Artist Irene Strychalski has drawn for Marvel books such as “Deadpool Family,” "Marvel Super Hero Adventures" and “SILK." She's also created her own comics. Photo courtesy Irene Strychalski
Artist Irene Strychalski has drawn for Marvel books such as “Deadpool Family,” "Marvel Super Hero Adventures" and “SILK." She's also created her own comics. Photo courtesy Irene Strychalski

Marvel comic artist to appear at ABX May 4

Marvel-veteran, independent comics creator and Atlanta artist Irene Strychalski constructs complex fantasy characters leaning to darker interests.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4, she will cast a fictional, figurative shadow at ABX, 280 S. Belair Martinez as a top-billed guest during Free Comic Book Day.

FIENDISH 2.5 cover by Michael Rushbrook. Courtesy photo

Strychalski, creator of the independent comic “FIENDISH”, will be having an exclusive signing of her comic at the comics and gaming store, along with top-billed artist Michael Rushbrook who has created art for some of the “FIENDISH” comics and who creates his own work as well.

“I’ve always gravitated towards darker elements in storytelling, and I think that’s what drew me towards seinen manga,” Strychalski said.

She added, “Even as a kid, my favorite manga was ‘Case Closed’ – which was essentially murder mysteries for kids – and as a teenager, I fell in love with manga like ‘Ghost in the Shell’, ‘Gunnm’ and ‘Blade of the Immortal’. Long story short… people are kind of messed up in real life, and I just like storytelling that reflects that.”

Strychalski has not only been influenced by her time in the United States but in her time in Taiwan.

“I grew up in Taiwan, and moved to the States for art school when I was 17. I’ve bounced between Taiwan and the U.S., but I’ve mostly been working and living in Georgia,” she said.

Growing up in Taiwan meant she was surrounded by comics constantly – perhaps more so than kids her age in the United States – and she found this to be a blessing.

“I would get off school and just spend hours at the manga store or library instead of doing my homework, and it gave me so much room to imagine and learn about storytelling,” she said.

Her self-professed art-style is a merger of Eastern and Western styles.

“This happened naturally as I merged the manga style I originally had as a teenager with a more Western look once I started art school. I like to incorporate techniques that I see in manga as well as techniques from Western fantasy novels into my writing,” she said.

Her worldbuilding in “FIENDISH” has a heavy European influence with thematic elements influenced by American culture, she said.

Strychalski stated online, “FIENDISH is my creator-owned comic where I let my love for classical fantasy, seinen manga, horror, and worldbuilding run free. The story follows Kazimir, Yeomi, and Iskel as they investigate and pursue the mysterious monsters that killed their families.”

“FIENDISH” is not her first creative rodeo. For 13 years, she has been working in comics, animation and gaming after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she majored in Sequential Art and minored in Animation. 

Artist Irene Strychalski. Photo credit: Minh Pham

She has penciled and inked for the Marvel books “Deadpool Family,” “Marvel Super Hero Adventures” and “SILK”. Also, she has drawn background art for the FX show “Archer”. In addition, she has completed storyboards, character, and background work for the Marvel show “Hit Monkey.”

CSRA-resident Michael Rushbrook, who also has top-billing for the event, is the penciler and inker for Chapter #2.5 of “FIENDISH,” as well as the designer, penciler and inker on the main campaign cover.

 “Though I draw the main books for ‘FIENDISH,’ I have a system where I hire other artists to draw the “.5 chapters”- which are shorter one-shot stories that supplement the main books- and Michael was the first artist that I hired for a ‘FIENDISH’ book in this manner. And I couldn’t be happier with his work,” Strychalski said.

Like Strychalski, Rushbrook spent part of his life living in another country – specifically Germany – but he has lived in Augusta most of his life, and for many years, has been an active part of the CSRA Sequential Artist group which will have other member artists and authors signing at the ABX event on Saturday.

Rushbrook said, like the creator of “FIENDISH,” he combines Western comic styles with manga/anime visuals, so they have some similarities.

Regional aspects have influenced Rushbrook’s work in addition to international ones.

“Living in Augusta, along with my parents’ guidance, has instilled in me a good deal of Southern charm that translated into my work, which can be narrowed down to hard work and respect,” he said.

Michael Rushbrook. Photo courtesy Michael Rushbrook

Rushbrook enjoyed working with Strychalski on the project.

“Being able to talk and work with someone who understands how comics work and how compositions and creativity come into play on every page really help(s) make the process of drawing every page go so smoothly,” he said.

Rushbrook is an award-winning art director for “Augusta Magazine” and “Athens Magazine” as well as an illustrator/comics artist. He attended Augusta Technical College and majored in Printing and Graphic Design. In addition, Rushbrook has been drawing most of his life and specializes in traditional and digital art. He is currently working on Rock & Soul Productions “Brothers of Justice”, and his ongoing projects “The Dark Moon Saga” and “Phantoms” comic books.

Other creators at Free Comic Book Day at ABX on May 4 will include Lee Newman, Shelby Puckett, Travis Hollaway, Xavier Jones, BoperNine Conklin, Shua Smith, Josh Clark Goodman, Addison Potter, Joshua Larios, Shelice Toomer, Fox Si-Long Caceres, and David Bryant.

Correspondent Ron Baxley Jr. is a veteran journalist who has worked with multiple news organizations in his career. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News’ newsletter here

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