Joanna Karpowicz

Painter, illustrator and comic artist

“Lipstick” – my first comic book

“Lipstick” – cover

“Lipstick” (polish title: Szminka) is my first comic book. It was published by Mandragora in 2003 (ISBN 83-89036-64-9). The story was written by Jerzy Szylak, polish theorist of literature and culture and a scriptwriter, known for his passion for dark, criminal plots. As he describes it: “Lipstick is about crime, the one committed in a dark alley, an offence involving a knife, and the other one – committed with the help of words, accusations, insinuation and mental abuse of the victim. Lipstick’s main character, Michal Pawluk is a policeman, with an obsession of capturing and punishing dangerous psycho killer – he is decided to do it at any cost. Situation seems to be simple: crime and punishment. Motivations of the characters though, are far away from being simple. This comic story contains drastic scenes, shows horrible crimes. But the worst of them is the one you can’t see”. The action takes place in Cracow, so those, who know the city can see a bit of familiar places.

“Lipstick” – opening page with Michał Pawluk, main character

From a time perspective I look at “Lipstick” with warmer feelings, I used to criticize it a lot, back in the days. Working on this book was a pretty hardcore experience to me – not only because of the script (packed with violence), but also simply because it was my first long comic story. I tried to do my best to portray the evil.


“Lipstick” was far away from the mainstream and it brought many controversial opinions. Some were saying: “what a creepy story, what an interesting art”, some: “what a creepy art, what an interesting story”. But, to everybody’s surprise it was selling decently.



I clearly remember the chat about “breaking out of mainstream” I had with Phil Hall and Martin Shipp (editors of British comic magazine, Borderline) guests on the International Festival of Comic in Lodz. Martin was talking about how hard is to break through the market with something really weird and avant-garde in Britain. They were flipping pages of “Lipstick” – from first to last, repeating:  “Unbelievable!”.  I guess they liked it, because later on my works were presented in the 17th issue of Boarderline Comic  Magazine (2003 – Young Guns).


Later on pages from “Lipstick” were presented on a few group exhibitions: “Comic nach polnisher art” (Galerie Spedition, Bremen, 2006 – crazy, industrial location), “Comic Avant-grade” (BWA Gallery, Wroclaw, 2004) and “Polish female comic” (LZC, Bialystok, 2010).

“Comic nach polnisher art” – exhibition catalog cover


One comment on ““Lipstick” – my first comic book

  1. Pingback: Whose that lipstick… | Joanna Karpowicz

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This entry was posted on January 18, 2003 by in comic, illustration and tagged , , , .
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