Tea Krulos started reading Woody Woodpecker and Bugs Bunny comics when he was a little kid. As a teenager, he moved on to superhero comics, and today, at 25, he draws his own for his brand new collection of adult funnies called Riverwurst Comics.
A self-described Luddite, Krulos assembles the 'zine without the help of a computer. "It has a slightly flawed but very human touch," he says.
The comic book is unique in the local 'zine world because of its single-tracked concentration on comics. It doesn't feature poetry or other artwork, rather just comic strips ranging from beautiful to bizarre, by ten local artists.
There are numerous highpoints in the 21-page book. Shawn Gurath's dark dreamscape about a woman's kinship with spiders sporting the heads of George Bush and Nosferatu is very intriguing, but the copy is difficult to read in certain frames.
Duane Black's "Pooping In Portland" is probably the most professional pen and ink, with a final frame that makes the tale of a man's search for a porta-potty seem worthwhile. Krulos' latest installment of "Hellagator" (Orbit newspaper readers are familiar with this strip) is satisfying, with an annoying little gnome splatted in the second to last frame.
By far, the best comic concept is Chris Miller's twisted tale of a married man having a passionate affair with a landmine. "We can't keep doing this," the man says to his volatile lover. "She (the wife) has been asking about my missing limbs. I've run out of excuses."
Riverwurst Comics is well worth the $2 price tag but definitely for mature readers only. It's good coffee shop reading and, because it's quick and easy to absorb, even better restroom reading.
Recently, OMC checked in with Krulos who was working at the Riverwest Resale Shop and asked him all sorts of questions about comics and not about comics, too.
OMC: What is the worst comic of all times? Family Circus?
TK: It's hard to determine what is the very worst. Is it Garfield, the fat, lazy spokescat for America? Is it the shallow and whiny musings of Dilbert or Cathy? Ziggy, that idiotic scribble? Personally, I do think it is the Family Circus, those marshmallowy kids with their impossible-to-attain moral ethics.
OMC: How and why did you decide to start this project?
TK: I had been planning this project in my head for quite awhile. I wanted to do a compilation project rather than a 'zine entirely of my own work because I thought it would be more energetic and interesting.
OMC: Did you already know the other artists or did you find them after you decided to start a comic book?
TK: The response to the idea was great, more artists were interested than I thought would be. I knew most of the artists already, but after this issue was released, a few artists I hadn't met asked to do something for the second issue.
OMC: Are all of the artists from Riverwest?
TK: I am a resident of Riverwest and so are most of the other artists, except a couple live on the East Side and one lives in the town of Newburg.
OMC: So, other than comic writing, what else do you do for fun or for money?
TK: Fun or money. A year or two ago I started painting which I found to be a great stress reliever. I've done about ten paintings so far, which I've traded to other painters for pieces of their work. My favorite thing to do though, is draw and read and listen to people telling crazy stories. I like to travel, I've been to 45 states and seven foreign countries. As for money, I don't do anything. I'm broke.
OMC: Are you from Milwaukee?
TK: I was born in Milwaukee and lived on the East Side until I was about to enter kindergarten. At this point, the family moved to Port Washington. I really hated that city. Later we moved to West Bend. Since adulthood, I've also lived in Portland, Oregon, Willits, California, Tucson, Arizona and Baton Rouge, Louisiana
OMC: Did you study art in school?
TK: I have hardly any training in art. I didn't like my high school art classes. I've taken a couple non-credit courses at MIAD. But that's it.
OMC: You just released the first issue, but how often do you plan to have new issues?
TK: It really takes a long time, every step of the way to do a project like this. I like to do it four issues a year, but more realistically, I'll probably do it three times a year. The second issue should be out in late spring.
OMC: How many copies did you print?
TK: I printed 100 copies at Clark Graphics. I've distributed all of these so I'm in the process of printing 100 more. I can only print a hundred at a time because I don't have enough money to front for that many. Anyhow, my goal is to print a total of 400 copies over the next month, so after this second run of 100, I'll be half way there.
OMC: Are you opposed to computer graphics, or do you just not use them?
TK: I guess really I'm stubborn and unmotivated to learn anything about computers except e-mail. But really I think computer graphics are overused and bland. I love handwriting and cut and paste style layout ... I would like to have someone help me set up a Riverwurst web site, but It's not my top priority.
OMC: What are your favorite comics today?
TK: I really like old school and new school underground style comics. Some of my favorite artists are Bill Griffith (Zippy), R.Crumb, Robert Williams, Jhonen Vasquez (Johnny the homicidal maniac), Bobby Madness, Daniel Clowes, Evan Dorkin (Milk and Cheese), Doug Allen (Steven) and David Boswell (Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman).
OMC: Where are Riverwurst Comics available?
TK: The comic is available at Fuel Cafe. Riverwest Resale, Flying Fish Gallery, Riverwest Co-op, and Woodland Pattern. It is also available through the mail, by sending three dollars to Tea Krulos, P.O. Box 511553, Milwaukee, WI 53203
OMC: Why are comics good for adults to read?
TK: It's simply an appealing format to anyone of any age. Illustrations, a story line, comedy, action, romance, talking sausages, drug abusing dogs ... it's all in good fun.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.