowski's serial cartoon "Mayor of Wissahickon Creek
" might seem strange -- following the mayoral campaign among mostly friendly animals in the Wissahickon Valley -- it is pure politics. "Game Change meets Wind in the Willows," is how Krolikowski has grown used to describing the cartoon, which has appeared in Flying Kite weekly since June.
Krolikowski is planning a series of events the week leading up to the November general election that will include live debates featuring characters from the cartoon. Krolikowski is recruiting actors, venues and musicians for the events, which commence the end of next month. One event is slated for the new event space at Locust Moon Comics
(featured in this week's Flying Kite
We talked to Krolikowski about his work and about the comic scene in Philadelphia.
Flying Kite (FK): When did you first start making cartoons and what were they like?
Aaron Krolikowski (AK): My first real original comic character was named O.M.T. and he lived in a car junk yard with his best friend Mike Chewy. They got in trouble all the time goofing around in a town called Goonersburg.
FK: Has any cartoons or cartoonists inspired you?
AK: Greatest cartoonist of all time has to be Sergio Aragones. I wanted to draw comics as fast and as good as him one day. I will never be that good. A cartoonist that has inspired me as an adult would Ben Katchor. The poet of comics.
FK: What's the Philly cartoonist scene like?
AK: Small. Like everything here I guess. It’s pretty cool though. Good comic shops. The best way to meet cartoonists around Philly is to go to comix jam. They meet once a month and you draw comics together. Most everyone is really nice and it’s a good time.
FK: As far as comic shops in Philly, which ones do you like the most?
AK :The best ones are Locust Moon, Fat Jacks and Atomic City. They are all really nice and they have my free minis that I put out every month. Look for the little top hat and you can find them.
FK: Where did the idea for Mayor of Wissahickon come from?
AK: I re-read Wind in the Willows and then got caught up in Obama’s first run for the presidency. I thought it would be cool to combine those ideas into something exciting and nostalgic.
FK: Your favorite Mayor character?
FK: How do you think Mayor relates to the current presidential campaign?
AK: How dirty all of it makes everyone. At the end of the campaign you just feel like no one running for office has a soul left. Our democracy is for sale and I’m too poor to even afford the expired bread.
I like the duck the best.
FK: What was your biggest obstacle in completing Mayor, and how long did it take?
AK: Doing the colors. It’s water color. Lots and lots of painting. That takes forever. Getting much faster at it though. Or at least I’d like to think so. It took me about three years to finish. But there were a lot of distractions going on in my life while I was working on it. I say it would take a year if I got to work on it every week. During the whole process I had an editor help me shape the story. Matt Bogart. The story would not be half as good without him.
FK: What are some things that might strengthen or grow Philly's cartoonist community?
AK: The weekly papers could start publishing big beautiful cartoons online or in print. Or the dailys. City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly have basically no cartoons. Other local websites should start carrying people’s work.
FK: With print dying a slow death, how are cartoonists getting published and getting paid?
AK: Online following. You have to build your own audience. Self syndication. You have to just put out great cartoons on a weekly or daily basis. I think all the interesting cartooning is happening online. You can really experimental with the medium. For an alternative cartoonists getting your start is really going to be your comics online. People still love buying physical comic books though. That will be around a lot longer than a printed newspaper.
FK: In addition to promoting Mayor, what's next for you?
AK: I’m thinking on my next serialized comic strip. Something completely different -- a super hero story.
JOE PETRUCCI is managing editor of Flying Kite. Send feedback here.