'Blond Eve', Adam and Eve in the style of Chic Young's 'Blondie'.

Robert Sikoryak is an U.S. independent comics artist, who signs his work mostly with "R. Sikoryak". He is best known for his satirical mash-up parodies, where he mixes classic comics with famous works of literature. Sikoryak has tackled both literary fiction ('Masterpiece Comics', 2009), as well as non-fiction ('Terms & Conditions. The Graphic Novel', 2017). The end results are often funny and have a bewildering effect. Sikoyrak has been praised for making doorstoppers accessible to the average reader. Yet the artist went on record saying that he merely wants "to bridge the so-called gap between high and low art (...) which often doesn't exist anyway." Sikoryak was additionally co-chief editor of Raw magazine between 1985 and 1991. 

Early life and career
Robert Sikoryak was born in 1964 and grew up in New Jersey. He and his older brothers loved Mad Magazine and his earliest attempts at making comics were already parodies in Mad's familiar style. In 1985 he became co-editor of Raw. A great honour, considering founders Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly were the only chief editors up to that point. Spiegelman and Sikoryak would additionally co-edit the chain comic 'The Narrative Corpse' (1995), which incorporated contributions from dozens of cartoonists. Sikoryak was even the first artist to kick the whole project off! 

In 1987 Sikoryak earned his BFA at the Parsons School of Design in 1987, and published his early work in publications like Art Spiegelman's Raw (1989-91), Snake Eyes (1990-93), The New Comics Anthology (1991), The New Yorker (1994-99), The Village Voice, LA Weekly, Pulse!, Wired Magazine, Drawn & Quarterly (2000-2001) and Reveal (Dark Horse, 2002).

'Candiggy' - Voltaire's 'Candide, or Optimism' in the style of Tom Wilson's 'Ziggy'.

Masterpiece Comics
His most notable creation is the 'Masterpiece Comics' series, in which world literature is translated into cartoon parodies (or as his website calls it "Recombining the DNA of our culture"). The series first appeared in several of aforementioned publications, and were collected in book format in 2009. The work includes Dostoyevsky's 'Crime and Punishment' transformed into the Batman-parody 'Dostoyevsky Comics' (all in Bob Kane style), Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' morphed into 'Waiting to Go' starring Mike Judge's 'Beavis and Butt-Head', Emily Brontë's 'Wuthering Heights' turned into the EC comic book 'The Crypt of Brontë', and many more. In a three-part interview with The Daily Cross Hatch (2009) Sikoryak said that he spent a lot of time trying to capture both the essence of the original literary texts with the spirit of the spoofed comics: "It's a weird balancing act and the longer I do it, the more I wonder about the process." He summarized his vision an interview with The Guardian (8 March 2017) conducted by Sian Cain: "All my work is an attempt to bridge the gap between what we call high art and low art, what we think is important or serious, and what we see as frivolous and meaningless. Often, that boundary doesn't exist.”

In a 15 March 2017 interview for The Comics Journal, conducted by Rachel Davies, Sikoryak added: "Comics that are popular are always fascinating to me -- like why did this connect to people? I don’t mean to judge why it's popular, I just think it's interesting what things really hit people, what strikes a nerve, and what connects. My work is in some ways really theoretical, and objective. I always kinda want to analyze what makes something work, and what makes something popular, which isn't always the same thing but sometimes is absolutely the same thing."

The Unquotable Trump: pastiche covers of EC's 'The Vault of Horror' and DC's 'Detective Comics'..

The Unquotable Trump
His satirical book 'The Unquotable Trump' (2017) is collection of parodies depicting U.S President Donald Trump, illustrated in the style of iconic comic book covers from the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age of Comic Books. Most covers are built around real-life quotes and incidents involving Trump. Sikoryak was aware that Trump's Twitter messages would be more suitable for speech balloons, given their short length, but he deliberately picked out the presidential speeches instead, because, as he stated in an interview with The Guardian (8 March 2017) conducted by Sian Cain: "Trump's speeches are blathering. He rambles, talks around ideas. It is anti-comic."

Terms and Conditions
Sikoryak's most bizarre graphic novel might be 'Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel' (2017). 'Terms and Conditions' was originally published online in April and September 2015, in two parts. It adapts the terms and conditions from the iTunes instruction manual into a comic book by simply pouring the text into a readable comics mash-up. All speech balloons are line by line quotes from this dry, informative manual. Sikoryak uses Apple founder Steve Jobs as his protagonist throughout "the story". To provide variation, each page is a parody of a classic comic strip, among others Billy DeBeck's 'Barney Google', E.C. Segar's 'Popeye', Hergé's 'Tintin', Chester Gould's 'Dick Tracy', Otto Messmer's 'Felix the Cat', Charles M. Schulz' 'Snoopy', Matt Groening's 'The Simpsons', Akira Toriyama's 'Dragon Ball Z', Siegel & Shuster's Superman', Jeff Smith's 'Bone', and many more. 

In the aforementioned Comics Journal interview, Sikoryak said that, contrary to his Masterpiece Comics, the 'Terms and Conditions' have no narrative and nobody has any emotional attachment to it. This actually opened up a lot more creative possibilities, especially since it is such a long-winding abstract piece of text: the original manuscript is more than 20.699 words long! For him it was also an interesting experience in changing art styles and discovering other comics. He went online looking for foreign comics and more recent artists like Kate Beaton, Allie Brosh and Raina Telgemeier, to introduce their readers to reference material they might not be familiar with. Beyond the one-note joke 'Terms and Conditions' is actually far more entertaining than the original manual. The dry abstraction of the text, which few people have ever read all the way through, takes on a new, somewhat hypnotic experience in combination with all the familiar, but unrelated imagery. It's both deliciously surreal as well as remarkably motivational to actually "read" what this text communicates.

'Terms and Conditions': The Graphic Novel, spoofing Hergé's Tintin.

Graphic contributions
In 2013, when the final episode of Matt Groening's 'Life in Hell' appeared in print, Sikoryak was one of several cartoonists to pay graphic homage. In 2019, to celebrate the centennial of E.C. Segar's 'Popeye' Sikoryak was one of several artists to pay homage in the one-shot comic 'Popeye's Cartoon Club'. 

His 'Masterpiece Comics' won the 2010 Ignatz Award in the category 'Outstanding Anthology or Collection'. 

Other work
Since 1997, Sikoryak has furthermore taken the stage at venues throughout the USA and Canada with his 'Carousel' series of multimedia comics slide shows, which also feature work by Lauren Weinstein, Michael Kupperman and Jason Little. He has published cartoons and illustrations in Nickelodeon Magazine, World War 3 Illustrated and on the satirical talk show 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart. Sikoryak is an illustration teacher at the Parsons School, and resides in New York City since 2017.

'Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel', spoofing an X-Men page by John Byrne and Chris Claremont.


Series and books by Robert Sikoryak in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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