Michael Wm. Kaluta
With Pen & Brush
By Howard Leroy Davis

The Menomonee Falls Gazette
Vol. 4 Number 171  March 24, 1975
The “Resident Hippie”. That’s what Mike Kaluta’s pals call him. He’s supposed to be an object
of ridicule... someone to whom they can feel superior. They...Berni Wrightson and Howie Chaykin,
in this instance...said it while I was doing the interview session. They said it and Mike seemed to
concur. Personally, I don’t believe it. (And I think the group was busily pulling the leg of an outsider...
namely me.)
Mike had given me a metaphor in an earlier conversation to describe his relationship to his fellow
artists. If they were to be the “Kings of Comics”, he saw himself as the “Court Jester”. That role
seems ingrained in Mike Kaluta. An ironic sense of humor pervades his conversation and his work.
Sometimes, he's a bit hard to understand because he speaks with his tongue thrust far into his cheek.
I watched Mike criticizing the work of a young fan-artist at the July Con. The teenager asked for a
constructive comment and got it. I was struck with the thought that Mike could well serve as a teacher.
When I mentioned the idea to him, he put it down quickly. “No, I can’t enjoy teaching. And I won’t
teach because I won’t say that I’m right and someone else is wrong...” And, of course, a teacher
should be able to do so when it’s necessary in the teaching process.
When we talked of technique, Mike Kaluta told me that he works somewhat differently in different
subject areas. He compared some science fiction comic pages he had done with his Shadow work.
The desire to portray greater detail is the real divider. In his sci-fi work, he works on 3-ply plate finish
Strathmore board with 75% of the finished art comprised of pen lines. His Shadow work is 75% brush
strokes on 3-ply Kidde finish board. Mike’s brushes are Windsor-Newton series 7 #00 through #4
like most everyone else’s. His pens are ordinary crow quills and hawk quills; again a typical choice.
Mike uses a mixed ink for his work; Pelikan with some Higgins mixed into it. He works intuitively
on the final board. No special composition systems. No layouts on separate paper.
He can pencil one page a day and can ink 2 a day although at times he says that he becomes too
self-indulgent and ends up taking a week to ink one page. His favorite series to date was Carson of
Venus. Since Carson is apparently now a dead number, I hope we see lots of Mike Kaluta’s work in
the “Black Pearl” series that he’s supposed to write as well as draw for Seaboard.

Editor’s Note As this article was written some time ago, the information about his forthcoming work
may be outdated. We are unaware of any plans for a Black Pearl character appearance at Atlas
Comics.  MT