In celebration of the pre-order launch for Fair Spark Books’ first chapter book, LITTLE TOE IN THE QUEST FOR WARMTH, special guest MIKE DABROWSKI shares his own superhero origin story, the inspiration behind his work and offers advice to up-and-coming creators!
I was born in Koszalin, Poland 1981. My father is a retired art teacher and artist, so from a very early age I had access to art and creative knowledge. He is also my first and biggest influence and role model, as well as a supporter and a fan. When I was a bit older I discovered Disney and Looney Toons cartoons, especially those directed by Chuck Jones, which taught me about facial and body expressions. I always loved cartoons, comics, books and movies and I knew I wanted to be an illustrator or comic book artist even before I knew what that meant. Later I found inspiration in the work of comic book artists like Uderzo (Asterix), Rosinski (Thorgal, Shninkiel), Bisley (Lobo), Serpieri (Druuna) and many others but my favorite artist and my idol is Leonardo da Vinci.
I studied graphic design and visual communication at a design institute in Koszalin. After graduating with a masters degree I moved to Edinburgh, where I’ve been living and working for last eleven years.
I created Little Toe years ago, without any specific purpose at first, just as an exercise in character design. At first it was supposed to be some kind of Chupacabra, and later has been changed into a Bigfoot. Little Toe’s design hasn’t really changed from first draft, although I have softened his features and made him more child-friendly and cuddly. I didn’t have a story for him at first, but I knew he was supposed to be an all-ages story character. Then inspiration came from real life. I live in Edinburgh, which is for the most time wet and cold, the weather gets through to your bones. One day I was trying to get warm in many different ways (putting a sweater on, using a blow dryer to warm myself) but nothing really worked.
Then, my now ex-girlfriend hugged me, and I felt warm and happy inside. At that moment I knew this is the main theme for the story to tell. The warmth that love brings. That is my favourite moment from this story because it is the most personal and real.
After this I had a purpose for this character, so I started to draw some illustrations. I had a vague arc of the story, but my main focus was on the illustrations as I’m an illustrator first and writing was never my strongest suit. It all happened at the same time, I made the story and the story influenced the illustrations. Although it didn’t take too long to finish the whole book, I knew I already liked the character enough for more stories to be told about him and his friends. I have ideas for at least two or three more.
In my career so far, I have worked on some comics and other books, but my dream project would be to make a comic book based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s life or one of Terry Pratchett’s books.
If there is anything I could tell to upcoming illustrators and authors it is to never give up. Follow your heart and practice, practice, practice to master your craft. Learn from the best, always thrive to be better. You never know where the inspiration will come from, so be open to the world, experiences, people and dreams. There are stories and inspiration everywhere. Always be thankful for people close to you, like family and friends who support, help, and encourage you to never give up.
For anybody who want to see more of my work, I invite you to see my Facebook or Instagram at
Meet Little Toe, a fun-loving Sasquatch who saw no wrong in spending the summer lazing in the sun and chasing pretty bugs! Well… at least until the chilly, wet autumn crept upon him. Now, an unprepared Little Toe must stay warm by venturing more deeply into the forest than he ever has before! Prepare yourself for a heart-warming tale full of humorous magical encounters and friendship-fuelled fun!