Q&A: K.J. Kolka
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS/CREATORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
As a child, it was probably writers Lee Falk (The Phantom); V.T. Hamlin & Dave Grawe (Alley Oop); Stan Lee; Roy Thomas; Gerry Conway; artists Don Newton; Ray Moore; Herb Trimpe; Kurt Schaffenberger; Joe Simon & Jack Kirby. These people continue to inspire me today also.
As an adult, especially since my thirties, it has been Ralph McInerny (the Father Dowling mysteries); Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Agatha Christie; Clint Kelly (Reg Danson adventure series); Frank E. Peretti; Michael Yaconelli; Ernest Hemingway; Charles Biro (the '40s Daredevil); Chester Gould (Dick Tracy); Tom Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean); Greg Evans (Luann); Woody Wilson (Judge Parker); and Mary Schmich (Brenda Starr, Reporter).
YOU ARE IN THE UNIQUE POSITION OF BEING NOT JUST A WRITER BUT ALSO A PENCILER AND – PRESUMABLY - INKER, LETTERER AND COLORIST … WHICH PARTS OF THE PROCESS COME EASIEST FOR YOU? MOST DIFFICULT? DO THE DIFFERENT FACETS OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS AFFECT YOUR NARRATIVE, OR ARE THEY JUST WINDOW DRESSING FOR THE STORY?
I am first and foremost a literature person (that's what I majored in in college). Few things are more satisfying than a good story and good characters, whether it is written, illustrated or told. This is also true when it comes to comics.
Writing/plotting come easiest for me. Love to tell the story and get inside character's heads. I also love art, but my background is in fine arts rather than graphic arts. I developed a talent for creating portraits and caricatures as a kid when I was laid up in a hospital with Crohn's disease for much of sixth-grade. Comic art is something I have taught myself and am still striving to master.
Coloring is one aspect I have just learned over the past few years. Having worked with watercolor and oil paints when I was younger, I really enjoy coloring the strip on the computer. It can really add to the atmosphere of the story.
It's a strange position being both writer and illustrator. Some scenes, where there's more dialogue to move the story along, my concentration is on the writing as I plan out the panels. Other times there is more action and I look at the panels in terms of the art as the stronger influence.
WHEN YOU READ REVIEWS AND COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR COMIC, DO THEY EVER MAKE YOU RETHINK HOW YOU APPROACH THE NEXT STORY?
Oh, yeah. Being a writer and artist are ongoing learning processes. I will never be finished learning. I have a friend from high school who likes to look at my work and critique it. I hear from him after every story.
WHAT ASPECT OF GOD DO YOU MOST HOPE READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
Jesus spent much of his time with the outcasts of society and those who were struggling. I've tried to take a lesson from that. If I could sum up a certain aspect of God I'd like readers to come away with, it would be He loves you where you're at right now and that our lives are part of a bigger story of God's design -- the story of redemption. We are all characters who He has allowed to play a part in an epic adventure spanning centuries.
I tend to be more of a sensitive, compassionate type of person. In my stories, I try to capture those moments where our lives are changed by struggle. That's not just for the minor characters. The Cardinal also has inner conflicts in his adventures. Life is full of struggle and we need a powerful but caring God to be our anchor.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?
I work at a small town newspaper doing editing, photo processing and web uploads. My wife Diane and I will be married 20 years in 2012. We have a teenage daughter and a dog. As a group, we enjoying traveling, reading and working on projects together. Personally, I like reading mysteries, researching history, walks through the woods, bike riding, watching NCIS and just being creative.
ANY NEW PROJECTS YOU ARE WORKING ON?
The Cardinal will be appearing in his own trade paperback later this year, tentatively called The Cardinal Collection. It will celebrate 21-plus years of continuous adventures. Lamp Post Inc. will be handling the publishing.