Panels from 'Beautiful Canvas' (2017).

Sami Kivelä is a Finnish comic book artist who mainly appears in American publications. His best known titles are 'Abbott' (2018), 'Machine Gun Wizards' (2019) and 'Undone By Blood' (2020). He contributed artwork for 'Chum' (2016), 'Deer Editor' (2014 and 2016) and 'Beautiful Canvas' (2017), working with writer Ryan K Lindsay. Kivelä also drew several comic books for Zenescope Entertainment, including the 'Realm War - Age of Darkness' series (2014-2015), which is part of the Grimm Fairy Tales Universe. He was additionally notable for creating a celebrity comic based on the Finnish rock band Lordi. 

Early life
Kivelä was born in 1979 in the small town of Harjavalta, but nowadays resides in Finland's largest city, Helsinki. As a child, he was amazed by the works of of Jean Giraud (Moebius) in the back of a Finnish Phantom magazine, and a few years later the Alex Raymond newspaper comics 'Flash Gordon' and 'Secret Agent X-9' blew his mind. Kivelä is a self-taught cartoonist who has worked with many types of graphic arts. He earned a degree in animation but never was employed in the field after graduation. Instead, Sami did graphic design and illustration work before deciding to start a full-time career drawing comics.


Lordi comics
Between 2006 and 2008 Kivelä first came to notice in his home country. He was one of the artists behind the celebrity comic books based on the Finnish rock band Lordi. Lordi plays hard rock dressed up in monster costumes, making them look like a typical Nordic black metal band. However, the group surprised many people by participating with the 2006 Eurovision song contest, an annual multinational family friendly pop music competition. Lordi were such fish out of water that they actually won the contest! Their victory increased the band's popularity in their home country and beyond, inspiring publisher Arktinen Banaani to launch a comic book series based on the band's personas. The comics depict Lordi's band members as real monsters, and plots include fictional backstories of the musicians. Sami Kivelä's drawings appeared alongside artwork and stories written by Lordi's frontman Mr. Lordi (Tomi Putaansuu).

US and UK comic book work
By 2010, Sami Kivelä made the transition to the American market. Among his earliest American comic work, with writer Charles Knauf, was 'The Heap' (Moonstone Publishing, 2011) about a mythical last defender of Midgard fighting Nazi oppressors. For the same publisher, Kivelä shared the art duties of the second issue of 'Zeroids' (2010) with Roberto Castro. His first creator-owned book was a crime graphic novel, 'Dark Lies, Darker Truths' (2012), made in collaboration with writer Dino Caruso. It was published by the UK label Markosia.

Realm War - 'Age of Darkness' (2014).

Between 2013 and 2016, Kivelä worked mostly for Zenescope Entertainment. He first drew their hard-boiled thriller series 'Hit List' (2013-2014), about an underground crew of professional killers, funded by a wealthy entrepreneur. The series was written by Zenescope co-founder Ralph Tedesco. Kivelä then produced art for several other Zenescope books, including the series 'Realm War - Age of Darkness' (2014-2015), which is set in the dark fantasy universe of 'Grimm Fairy Tales'. 'Realm War' was written by the company's other founder, Joe Brusha. Kivelä has also illustrated several covers for other Zenescope titles.

'Machine Gun Wizards' (2019).

Sami Kivelä has collaborated with writer Ryan K Lindsay on several comics. For ComixTribe, they made the pulp crime series 'Chum' (2016). In 2014 and 2016  they funded their noir comic 'Deer Editor', (tales of an anthropomorphic crime editor/investigative reporter deer) through Kickstarter. Kivelä and Lindsay's third collaboration was the crime dystopia 'Beautiful Canvas' (Black Mask Studios, 2017), about a hit woman who decides to save the little boy she is contracted to kill.

Kivelä stayed in the crime genre for the supernatural noir series 'Abbott' (2018), written by Saladin Ahmed for BOOM! Studios. 'Abbott' was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2019. For Dark Horse, he illustrated 'Machine Gun Wizards' (2019), a series set in an alternate 1920s Chicago, where Al Capone sells magic instead of bootleg booze. The book marked the writing debut of Christian Ward, Sami's collaborator on the series. The artist also worked on 'Undone By Blood' (AfterShock Comics, 2020), a neo-Western revenge story written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler.

'Undone By Blood' (2020).

Series and books by Sami Kivelä in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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