Back in 1997 I walked into my local comic shop and spotted and odd book from a creator I'd never heard of before. The book was "How to Pick Up Girls if You're a Comic Book Geek," an original graphic novel starring a group of three obsessive comic collectors - geeks if you will - with a bit of instruction on how to, well, pick up girls if you're a comic book geek. The book was written and created by Rich Koslowski and published through his own 3 Finger Prints banner and it was fun. No, there really weren't any helpful tips on exactly how to woo the ladies, but it was a fun read that captured the crazy, obsessive side of comic book fans everywhere.
The book spawned "The 3 Geeks" series as well as the "Geeksville" anthology book. The stories of these three geeks - who take their habit a wee bit too seriously - can be quite silly and funny, but Koswloski fills them with a lot of heart, which is probably why despite a sporadic publishing schedule (Koslowski puts on the occasional special in between his work on original graphic novels like "Three Fingers," "The King" and his Archie Comics work), the 3 Geeks still have a rabid following of fans. And those fans will be rewarded this Summer when the latest special called "Jim's Jerky" debuts, but with a very special insert - a piece of beef jerky. No, we're not kidding. We caught up with Koslowski to get the lowdown on what the geeks are up to now.
Like the previous 3 Geeks projects, "Jim's Jerky" will be published under Koslowski's 3 Finger Prints banner. The comic is 20 pages and will be the size of those little booklets inserted into CD cases, in full color and priced at $2.00. While comics have seen a wide variety of crazy inserts and extras over the years, when we heard this book would include a free piece of beef jerky, we had to ask if we heard that right - does "Jim's Jerky" really include a free piece of beef jerky? "Yes, that is correct -- a free piece of beef jerky," exclaimed Koslowski when speaking with CBR News earlier this week. "This is going to be another one of my unique, exciting, 'I have to do this!' projects that'll probably end up costing me more to make than I actually recover through sales -- just like the audio tape I did for 'The 3 Geeks' #8 and the mini-comic insert in 'Geeksville' Vol. 2, #3, but when I get these ideas I simply must see them through.
"As some readers might remember, Jim and Keith work for a German sausage maker at Helmut's Country Market. Jim, in particular, has a certain zest for the job and shows incredible aptitude for the blade. In this story, Jim starts to mess around with Helmut's tried and true sausage recipes. At first Helmut is miffed, but then remembers that Jim has a certain wisdom. So he tries Jim's suggestions. The results? Well, you'll have to read the comic (and eat the jerky, of course)."
Koslowski's not certain exactly when he'll be soliciting "Jim's Jerky" just yet ("soon" he said), but the book will be making it's debut at Comic-Con International in San Diego at the end of July. "Jim's Jerky" also marks Koslowski's solo debut as a colorist. "So, all you speculators should order heavy on this one because it is sure to go through the freakin' stratosphere in value when the word gets out," joked Koslowski.
As we mentioned above, outside of these 3 Geeks, Koslowski's made a name for himself with the graphic novels "Three Fingers," which takes a "behind the scenes" look at the controversial world of animated characters, and "The King," about an Elvis impersonator (or is he?) in Vegas who transforms the lives of everyone he meets. But even nine years later, he keeps coming back to the 3 Geeks. What is it about these characters that keeps Koslowski coming back for more? "I keep coming back to the 3 Geeks because the fans keep asking me for more and I have a ton more stories to tell and I love these characters," said Koslowski. "I know them so well that the stories literally flow right out of me onto the page. That and the big budget movie that the studios keep hounding me to make."
Writing and drawing comics almost came to an end for Koswloski when over a year ago Koslowski suffered an almost career ending injury to one of his eyes, but he's happy to report he's almost back to 100%, but not after a very scary period. "For those of you reading this saying, 'Huh?', I got poked in the eye playing basketball and the injury was so severe that one of the muscles that moves your eye was torn so bad it was irreparable. The result of the injury was severe double-vision. I couldn't function. Severe headaches, nausea and fatigue were the side-effects. After a six-month wait the doctors decided to do surgery -- on the other eye! This freaked me out. The only way to fix the problem was to intentionally 'damage' the good eye. Damage it so that it matched the bad eye. The problem was in the 'tracking' of the eyes together.
"Long story short, this radical procedure worked. I will never be 100% again, but before the surgery I would have given my eyesight a 20% at best and now it's a strong 90%. Froedtert Eye Institute and Dr. Mark Ruttum are my heroes!"
With his eyes now working in tandem again, Koslowski's keeping busy with a long list of new projects. "I just finished a short, illustrated novel, actually, entitled 'The List.' It's a Christmas story - a 'grown up' Christmas story. Kind of a "Santa Claus is Coming To Town' meets 'Lord of the Rings.' Right now I am in the process of finding out about the copyrights and licensing of some of the characters I have in the story. I was hoping to have the book debut at Comic-Con as well, but this one's very important to me and I want to cross all my 'T's and dot all my 'I's before releasing it. I truly think it's the best thing I've ever written and can't wait until it's released. Hopefully, I'll be able to solicit it for this Christmas.
"Other than that, I am about to finally write my dad's story of his escape from East Germany as a young boy, and his subsequent journey to America. It's a true 'American Dream' story that's both riveting and touching. He's always told of his past in bits and pieces, over the years, and I think I've finally got the bulk of it out of him. Then, a few months ago, he drops the 'bomb' and gives me the key to the whole story! It's such a pivotal piece of his life, the thing that makes the story complete, makes it whole and makes you say, "Oh my God!" And when he told me I was like, 'Dad! Why haven't you told us that before?! That totally makes the story!' And my dad, in his typical, old German way just kind of shrugs and says, "Vhat? I don't know." You'll have to wait and see. But trust me, it is a pretty great story and I'm going to be thrilled to finally put it on paper."