'Milkymen i Mućka'.

Sławomir Kiełbus is a Polish comic artist, working in a variety of styles and genres for the press (Angora, SuperEkspress), comic magazines (Krakers) and publishing houses (Mandragora). Since the 1990s, he is a longtime contributor to the Polish news weekly Angora, creating political comic strips as well as humorous children's comics like 'Gwidon', 'Torfiak', 'Milkymen i Mućka' (2000-2002) and 'Wieśmin'. With writer Ewa Karska, he has created educational comic books about sewage treatment, the ecology and Poland's national history. Using a more realistic drawing style, Kiełbus has drawn installments in the historical series 'Strażnicy Orlego Pióra' (2005-2006), about Polish rulers, and 'Słynni Polscy Olimpijczycy' (2008), about famous Polish Olympians. Since 2016, Kiełbus is the creator of new adventures by the classic Polish comic book heroes 'Kajko and Kokosz' with writer Maciej Kur.

Early life
Sławomir Kiełbus was born in 1969 in Strzelin, a town in South West Poland, about 24 miles south of the city of Wrocław. Around the age of eight, he became fascinated with comics by reading the comic magazine Relax. He grew particularly fond of the local comic creators Henryk Chmielewski, Szarlota Pawel, Janusz Christa, Jerzy Wroblewski and Tadeusz Baranowski, learning their stories by heart, redrawing their comic panels and making up his own stories. Even though he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering, he eventually chose an artistic career path. First, he ran his own company that created signboards. Then, in the early 1990s, he made many educational drawings for children commissioned by a printing house in Płock.


'Gwidon'.

Angora
In 1996, Kiełbus headed for the city of Łódź in central Poland, where he began his fruitful association with the weekly press review Angora, a magazine printing a selection of articles from Polish and international news media, but also articles of its own. Starting out as graphic designer, he eventually became the magazine's editorial cartoonist, commenting on social and political events. He truly hit his mark as a comic creator in the magazine's youth supplement Angorka. Over the years, Kiełbus created several notable characters, of which Gwidon has been the most enduring. Clearly inspired by André Franquin's 'Gaston Lagaffe', 'Gwidon' is a gag strip about a lazy boy "suffering" the typical torments of teenagers, ranging from school homework, his first crush and taking care of his dog Fuks. In 2003, Angora's publishing house Westa-druk released a book collection with a selection of 'Gwidon' gags.

Another young kid character created by Sławomir Kiełbus for Angora was 'Torfiak', whose adventures feature talking animals, fairy tale characters and other magical elements. His short story feature 'Milkymen i Mućka' (2000-2002) was a hilarious parody of American superheroes. Instead of a muscled hero in spandex, Milkymen is a chubby vigilante with a tiny cape, who has a caped cow as a sidekick. To fight his opponents, Milkyman uses a huge rifle loaded with milk. Both Milkymen and Mućka are still learning their trade, often causing more problems than they solve. Another parody feature by Kiełbus was 'Wieśmin', a comic spoof of the fantasy novel series 'The Witcher' by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.


Comic story for Salamandra magazine.

Further magazine work
Besides Angora, Kiełbus also published in other magazines. The comic magazine Krakers, for instance, ran his gag strip 'Ignac', about an average Polish family. His current affairs strips and cartoons also appear in Super Express, a tabloid newspaper from Warsaw. Since 2010, he works with scriptwriter Maciej Kur on funny comic stories of an educational nature for Salamandra, a bi-annual popular science magazine about nature.


Satirical comic strip by Slawomir Kielbus.

Educational comic books
Since 1999, Kiełbus has worked regularly with scriptwriter Ewa Karska on educational comic books for children. Their first creations were in commission of the Bytomskie Przedsiebiorstwo Komunalne water supply company, respectively 'Czego pragną śmieci, Randi, Linka i dzieci' ("What trash Randi, Linka and the Kids want", 2004), dealing with waste separation and recycling, and 'Dziwne przygody kropelki wody' ('The Tiny Drop Crosses The Globe', 2006), about water circulation. The latter was a remake of a 1999 booklet made by Karska and illustrator Ryszard Jałowy. The Karska-Kiełbus version was distributed to schools in Polish (20,000 copies), English (10,000 copies) and Danish (20,000 copies).


'The Tiny Drop Crosses The Globe' (2006).

Kiełbus and Karska continued their collaboration at the publishing imprint MAAR Bachan Marzena J., for which they created more educational comic books, including 'Jak krecik Muki pobierał nauki' ("How Muki the Mole learned", 2006), featuring the adventures of a mole family threatened with displacement by the water company. Their next comic 'Porwani na Biosa' ("Kidnapped to Bios", 2009) dealt with the world of ecology and a harmonious coexistence with nature. Between 2008 and 2010, Kiełbus and Karska created four volumes of 'Zaczarowana Altana' ("The Enchanted Gazebo"), an adventure series about three kids who timetravel through Poland's history.

For the same publisher, Kiełbus and Karska created the two-volume comic 'Między Dniem a Snem w Wilanowie' ("Between Night and Day in Wilanów", 2010), showing the history of Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, one of the most prestiguous monuments of Polish history and culture.


Zaczarowana Altana #2 - 'Druga Podróż' (2008).

More historical comics
Besides these comics in commission, Kiełbus has also participated in several collective comic projects dealing with Polish history and culture, often switching his typical cartoony drawing style for a more serious one. For the publisher Mandragora, he drew two installments of 'Strażnicy Orlego Pióra' ("Guardians of the Eagle Feather", 2005-2006), a series dedicated to Polish rulers, scripted by Wojciech Birek. The other two volumes were drawn by Arkadiusz Klimek. In 2008, Kiełbus illustrated four biographical volumes in the collection 'Słynni Polscy Olimpijczycy' ("Famous Polish Olympians"), written by Radosław Nawrot and published by Agora. Kiełbus drew the installments about athlete Bronisław Malinowski, soccer player Kazimierz Górski, racewalker Robert Korzeniowski and shot putter Władysław Komar.

Since 2014, Kiełbus is a contributing artist to the 'Praga Gada' anghology series, published by Fundacja Animacja. The books feature adaptations of stories and legends set in the Praga borough of Warsaw. He mainly participated in the 'Praga Gada Wiechem' installments with authentic stories, adapted from the humorous interwar columns by the chronicler of Warsaw's everyday life, Stefan Wiechecki (Wiech). With scriptwriter Elżbieta Olczak, he additionally made the comic book 'Akcja Kopernik' (2016), dealing with the World War II resistance worker Maciej Aleksy Dawidowski, who famously removed the plaque with the German inscription from the Warsaw monument for Nicolaus Copernicus, and so uncovered the original Polish text. The book was made in commission of the Museum of the Second World War.


'Akcja Kopernik' (2016).

Kajko i Kokosz
Since 2016, Kiełbus has been the artist of new adventures of 'Kajko i Kokosz', a famous Polish comic book series created in 1972 by Janusz Christa. Mixing history with fantasy, the series features the comedic adventures of two Slavic warriors. Because of its themes, characters and graphical style, the series is often compared to Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny's 'Astérix & Obelix'. On hiatus since the original creator retired from the series in 1992, the comic was picked up again in 2016 by the publisher Egmont Polska. At first, the publisher released new collective albums with short stories focusing on some of the series' secondary characters, created by different writers and artists. Among them were Tomasz Samojlik, Norbert Rybarczyk, Krzysztof Janicz and Piotr Bednarczyk, but Sławomir Kiełbus and writer Maciej Kur took care of most of the content. In 2019 and 2021, Kiełbus and Kur also drew the first long adventures with the two lead characters in thirty years, with coloring provided by Piotr Bednarczyk.

Expositions and recognition
In 1997, as one of the authors publishing in the weekly Angora, Kiełbus's work was part of an exhibition during the Łódź comics festival. Since then, he has taken part in individual and group exhibitions in Warsaw, Łódź, Bydgoszcz, Biała Podlaska and Rzeszów. In October 2002, Sławomir Kiełbus won the Grand Prix at the International Comics Festival in Łódź.


'Kajko i Kokosz'.

kielbus.pl

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