Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

‘A Gosling’ by Stuart Kolakovic

Posted on 26 March 2008 9 comments

Article illustration for A Gosling by Stuart Kolakovic

Over the Easter weekend, Sam and I visited a local art gallery, which was selling souvenirs from an affiliated gallery down the road; one that’s currently showing an independent comics exhibition (and one I hope to visit before we move). Among the books for sale was a small comic called ‘A Gosling’ – written and illustrated by Stuart Kolakovic – and it seemed the perfect subject for the second post in the Design Inspiration series.

When I say this comic book is small, I mean so in every sense of the word. Standing at a mere 102mm x 145mm and spanning only 16 pages (including dust jacket), it would not be unfair to call ‘A Gosing’ pocketsized. And I suppose that was the first thing that attracted me to it. That, and it’s ‘handmade’ aesthetic (something I’m rather fond of, as I’m sure you know by now). For the record, I don’t think it actually is handmade, but the binding has an almost hand-stitched look (I’m no binding expert – please fill in the appropriate term here) and the paper – although of a fairly heavy stock – has the sheen often given by a regular colour photocopying process.


The other thing that struck me was the aforementioned dust jacket. Just why would a 16 page, non-hardback comic need a dust jacket? Well no reason at all, as far as I can tell, but it really adds some ‘oomph’ to the whole package. Something that’s always fascinated me is when a designer goes to the trouble of printing on the ‘concealed’ covers of a book (as Stuart Kolakovic does) so that there’s a nice surprise waiting underneath the dust jacket for the reader who cares to take it off, peeling away the layers for more visual goodness. Phwoar! It’s like an erotic design fantasy…


Anyway, it hasn’t escaped my notice that I’ve been speaking exclusively about the outer, design-focused experience of the comic and have so far failed to address the illustration itself, which of course is the main draw. I won’t go far into this realm, since this is a blog series based on design, except to say that Stuart is one of those illustrators who truly is a designer as well (a rare breed). Basic layout principles are a prominent skillset in most comic book illustrators due to the nature of the medium, but they’re essential when you handle every single aspect of the process like this man does. His use of colour, too, is one to be admired, and it’s put to perfect use in the story-within-a-story section in the comic book’s centre spread.


A quick peak around the interwebs happily tells me that Stuart Kolakovic has a very competent website, a blog where he posts previews of upcoming projects, and an Etsy store where you and I can get our grubby little mitts on even more of his comics and prints. Get yourselves over there, readers – this man deserves our cash!

(If you’ve also read the first post in this series, you’ll notice that I’m already favouring print design as an inspiration. Hmmm… interesting. strokes beard Well, this is no accident, and at Future of Web Design in April, I’ll be talking about just how inspirational print design can be to us web folk.)


  1. Luke


    26 March 2008 @ 02:05PM #

    I’ve got that little bundle of fun as well :) Really top illustration work, i agree.

  2. Andrew


    26 March 2008 @ 02:29PM #

    What a great find. I rushed off my order for The Gosling after browsing around his site. ‘The Box’ short story is wonderful, I wonder if this is available anywhere.

  3. Kyle Meyer

    Kyle Meyer

    26 March 2008 @ 05:11PM #

    there’s a nice surprise waiting underneath the dust jacket for the reader who cares to take it off, peeling away the layers for more visual goodness. Phwoar! It’s like an erotic design fantasy…

    Quote of the day.

    I really like the pages using negative space to create the grid layout (in orange). Nice find.

  4. Chris


    27 March 2008 @ 12:57AM #

    Print work is and should always be a huge inspiration to any Web designer. There is a level of refinement (in print) not found on many Websites — although this is changing — albeit slowly.

    Anyhow, thanks for the find. Keep ’em coming.

  5. prisca


    27 March 2008 @ 01:17AM #

    what a nice find :)
    It is wonderful when you come across an exquisite piece like this – there just is something about print – tactile – perfect – and unique – always an inspiration of its own kind.

    thanks for sharing… :)

  6. Zinni


    27 March 2008 @ 01:41AM #


    I too have been looking towards print design for inspiration when approaching web projects lately. Each medium has their own set of limitations, however great print work makes you feel like their are none. Unfortunately I have not found a client yet that has picked my print based comps and have stayed towards the traditional web style instead. It has been a battle, however I intend to continue fighting it for the sake of evolving…

  7. rama


    01 April 2008 @ 11:25AM #

    and his blog is quite nice also. Seems like he likes natural colors, balanced with creative and great ideas for prints. Web design these makes it as natural and almost as free as print design..

  8. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    02 April 2008 @ 02:25PM #

    Stuart is also a top bloke – he sent me a present to say thanks for writing this article! :) Cheers Stuart!

  9. Matthew Dick

    Matthew Dick

    02 April 2008 @ 05:28PM #

    Will definitely give this a look.

    Elliot, if you want strong design in Comics have a look at Chris Ware. I remember you had a leaf through “Jimmy Corrignan” when I bought it for Rob for Christmas a few years back.

    I would highly recommend any of the Acme Novelty Library Books. Vol. 15 is a good place to start. (Most of the earlier material is hard to come by). You don’t need to have read prior volumes to appreciate what follows.

    Vol. 18 is also stunning. As always an absolute visual treat, with page layouts to dizzy even the most experienced of comics readers. Under all the vivid and painstakingly designed art, lies a very bleak tale indeed. Anyone who has felt isolated or alone will be able to relate to this. Human suffering is universal I suppose!

    He also did a lovely portfolio which is 18.5, material that appeared in the New Yorker.

    I think you’d enjoy his style.

© 2005 – 2014 Elliot Jay Stocks. All rights reserved. Powered by Harmony and tracked by Gaug.es. To keep updated with new content, you might like to subscribe to my RSS feed.