This is the official history webpage of the company created by the artist known as RAK, (Robert A. Kraus).
The 38-year-old spends most weekends traveling to conventions. This weekend, it will be a short ride from his home on Thornton Street to the University of Akron's Neovention, a gaming convention being held today through Sunday in the Gardner Student Center.
'Is this crazy?'
There, he will show off his latest creation, a trading card board game called Dragon War. In a sense, the game was inspired by the wildly popular Magic: The Gathering, a rather complicated fantasy game.
But Kraus was inspired not to create something like Magic, rather to make something different. Dragon War is more in the vein of Monopoly or Risk.
Unlike Magic, there is no role-playing. Players simply roll a die and move according to instructions on the cards. "A board game with cool art,'' is Kraus' description. "A beer and pretzels game,'' adds Eric Kemphfer, an artist who worked on the cards with Kraus.
"The idea came to me in a dream,'' Kraus explains. He knows that sounds silly, but remember, Kraus has a wide circle of advisers.
"Is this crazy?'' he asked those guys who mill around RAK Graphics.
"Not at all,'' they replied.
Whatever talents Kraus possesses, his greatest is the rare ability to blend the sensibilities of an artist with the common sense of a businessman. He credits Tim Bean, who helps with advertising and promotion, for helping keep his affairs in order, but he does much of the work himself.
He is an aggressive marketer of his work, and he augments his income with money from several rental properties and from teaching martial arts in his home gym. He also teaches continuing education classes at the University of Akron and hosts one-day art seminars.
"If I look at everything I do,'' he says, ``I want to be the best I can be.''
He lives, he says, by the Renaissance ideal -- to be physically, mentally and spiritually strong. He trains with weights in the mornings, works on art in the afternoons. On Wednesday nights, he hosts an informal gathering of artists and writers, mostly young people who come to learn at the feet of this underground master. They seem to flock to Kraus.
They want to be like him.
To be like him is to understand the do-it-yourself ethic. Kraus was raised in inner-city Akron. People like him, he says, didn't become artists. They didn't become businessmen. But he was not people like him. He studied drawing at Central-Hower High School and got a job with Quikey Manufacturing, which makes advertising items like key chains and refrigerator magnets. The company produced some of the game parts for Dragon War. But he was already developing a dream that began with the first homemade Thundermace books. A fan of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.G. Wells, the young Kraus wanted to be a writer.
"But you keep hearing about starving writers. I thought I'd rather be a starving artist,'' he says.
Now that he has figured out how to be the other kind of artist, the one who makes a decent living, Kraus is looking in new directions. He has expanded into wildlife drawings and is working on a children's book. He always wants to be doing something new.
Because forever is a long, long time.
Featured in the Akron Beacon Journal on Friday, March 20, 1998. Written by David Giffels.
Feel free to e-mail me and let me know what you think, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
241 and 243 Thornton St. were the two inner city properties where RAK GRAPHICS started out.
I have a few of these available at $10.00 ea. click on this link to order:
RAKBK001 - ALIENS OF THE COSMOS - $10.00
My very first publication, limited to only 500 copies and signed by me Rick Sellers and Jim Groman
I also have a few of these available at $10.00 ea. click on this link to order:
RAKBK002 - STRAIGHT FROM THE SKETCHBOOK - $10.00
My second publication, again limited to 500 copies, featured my favorite theme, whimsical monsters!
I also have a few of these available at $10.00 ea. (this is a SUPER DEAL!!!) click on this link to order:
RAKBK003 - RAK GRAPHICS: A collectors edition - $10.00
This book, limited to 2,000 copies, features key stories for all the RAK characters I was publishing then, as well as stories from other characters like BUCE-N-GAR that my friend Jim Groman was drawing. CHAKANs origin, in verse form, my original writing of the character, is also included
This book RAK #1, features a lot of my artwork, including my concept work for the CHAKAN SEGA video game.
RAKBK004 - RAK #1 - $10.00
Here are some early newspaper articles and the good friends who have helped me over the years.
The signed EXECUTIONER #1 at $10.00 ea. (this was a 1-shot story that has a intense vibe to it) click on this link to order:
RAKBK005 - The EXECUTIONER - $10.00
The EXECUTIONER was a one-shot book with a very unique feel to it. I still love the cover!
Heres the post apocalyptic hero STEPHEN DARKLORD series I created. It ran for three issuesand was a lot of fun.
RAKBK006 - STEPHEN DARKLORD #1- $10.00
RAKBK007 - STEPHEN DARKLORD #2 - $10.00
RAKBK008 - STEPHEN DARKLORD #3 - $10.00
Here are some other books from the RAK time machine vault! Buce n Gar was done by the talented Jim Groman, and the Dragon of the Valkyr was a series created by a good friend of mine Steve Simshauser!!!
RAKBK009 - BUCE N' GAR #1 - $10.00
RAKBK010 - BUCE N' GAR #2 - $10.00
RAKBK011 - DRAGON VALKYR #1 - $10.00