Rich Koslowski Brings out the List

By Leroy Douresseaux
May 27, 2007 - 16:47

The not-quite-final cover for The List.

He's drawn for Archie Comics and drew the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book.  He's created such acclaimed graphic novels as Three Fingers and the sublime Elvis Presley-flavored, pop culture detective tale, The King.  His comic book series, The 3 Geeks, is something of a cult hit.

Now, Rich Koslowski is on the verge of being a novelist as he prepares for the July release of his illustrated novel, The List, which finds Santa Claus in a war to save not only Christmas, but also human civilization.  Koslowski will publish the novel in a size and format similar to the trade edition of Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, and will feature illustrations like King's book.  (Berni Wrightson drew illos for Cycle.)  Rich answered a few questions about The List for a Bin Q&A:

CBB:  Would mind describing your upcoming illustrated novel, The List, for readers?

KOSLOWSKI:  I would be delighted. It all started with a question for me...What if Santa Claus were real?

Suppose that he is. If he were real he would be the single most powerful being on the planet. For "knowledge is power," as the old saying goes, and who has more knowledge than jolly ol' Saint Nick? He knows! He knows who's naughty and he knows who's nice.  He knows, right?...He has a list.

Now I thought...imagine the people who'd want to get their hands on such a list!...   From there I constructed a story of greed, power, deception and nobility. It's a Christmas story for anyone who grew up watching all those Christmas TV specials like "Rudolph" and "Frosty" every year and who have now grown up to watch things like Lord Of The Rings.  I often tell people this is kind of a Santa Claus Is Coming To Town meets Lord Of The Rings. It gets pretty intense.

CBB:  What inspired you to write this book both in terms of simply writing a book and also choosing this subject matter?

KOSLOWSKI:  Well, I just get these ideas. I can't really control which ideas pop into my head...they just keep coming. Some good, some bad, some really great. I just try and filter the best ones and put them to good use. This one's been around a couple of years and it was just a matter of fitting it into my schedule.

One of several beautiful cover illos in the book.

CBB:  The List isn't cynical about Christmas, but you certainly take exploitation of Christmas to task.  Is the grand wicked scheme at the heart of this book a metaphor for what you see as wrong with some of the modern elements that surround Christmas or what you see as naked greed in general?

KOSLOWSKI:  Yes and yes. I, personally, have become very cynical about Christmas and loathe what it has devolved into. I've try very hard, though, since the birth of my daughter (now 5) to try and find that lost "magic" I used to feel towards Christmas. And without sounding too sappy here I have found it again through her eyes.  This book was written for me as another way of trying to recapture some of that magic.

CBB:  Who is publishing or distributing The List, and do you plan on pushing beyond the Direct Market?

KOSLOWSKI:  It is one of the books I've done that I decided to self-publish. I really like to control of self-publishing and another reason was I felt a sense of urgency to get this printed and out there. It's one of those ideas that I think a lot of people are going to say, "HUH! I'm surprised no one's thought of that before." I didn't want anyone to beat me to the punch.

I plan on trying very hard to push beyond the Direct Market. I'll be pursuing some book distributors in the upcoming months and I'll also be aggressively pursuing the Hollywood crowd on this one as I think it's very well suited for film. I mean, come on!...Santa on top of a tank?!!! Who wouldn't want to see that?

A striking illo from a pivot sequence in The List.

CBB:  You've had varied careers as a book illustrator and a writer, in addition to creating comics.  For some artists, illustration can be more lucrative and rewarding than creating comics for the Direct Market.  Is The List a signal that you're leaving comics behind?

KOSLOWSKI:  Boy, that's a very difficult question. As most people in or around the comic book business know, it is very tough to make a good living from comics. There are very few artists or writers who command Alex Ross or Brian Bendis wages. I make a living but I don't own the plasma flat screen I'd like or the swimming pool. I work very, very hard and the business can be very, very trying sometimes. I could not survive on my comics income alone...let's put it that way.

In my ideal world I could, and there are some projects on the horizon which may be panning out soon to make that dream a reality, but in the meantime I have to broaden my horizons and try a little bit of this and a little bit of that. This latest book is trying a "little bit of that."  Something different, something fresh.  I don't see myself ever leaving comics completely behind. It's my first love and I wish for nothing more than to be able to make a good living in this genre. But if my path takes me elsewhere I will take it.

CBB:  Besides The List, what is on the horizon, and do you have any updates or status reports on The 3 Geeks movie?

KOSLOWSKI:  I'm currently illustrating a wonderful graphic novel entitled, "BB WOLF & THE 3 L.P.S" which is written by Johnnie Arnold and is a brilliant retelling of the classic Three Little Pigs story.  This one makes the piggies the bad guys though and the wolf...well, let's just say the wolf hasn't had a very good life.  It's a story that parallels a lot of the persecution African Americans faced in the south in the 1920s and 1930s. It's a story that is very powerful and I am thrilled to be illustrating this!  The illos are, by far, the best work I've done to date and I will be shocked if this book doesn't do very well. Johnnie's script is first-rate.  He's new to the comic's scene as a writer (having previously worked the retail end) but I have a feeling he's going to burst onto the scene pretty impressively.

The 3 Geeks movie is moving along. We've got the first draft of the screenplay done and are working on the revisions. We were initially hoping to start filming this fall but it looks like we'll probably start next spring/summer.  Not because of any problems, though.  Actually, because all three of us primary people at the helm have been so incredibly busy with other projects.  But, I think the date being pushed back will turn out to be a good thing. I'd hate for us to rush this and turn out an inferior movie. The story is looking great and we want to make sure we do this whole thing its proper justice. So look for a late 2008/early 2009 release!

At Rich's website,, readers will find generous samplings of the cartoonist's work: past and present.  The site also has a store with many items for sale including paperback and hardcover editions of The King, a graphic novel I highly recommend.


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