Art

Local Graphic Artist Seeks to Kickstart a Cyberpunk Existentialist Tale into the Real World

“I have always been a fan of storytelling in all forms and think that sequential storytelling is a unique and exciting way to weave a tale,” says Cary Polkovitz. “My parents gave my brother and I these hardbound volumes of the classic Batman and Superman comics and that hooked me. After that it was comics of all kinds, mostly superhero to begin with, but science fiction and fantasy were way up there.”

Polkovitz has been a resident of South Florida for a little over a decade. After an art-oriented education at the high school level, Polkovitz studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he worked with illustration greats like Donn Albright, David Passacqua, and George Pratt who had recently finished the graphic novel Enemy Ace. During his time at Pratt, Polkovitz would coauthor with C. Brent Ferguson the indie comic NAU Headhunter that ran for three issues in early 1993.

Upon completion of his studies at Pratt, Polkovitz path to comic greatness was off to an auspicious beginning with an internship at Marvel Comics in New York City. He got his first taste of professional life when he illustrated the strip Miss Adventure for Penthouse Comix in the early 90s.

"I think graphic novels give storytellers a less constrained way to tell a story."

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But then, Polkovitz's comic career took a bit of a detour when he took a teaching position.


“After teaching art in a Brooklyn Catholic school for a year I found that my finances were not really jiving successfully with the living expenses in the big city so, with family already down here, I decided that this would be a pretty good place to try out for a while,” he says of his relocation to South Florida. “A while turned into years and several jobs and then, happily I hooked up with the ‘low-brow’ art community and found enough confidence to re-try the comic book route. And, well, here I am.”

Now on the cusp of finally realizing his 20-year-plus comic ambitions via a Kickstarter campaign, Polkovitz is continuing the saga of his work Who is the Girl with an ambitious companion work, UKIYO/Genius Loci, a 12 issue comic topping out at 500 pages of full-color art.

Combining elements of noir, cyberpunk, and the tradition of Japanese ukiyo-e with literary concepts has created a rich tapestry from which Polkovitz has allowed his story to develop from. Ukiyo-e is genre of art the concept of “pictures of the floating world” developed during the Edo Period (1615-1868) and incidentally tied to the current tattoo exhibit at the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach. 

Who is the Girl was initially meant to be a bit of a teaser for UKIYO/Genius Loci but kind of took on a life of its own," says Polkovitz. "It focuses almost entirely on the character of The Girl from the comic book and the world she lives in. It brings to life the time and place she is in as well as introduces other concepts and storylines that I couldn’t get to in the final comic series.”

He has continued the narrative via a weekly web comic that has begun to run in tandem with the campaign.

“I think graphic novels give storytellers a less constrained way to tell a story. Where comic books tend to be episodic like a television show, a graphic novel tends to be more cinematic or literary. A self-contained story, not a continuous arc.”

But it is also a monumental task to undertake, hence the Kickstarter. Some of the pledge perks include digital copies of the book, a nifty pill-shaped flash drive containing the book plus additional art and related materials; higher packages include original art as well as a one-of-a-kind custom skate deck piece with decoupaged artwork from the comic and web series.

“I have always felt that sequential art is just another wonderful and unique form of storytelling with the same merits as any other method,” reflects Polkovitz. “As far as how the rest of the art and literary circles feel about it, I suppose the fact that seasoned novelists and recognized illustrators have entered the fray over the past 20-odd years lends it some critical merit, but I think it has always had a place in the hierarchy of storytelling.”

Polkovitz will be making an appearance at Tate’s, 4566 N. University Drive, Lauderhill on Saturday, March 19 between 1 and 4 p.m. to promote the Kickstarter campaign. While nearing its original target of $3000, there’s a perks contingency if it reaches the four and five thousand marks – a mere pittance for bringing a two-decade-long work of love to life. To support Polkovitz's campaign, visit kickstarter.com.

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Abel Folgar