Comic book dream fulfilled

‘Test Tube’ creator is set to release his third installment
Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:45 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

When Scott Ziolko was growing up, he wanted to become a dinosaur hunter, an astronaut or a comic book artist. He said his family supported his childhood dreams but never thought he’d actually chase one of them.

Ziolko’s obsession with comic books has turned into a career, albeit a sideline at this point. On Wednesday, he releases his third comic book in a four-part miniseries.

It took Ziolko, 25, of Columbia, six months to come up with characters and plan the story line for his comic books. He laughed, remembering the times when he would think of an idea and do a rough thumbnail sketch in between flipping burgers at the Heidelberg. Ziolko said he was too busy working and looking for another job to think seriously about his comic art hobby.

A passion for comic books, a new job and a lot of coaxing from his wife and friends finally encouraged him to take his sketches to the next level and put them in a comic book.

“It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do but needed to put on the back-burner because of other things going on,” Ziolko said. “Now I have the chance to do something I really love.”

He has since spent time perfecting his story ideas and drawing sketches for “Test Tube,” the four-part miniseries. Ziolko said taking more time to work on the series has allowed him to be more creative.

“It’s such a unique way of storytelling,” he said. “I’ve realized that I can do anything with comic books, like choose how to bring together the story line and art in order to manipulate what someone will read and see. I’ve changed a few things since I’ve started, but I think it’s evolved really well.”

The comic books feature two college-age male characters who “start their adventure with a night on the town and end up in a fight for the fate of the entire world.” A strong female character gets them into and out of trouble along the way, said Ziolko.

In the first “Test Tube,” characters 3D and Lewis are having a guys’ night out when they meet a mysterious and attractive woman named Mo. Mo disappears, leaving Lewis without any other choice but to follow his quirky friend 3D, who insists on searching for the lost love of his life. In “Test Tube No. 2,” 3D and Lewis are still in search of Mo. When they find her, the duo soon realizes they have gotten themselves in over their heads. Ziolko sells his comic books for $1.50 at Rock Bottom Comics, 1029 E. Walnut St. An independent publisher, Ziolko said he appreciates the support he has gotten from comic book junkies and from first-time readers.

“The people at Rock Bottom Comics have shown definite confidence in my cartoon art,” Ziolko said.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Glenn Brewer, Rock Bottom owner, hunched over a counter scattered with comic book titles and inventory sheets. Wednesday is “new coming book day,” and Brewer was sorting and displaying the comics for the couple of hundred customers who anticipate their arrival.

Brewer said many of his customers are awaiting “Test Tube No. 3.”

“Scott has really done a good job with his comic books. The drawings are fairly consistent and the story lines have depth,” Brewer said. “A lot of people come in asking about his comic books.”

Ziolko plans to attend a comic book convention in Chicago in August. Ziolko wants to sell the series to comic book readers and prospective editors, who he hopes will give more feedback about the quality of his story lines and art.

With more adventures for “Test Tube” already in mind, Ziolko said he wants to continue to create comic books. He would also like to write about more serious topics and experiment with genres.

“I think I have a story to tell, and I think people enjoy it. Finding out they do encourages me,” he said. “It’s pure bliss to see the pages come together and to have people tell me they enjoy my stuff. It’s definitely as good as it gets.”

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