somethinginmyshirtWhere’s the world at?

As an artist I am often overcome with emotions and sensations. And also by the darkness of the world at times. With conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, planes being shot out of the sky and wars in countless other places… How does that reflect on us? On our society? I ask myself many questions and I realise that some of that darkness has found a way into my work. I hope you don’t mind.

Why are we here? Where are we going?

What are your questions about our human existence? I am curious! Is it too heavy? I guess, that’s the process of reflection and learning. But answers are elusive. Working Beauty doesn’t want to answer questions either, but it wants to ask as many as possible. It is about our own accountability to evolve and create our paths… Individually and as a society with (hopefully) a twinkle in our eye and a smile!

So apart from the darkness, there is humour and there is courage… and if nothing else, I hope you get inspired by that. Oh, it’s good to talk about it and get it off my chest, … even though, I must say, I almost like that pink little fluffy thing…

Hope you continue to enjoy the story, and get ready for a suspenseful episode on Sunday that rivals vertigo!

Hugs
Adona

The Apocalyptic Question

July 15th, 2014

IMG_0120What do you experience when reading Working Beauty? Please let me know…

As my work feels very much in “transition”, and I often wonder where I am heading. Creatively. I know how the story will end this Season (at least to some extent) but as I have become more apocalyptic in my story, I realise that I have brought a lot more colour into the art. Which is an interesting contradiction. Maybe the color represents the amount of “fantasy” and “science-fiction” that I brought into Working Beauty. I always felt drawn to fantasy in my stories… but then that doesn’t alway turn out for the best.

The next episodes will become more and more coloured and as I was just drawing a new episode with black and white (and red), it felt like a return to true focus and form.

I am curious where the creative force will lead me…

 

What are the questions you ask when reading Working Beauty?

Or is it turning into Walking Beauty? Or Working Dead?

See what I did there? No? Oh well… written humour is not my forté!

I also want to say, thanks a lot for your support during the last weeks, every message, comment and thought certainly helped… I feel like I am slowly coming back to the living, but I do hunger for different creative outlets and projects… Which might also mean rethinking Working Beauty altogether!

Hugs

Adona

Artist Corner: What’s Business?

September 3rd, 2013

fb8As an artist I sometimes feel a bit different… I feel a bit different in general,… but because I’m an artist I feel even differenter (I just made that up). My main target is for readers to enjoy my art and my work, but I have a real difficulty to put a price on it… I often just want to give everything away for free. It’s an like an urge… and this website is a testament of that!

In a way my aim is to use a business model where everyone can enjoy the art, yet also be able to pay (if they want to). And I would be very grateful, if you appreciate the art AND have the means, please do contribute as it keeps me going and helps me finance my “life-passion”. I know that this is not the common business model of the world, but currently I am able to do that and offer you my work for … basically free.

People say, artists only become valuable when they’re dead… Well… I am happy to be cheap then. And so everyone can continue reading Working Beauty online for free, but I will soon offer downloadable ebooks with exclusive content to buy as well. That being said, one ebook coming out soon is … yes TOSAOM, there will be two verisons available, one is for free (or a donation of your choice) and a higher quality print version from 6.39 USD! and here’s some more artwork from that, for you to enjoy. (should I make any TOSAOM t-shirts? anyone interested?)

 

 

Like every respectable actress knows, a career starts with some B- or C-movies and they are later a bit ashamed of the nudity, the sillyness or the horror of their earlier efforts. Our comic-stars have exactly the same past… but they are not ashamed of their origins, as silly and naked as they might have been.

That’s why Working Beauty will proudly bring to you the first re-issue of the “Belladona” series (a set of comics from Aldona Kaczkowski before ‘Working Beauty’ was born) as a download for everyone (I offer it for free, BUT I am looking on putting it up on a plattform where YOU can actually decide how much it is worth for you to download… ):

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It’s coming 9th of September 2013

 

 

Dancing with the past…

August 27th, 2013
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The first page… can you spot Sarah, Claire and… oh wait Isobel had a completely different hairdo…

As announced earlier this month, I am working on restoring one of my older comic stories so I can put it on the web for my readers. It is one of my favorites, because I remember I put a lot of thought and work into it and it is up to now my most consistent comic story. It’s also very harsh, politically incorrect and sexist… Or what else would you call a comic story titled “Tits of Steel and Arses of Marble” (TOSAOM in short)

So at times I am having serious doubts if this work is relevant today, or to put it differently, if it reflects my current work. And while I think in some way it is not relevant, because I made it at the age of about 28, and I have changed just like my work did. I have matured (although often I think I’m just “playing” grown-up rather than being it). And my view of the world is different today than it was then. But then I think it still holds some good points.

As I said, I was “restoring” or “renovating” that comic page by page. And so I felt like dancing with my own past self. I remembered my thoughts, my mindsets and my moods at the time of drawing that particular piece of work. And while I don’t hold some of those moods or mindsets anymore the comic was an expression of who I was. And it was fun, reflective and sometimes painful to reconnect with who I used to be…

And while I was dancing with my own self, I realized that a lot of what I am doing now, was already present in my old work. I admit, it wasn’t subtle or maybe even intelligent, but some of what I try to convey with Working Beauty was already there. The harsh social commentary, the constant “battle” of the sexes and the testing of boundaries!

It’s also sexist! Not misogynistic!… Now funny thing is, I always have to look up what the opposite misogyny is, because I keep forgetting. And it’s actually misandry! The hatred of men… As a younger woman I felt I had to be misandrist. And while I thought at the time that it was because some men have disappointed me romantically (well who doesn’t make THAT experience) I now believe it was part of a bigger picture. I think I was often angry at how sexist the world is towards women, and how often I perceived it as unfair. And the only way for me to express that resentment was to try and balance it out with sexism that goes the other way.

Now, I know I would deal with this issue differently today, I still think this work is a good reminder of how women can be easily seen as the weaker sex and how “fun” it is to actually reverse the order of things… even if it is to some extent a bit … for the lack of a better word: immature.

With that teaser I let you look at two more of the “before” and “after” pictures of TOSAOM and hope you will read it once I am ready to put it out there… I am still trying to figure out how I put it online. Would you like to read it in a blog format in a Working Beauty subsection? (eg. every day a new page, so you can stretch the enjoyment into a 2 month period :-)), or should I create a special microsite for my old works and start of with TOSAOM (also blog format maybe?)… or just have the full comic as a say PDF?… let me know please….

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promotitleAs the new Season of Working Beauty is approaching and I told somebody about it, she asked me what my process was.

How am I creating the story?

I thought that’s a good opportunity for reflection because despite the fact that a some of the story just evolves, there is a certain amount of planning that does happen! The best answer I could come up with was “my process is kinda layered” (that’s just me being mysterious)… But, well it is, and I often don’t know the details that will come up, but my story needs a backbone and I try to come up with that pretty early on as it gives me a focus. Now I won’t reveal what that is going to be in Season 4, but I can say that we are going to have some funny (and somewhat sexy) expats visiting the corporation… They will challenge and question our heroines and stir up all sorts of things… And hopefully take everyone on a reflective journey.

I also have a couple of minor story-lines which I want to explore in the next Season (Beware: minor spoilers ahead)

 

  • - Prof. Betty Pattson is now in prison after her despicable crimes and her daughter Isobel will visit her at some point
  • - Isobel, as we know, came out of the closet (not literally). Now I’d really like her to find a nice girlfriend (as she is still single)
  • - Oh and I promised an episode which is using the 27 old-fashioned words that should see a revival (see here)!

Now those are examples where I already know I have to bring them into the next Season. However those smaller ideas need to also be part of the bigger story-arc. So yeah, it’s layered, like a lovely chocolate truffle cake without calories… And yet I hope it will have more mysterious twists and surprising turns than a South American telenovela!

Hasta Luego
Aldona

 

Someone asked me on facebook whether I feel I could use comedy for every subject, or if some things were taboo. After some reflection, I realized this question is worth a post of its own. Thanks Esther :-)

What is a taboo?! I could have asked that question back too, because taboos are individual and connect with our own values and boundaries. It’s a very intrigueing question. And I realized that indeed there are boundaries which I hold on to. In short my taboos are sex and death!

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Tits of Steel and A*ses of Marble- Comicbook title-page made in 2005

Sex: I have an issue with nudity (oh I see raised eyebrows and “really?”)… well yes, I make jokes about sex and there is an amount of cleavage and the occasional butt-cheek, but I do have an issue with nudity, as I do respect my characters privacy and my readers sensibilities. I would not depict sex in a comic that could be considered pornographic and I don’t think I could make fun of child abuse as I think this is the most horrible thing ever.

Death: Again, I made jokes about our society’s tendency to be in denial about death. But then I doubt I could make jokes about actual tragedies, accidents and deaths. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t let a character die (in a funny way, maybe?), but that’s fictional for me. Although I remember when I wanted to kill off Simon a friend reminded me “I don’t know, life imitates art,…” and so I didn’t kill him. So I am careful with that too.

I also realize that if people make fun of those taboos, I do feel offended. So taboos for me are very much linked with what we feel is offensive. And as someone once asked me “Do you reflect on what people might think when they read your comics?”. I do actually. In the end I try to make comedy for a purpose. So even when I am consciously offensive, I am offending the system and the structures we created collectively (so it’s a shared offense). But my aim is not to offend any reader. when I scratch on topics that could be considered taboos (homosexuality, racial stereotypes, gender stereotypes), it is from a systemic perspective. I try to reflect what I observe in our society.

Which ultimately leads me to my question: Is there anything you, my fellow readers, find “crossing a line” in my comics? It would be interesting to explore that. As I always believe, if we find something that offends us personally, it holds valuable information about ourselves. And THAT is the interesting bit.

Please, feel free to comment and tell me your views!

Artist Corner: Q&A

May 2nd, 2013

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Why have you started with Working Beauty?

The simple answer: Well, I had to. The more complex answer is: I don’t know exactly why. I guess, at some point in my career I just missed doing comics and I missed the characters I used to create when I was still in school and university. It wasn’t just comics it was about creating an alternate reality where me and my friends could find ourselves in and do anything and cope with anything.

What do you mean with coping?

Well, as an example, at university some of my friends and I, we just dated those horrible guys, who either dumped us, or cheated on us… I can’t really remember all of it. And so I created short comic strips where we would kill them in the most horrific ways (think Piranha 3D meets Killer Germs or something)! My friends could contribute their ideas and I would draw it… It was a blast! It helped us deal with the resentment and move on, and laugh about it! And those were my first black and white and red comics. The red was for the blood! Those were very gruesome deaths, I tell you!

Can we see them?

Maybe one day… I recently looked through my back catalogue, and I think some comics could still be a fun read for fans of Working Beauty, if you can overlook the shabby drawings. I used to work much quicker but also less defined in those times. Well if anyone’s interested in reading them, let me know, I am really happy to put some work in them and make them available online! My personal favourite is still “T*ts of Steel and A*ses of Marble” a take on Greek Mythology… It’s like “300″ or “Immortals” just mainly with women!

So you’re saying that the characters in the comics are people you know?

Not really. The company for example is purely fictional and most characters are pure fiction too. But of course I would be lying if I denied that I base SOME characters on my own personality traits and also personality traits I observed in others. But even if I modeled a character on someone I know, the figure usually takes a life of its own and develops in ways that has nothing to do with the person. Or the other way around,  the comic character stagnates. I have a friend who broke her foot fallling off a horse and had a cast years ago, that went into my idea to give Sólrun a cast and a horse. Now my friend is long out of her cast (which was not heel-shaped by the way) and doesn’t use a wheelchair… So yes, life imitates art, and sometimes art imitates life, it’s all connected. But it’s not the same!

So are you still coping with something when you do Working Beauty?

Yes, the human female condition! That’s that! I have a certain perspective on our current corporate culture and the organizational systems we have created, and I think some of that is detrimental to the human condition. I can’t change it, but it’s my way to deal with it, by trying to make some of the inconsistencies visible and let our comic heroines struggle with it. I also deliberately said “female” condition in the beginning, because my point of view and my “suffering” is a female one.

What is the “female suffering”?

I think it has so many aspects that we are not even aware of it all. I think it boils down to the expectations we have. I’m going to out myself AGAIN as a big fan of RuPaul. In the most recent episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” called “Countdown to the Crown” RuPaul was playing the female news anchor and when the advertisement break was coming up she took out a cake from underneath the table and started icing it. In the next segment after announcing the next break she got out a juicer and started shoving carrots into it, smirking sexily to the camera. I thought that was so brilliant and so funny… A woman can’t be JUST a great news anchor, in our minds she also (STILL) has to be a great housewife… and those scenes just again showed how ridiculous that is! If anything, that’s exactly what I would love Working Beauty to be! Confrontational in a very funny way… but having people go “mmmh… “…

Do you think Working Beauty is achieving its intent?

I don’t know. The comments I get from readers are positive and there were a couple of episodes where I thought I really hit the mark (eg. the HR episode in the very first season where I got quite a big response). But it’s difficult to say. I also realize that my purpose has only recently started to really take shape, and I am starting to become more focused. I realize Working Beauty always had that “social commentary” thing going on, but maybe I used Working Beauty a bit to deal with my own resentment at the beginning, and now I am actually moving into something more purposeful, if that makes sense? Some of the ideas (even for the artist corner) come to me in dreams, and sometimes I wake up and think “this is what I have to do”. But saying that, I also wanted to give up on Working Beauty many times… There were many moments when I thought “oh there’s no point, just go and find yourself a day job again”… But I haven’t given up yet, because in those dark times, there’s always a person who comments or mails something really nice and supportive… and I go like “oh it’s still worth it”. And there’s always a voice in me that says it is important, and that I should continue. I still think that voice is wrong and wonder whether I should ask my doctor to give me some pills to shut it up… but… for the time being I am motivated to continue… so…

So how is Working Beauty going forward?

I never know… that’s the honest truth. Right now I needed to bring some really silly parodies into the world and we’re still going to see a take on “Titanic”, “Planet of the Apes” and “Lord of the Rings”. But at some point I will start on the new Season which will include a big surprise, and certainly go into a new direction than the previous one.

Is Molly coming back?

I don’t know how the story evolves, I certainly haven’t planned it for the beginning of the fourth Season! She is in Greenland now, she is happy. That’s all I know. But as with everything, I’d say “never say never”!

Thanks for reading this Q&A. If you are interested to ask something yourself, please provide questions in the comments, on facebook or via e-mail and we’ll add them to a next session!

You might feel like “Why does Working Beauty make a parody of Showgirls? Isn’t Working Beauty promoting strong female characters? While Showgirls is just a bunch of misogynist crap?”

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Untitled, watercolor at age 16, half-destroyed by flood-water

Well, I agree AND it is also a very camp interpretation of femininity and thus a commentary on women’s social standing. So while women are shown as uber-stereotypes and they are exploited out of their wits (which is a reflection of how society treats women), the movie itself is still celebrating uber-feminine characters.

I tell you why, Showgirls has become a cult classic in the gay and drag-community. Exactly because of it’s presentation of women! Most gay men love femininity (look at Almodovar’s movies for example)! And drag is not just about men putting on women’s clothes, it’s an art that often portrays the ultra-female, and often with that reflecting on how society sees women.

But then gay men don’t treat femininity as if it’s something bad, they celebrate it! … Is that the same in our corporate culture? My experience is the opposite. I am not impressed with men who go all rational on us nor with women who are afraid to be themselves. Because it’s bad to be emotional, to be a dramatic diva, to be a b*tch, to be “sexy”, to wear make-up… So in the corporate environment all becomes a big blob of “male characteristics” because that is STILL considered more appropriate when it comes to career and leadership.

We often think femininity is just the outside package. No it’s about being a woman, the estrogen, the mood swings, our different way of problem-solving, the hole she-bang (pun intended). My view is that the power actually lies in the feminine and how we actually are different from men! … And the challenge is to find the balance between becoming what society expects to be feminine (that more often than not is focused on the appearance) and yet not to deny our feminine side to become one of the men!

And so Showgirls is still one of those movies, that fascinates me for it’s uber-feminine characters. And so if the gay can love it, so can Working Beauty! And so the parody will come up on Sunday!

What do you think are the best female qualities?
What are things/characteristics you feel like hiding in your job?
Which of those would you consider particularly female?

Just some questions to think or comment about, both for men and women…

PS: If you are looking for some tips on great everyday business make-up to underline your femininity, go to Sonia’s blog and read “The Power of Make-Up” and it’s interesting, how she also has to “justify” herself sometimes for picking up such a girlie hobby like cosmetics… Again, proves my point a bit!

Hugs
Aldona

 

Artist Corner: Escapism

April 19th, 2013

Dear readers and Working Beauties…

There are not only cheerful moments in the life of an artist. It wasn’t just a coincidence I chose to publish the “Wizard of Oz” Parody last week. I am not going through a good time at this moment. Probably one of the worst of my life. My mother is very ill and had to go to hospital so I travelled back all the way from Australia to Switzerland for a while to be with her.

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Drawing from “Return To Oz” watercolour-pens at the age of about 15

At the beginning I thought I will not be able to keep up Working Beauty, but once the situation calmed down and I moved out of the shock state, I returned to what I know best with full force: funny cartoons. People say that most creativity comes from depression, sadness and despair …  hmmm that might be so and in my case I’d like to think that within that my art keeps me sane and actually cheerful.

My brain works overtime to think of those fantasy stories rather than spending too much time on the reality at hand. I know it is an escape too, but it’s helping. And I draw what I find funny (hoping that others do too). So basically I am cheering myself up by creating new funny stories.

I come to believe I am a very selfish individual…

That being said, I am even happier if you guys like what I put out! My heart beats faster with every comment I read from you! After all, if I can create more positive energy in my life, maybe a little of that ends up at your end too. That would be great.

So please keep on reading, enjoying. And do let me know what is your favorite escape plan from reality when you need it?

Cheers and hugs

Aldona

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