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Stuart Kolakovic recommends some books.

Comics artist, muralist and skateboarder Stuart Kolakovic recommends some books...

READERSVOICE.COM: Does your commercial art work and illustration help your skills for your comics, or does it have a negative effect on it?

STUART KOLAKOVIC: It’s hard to say- it’s positive in the sense that it enable me to afford to draw comics, but negative in the sense that it gobbles up the time I should be spending making comics.

I love the illustration jobs where you are given an article or even just an outline of an article and the client needs it ASAP- no messing around. Stuff that takes longer, or for more corporate clients, usually involves a lot of compromise and waiting around to hear back from them.

I actually hated studying illustration, especially the horrible, boring briefs we’d have to complete. I honestly never thought I’d be making a living as an illustrator! Luckily, right at the end of my three year course I realised I’d have to work as an illustrator if I wanted to be able to afford to make comics, and developed a way of answering briefs in my own style without having to rely on cheesy cliches.

RV: Can you recommend about five books, whether comics, novels or anything else, and say a bit about why you liked them?

SK: Oh man- I think a lot of people are disgusted at me when they see half of the books I own have a “Richard and Judy show approved” sticker on them (to American reader’s, I think this may be the equivalent to Oprah’s book suggestions). But I don’t care what people say, I’ve read a lot of good books thank to Richard and Judy which I might never of otherwise.

I just finished reading Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – which although I found cheesy in some parts, I thought as a whole was full of great ideas. I think I’m really drawn to books that are over-brimming with ideas.

I think it might be a literary faux pas amongst under 30s to cite Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated as a great example of a book that is almost falling apart with ideas, but I think it’s an amazing story.

From a more serious “arty” point of view, Ian Sinclair’s work is mind boggling amazing, and I sometimes end up reading up a single page dozens of times simply because my brain can’t take in so many ideas in one go. I highly recommend Slow Chocolate Autopsy.

I think the poems of Charles Bukowski is the only poetry that doesn’t leave me thinking I’m stupid.

And if you should only read one comic book in your life, it should be Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth which won The Guardian’s 2001 Best Book Award (Note- the absence of the word “comic” in that award title). It is solid proof that comics don’t have to rely on the language of cinema and would change a lot of people’s views about comics- if only they’d give it a chance to read it.

RV: What was that abandoned hotel you explored that time, and what were the photos of that you found, and other things. Did you ever do a comic about this?

SK: Yeah- it was an old university project. It was when I was really hung up on the idea of comics being more than just straight forward panels on paper to tell a story.

I was more interested in avant-garde story telling and trying to be all “experimental ” with comics. Now I’m the complete opposite- I find the constraints of a single page the most exciting thing.

It was actually an abandoned pub, and I tried to physically build a crazy narrative about a down and out scientist researcher who becomes obsessed with this derelict space. Standard “let’s break the law in the name of art” student affair.

RV: Where do you live in Manchester exactly, and what’s a typical week for you?

SK: I don’t live in Manchester anymore. After I finished Kingston University last summer, I went to live there for three months and am currently living back in my home town of Rugeley whilst I start on my new book. Everyone here in the Midlands ignores the fact that it is the heavy metal capital of the world; so whilst Liverpool is enjoying rinsing The Beatles as much as possible, it seems as if Birmingham would rather hide the fact it’s responsible for Black Sabbath.

Later on in the Summer it looks like I’ll be moving once again to join some like-minded illustration tweakers in London.

A typical week involves sitting in front of my Mac Book until my eyes bleed, wrapping parcels for people who buy stuff from my online shop, chasing up clients that are overdue with payments and trying to figure out if being an illustrator is a healthy career. If I’m lucky I might find the time to take an afternoon off skating or to play a gig with my band The Duds.

RV: What kinds of projects do you think you might be working on in say ten years time?

SK: I can honestly say I have no idea. If I could be drawing comic books every day, I’d either be very happy or extremely miserable.