The art of storytelling

Denver artist uses comics to give snapshots of city life

Kailyn Lamb
klamb@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/8/20

Through a stretch of panels etched with thick black ink, Karl Christian Krumpholz is telling the stories of Denver as it grows and changes. Each drawing is a moment in time — the good, the bad and …

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The art of storytelling

Denver artist uses comics to give snapshots of city life

Posted

Through a stretch of panels etched with thick black ink, Karl Christian Krumpholz is telling the stories of Denver as it grows and changes. Each drawing is a moment in time — the good, the bad and the ugly — as Krumpholz navigates life on Colfax Avenue.

Most recently, his work was put on display on eight different banners stretched along the “wicked street.” The banners were commissioned by the Colfax Ave Business Improvement District for the organization’s 30th anniversary.

Each banner features different businesses of Colfax, some still around and others lost to time. Since moving here in 2003, Krumpholz says he has seen a lot of change in the city, something he wants to document using his art.

“It’s sad, but at the same time it’s the nature of a city to change,” he said. “A lot of my work in comics … is kind of about that.”

One of those changes is how expensive the city has gotten. Krumpholz said it can be hard for an artist to make a living solely on their work. Over the years, Krumpholz has built up a reputation and clientele in the city which allows him to do it.

But since costs have gone up in Denver, it means he can’t do it alone. Together, he and his wife are able to cover the costs. “If I was single, I wouldn’t be able to survive just on this,” he said, adding that many of his friends and neighbors have been pushed out of the Capitol Hill area.

Although these types of change in Denver have been a primary focus for his work, Krumpholz said that many of the same things apply to other cites. For his comics, Krumpholz looks at people living in cities of all kinds, and how that impacts them.

“I’m collecting stories of people’s experiences in the city,” he said. “These buildings have been here, these people have been here.”

Although his style of storytelling has evolved over time, Krumpholz said he has always been interested in comic-style art. He put out his first “zine” in the ‘90s.

Since moving to Denver, Krumpholz has been working on a weekly comic with Westword, documenting the music scene here in Denver. His project “30 Miles of Crazy” — named after Colfax — led to a six-page booklet with the city telling the story of a homeless woman.

For that particular project, Krumpholz said he interviewed around 15 people living in homeless shelters in Denver. He added that he wants to be sure that his homeless subjects are treated just like everyone else. “I would like to hear what they had to say,” he said of their stories.

Although the Denver project only allowed him to write the story of one of the women he interviewed, Krumpholz said he is looking to expand on the work as a personal piece. Since he is no longer working for the city, Krumpholz added that he’s not restricted by any rules.

“My next big project is to take the other 10 or so stories and do their narratives,” he said. “I can be utterly honest with the things they said.”

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