Meanwhile in Chicago...

... illustrator Steve Krakow settles down to work in his studio. Head full of ideas, he picks up his pencil and starts to draw. Ideas turn to sketches which become fully inked pages. Steve slowly transforms into the artist synonymous with Gorilla Perfumes, Plastic Crimewave.

Steve does a lot for Gorilla Perfumes; he creates the product labels, the comics and once he even painted us a tour bus. He is also the man behind the artwork for our first ever graphic novel. We ask him to tell us a bit more about his work with Gorilla and how he came to find himself On The Trail Of Sandalwood Smugglers...

You make your own comics, but you call them 'info strips'?

I have been making my own comics since about age six, but I do a long-running one for the local Chicago newspaper, The Chicago Reader, called The Secret History of Chicago Music. It's a bi-monthly strip which covers obscure Chicago musicians. For lack of a better term I call this an ‘info-strip.’

So where do you get your ideas?

My ideas can come from anywhere; old comic books, Dadaists, art deco, rock posters, music, my dreams, cartoons, old cinema, old toys, other artists, life, my friends, etc…

You had a lot to do with organising the events around the Volume 3 gallery launch last week, how was that?

It was fantastic, to be able to book and play with some of my favourite musicians of all time like Edgar Broughton, Arthur Brown, and Comus was beyond amazing. I book festivals in the states, but this was a really fun challenge for me. The Gorilla installations are always creative and engaging! And its always rewarding seeing my art everywhere obviously.

How did the graphic novel come about?

Yes, it was discussed as far back as a few years ago. I think it was Simon's idea, but it took shape over the last year really nicely. The book was Simon's baby really, but Matt Fairhall is definitely the publishing guy. I’d also add that working with Matt was a joy. Besides making the publishing happen, he is a talented writer and a great person to work with.

Plastic crimewave simon constantine sandalwood

Did you work from storyboards?  

Well...I did do initial storyboards for a 26 page book, which I then drew, but lots of new material was added slowly, so the whole book was rearranged, with multiple revisions along the way. It took almost four months to finish.

Was it tough deciding which bits to leave out of the book?

It sure wasn't easy, things were rearranged many times...we just tried to keep it tasteful with names omitted in certain places.

The story is pretty graphic – there's a lot of beheadings! Did you have any reservations about portraying the infamous Veerappan?

No...I actually sort of started the beheading trend, when I drew a panel showing how Veerappan dealt with his victims. I grew up drawing gory comics, so this was my favourite part. Plus I like telling a historical tale a lot, too.

The book contains a lot of revelations about sandalwood. Do you think it will help readers to be more discerning about where their sandalwood oil comes from?

I was shocked myself, and it definitely made me rethink where sandalwood is sourced, as well as other precious materials, so I sure hope it affects others similarly.


On The Trail Of Sandalwood Smugglers is heading abroad soon, so keep checking our Books hub to find out where Steve Krakow aka Plastic Crimewave will land next...


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