March ain’t so Mad—(The Imperial Reach of Blink!)

Good news everyone! March of 2012 is shaping up to be a “banner month” for me and Blink!

We’ve got the gallery show going on at Wild Goose (this Thursday is the Gallery Night Reception!).  I’ve had a few articles about me & the comic appear in (614) magazine and the OSU Lantern and I’m hoping for more. (not expecting, but hoping!)  I just received word that Blink: So Far got 2nd Place in the "General Category” for the 2011 SPACE Prize!  And to round out the month of awesomesauceness, I ordered the initial batch of copies of “Wonka Wonka Kochalka” and they’re expected to arrive at my doorstep on March 26th. (Which happens to be my mother’s 75th birthday) Smile 

If I wasn’t so busy working on all sorts of comic book/gallery stuff that needs to get done ASAP, I’d totally make a cute sketch of Blink in a Darth Vader helmet.

The Pen Is Mightier…

(This blog post is dedicated to the hundreds of comic book letters columns that I read and enjoyed but never wrote in to and the handful of ones that I did)

I don’t buy serialized comics these days. I wait until I can read the completed story from beginning to end and, as a result, I have four bookcases full of graphic novels (both original GNs and trade paper back collections of comic books). Like most good old-time geeks, I also have comics stored away in longboxes (four of them, coincidentally); old comics that I have either not yet to get rid of or will never get rid of.  One of the cool things about those serialized comics that I’m missing out on is the letters columns. There are still some comics that have letters columns (like  Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo and NIX Comics Quarterly, edited by Ken Eppstein), but I think a lot of readers letters have been relegated to message boards, Facebook pages and blog comment sections. “So it goes.”

Like the others, I use Facebook and Twitter and this blog/website to keep in touch with readers of Blink, and I’m grateful for the feedback I receive, the comments, the “likes” and the retweets are all very nice. But you know what I’d love more of?

Letters.

I’d love to get more letters.

Letters akin to those old school fanboy / fangirl ones that appeared in Marvel or DC comics.

And do you know what? I want to PRINT those letters in the Blink comic books. I’ve done that in the past way back when I was printing the Blink books as photocopied digest books, but as Facebook and Twitter have grown, the length and substance of letters of comment have dwindled. I’m not harping on the lack of input from people who read and love Blink, but FB comments like  “Cool!” and “Love it!!! XD” aren’t really going to make for interesting reading in a letters column. PSI Logo copy

Now, I’m not asking for this as an ego boost kind of thing. What I’m looking for is a way to incorporate the community of Blink readers into the Blink books themselves. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and I even have a name for the letters column: PLATONIC SOCIAL INTERCOURSE. The plan is to have a 3-page PSI letters column in the individual chapters (more pages if I get enough letters), along with my usual Creatorial and Sketchbookery / Story Notes sections.

I have a couple of letters in the PSI queue right now, but I’d like a few more.  You can either send me a letter through postal mail, email, FB, or use this contact form.

To give you a taste of what you can expect to see, here’s a sample of what will appear in WWK:


I often go out and about to work on drawing Blink—usually at a library or a coffee shop. So long as wherever I am is well lit and not too busy, I can get my work done. I like the flow of people around me while I work, and most of the time I am left to my own devices.

However, being as I am creating art in a public place, from time to time there are people will notice me and notice what I’m doing and maybe take a passing glance or proffer a comment or question. Typically, I will explain what I’m doing (making comics) and ask the person if they read any comics. I’d estimate that half of the time the answer is “no” (which I appreciate) and the other half is '”yes” (which I love). Whether or not they read comics, I offer them a free Blink mini comic and autograph it with a sketch as a sign of appreciation for their interest.

There are times when their interest in my work is a step above curious and that’s when I offer them a copy of BLINK: SO FAR. (I keep a few stashed in my backpack for such occasions.) There have been times when people have bought the book on the spot (which is awesome) and other times when they decline (which is understandable). On a few occasions, the people are genuinely enthusiastic about the book, but have no funds with them. And so I give them the book—with the mutual understanding that they’ll pay me when they can.

On a recent afternoon, while working on Blink at Stauf’s Coffee House in Grandview Heights, I struck up a conversation with a pleasant young lady, Norah who noticed my work.  Although the chat was brief (she’s a freshman at OSU and had homework to finish), she was one of those people who was “a step above curious” and a lover of comics, which prompted me to give her a copy of BLINK: SO FAR.

Later that evening, I received an email like none I had ever gotten before--

Dear Max Ink,

I cannot tell you how happy I am to have met you at Stauf’s! It was really the most wonderful timing and I want to tell you why. Somehow, over the past few months, I have found myself in this ugly depressed state. It is the most unusual thing. I've always been very happy, and curious, and quietly silly, but lately, it's been hard to keep hold of these innate Norah qualities. I have felt very alone because I have known no one else who thinks like me, until this evening when I met Blink. Without a doubt, “Blink” is the loveliest comic in all the world. Reading it has given me a revitalized sense of self, which I really needed at this time. Please allow me to pay you back for the book.

Wishing you all the best,
Norah

You know what, Norah? There are lots of times when I feel the same way about the comic, and I create it. Thank you so much for your letter—your response is one of the key reasons why I write and draw Blink. It is my sincerest wish that you find some people with whom you can relate to in a mutually understanding way. However, as a supplement, I’m happy to continue making this “loveliest comic in the world” for you and anyone else who’s interested.


So…

That’s the sort of letter writing  and response that I’m wanting for Blink’s Platonic Social Intercourse letter column. Of course, I don’t expect `em all to be that naked and heartfelt—but I’d love honest letters, thoughtful letters, letters written with sincerity and curiosity.

Or jokes.  That’d be nice, too.

Spring Cleaning (in the late Autumn)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been rocking through pages of comic book art like nobody’s business.  I had mentioned that I was planning on getting 3.5 pages complete per week.  That was November 21--eleven days ago (1.43 weeks); or about 5 pages ago.  Since then, I’ve put down over seven new pages. Yowza.  If I keep up at this pace, I’ll get the whole shebang done before the new year (it’s not going to happen).

Anyhow… being as I had a little “free time” on my hands (and oodles of energy), I spent a few hours yesterday digging through my cluttered studio and tossing out loads of stuff.  In the process of digging/tossing, I happened upon some old Blink-related artifacts.  Many of which have never seen the light of day outside of my (no-longer-quite-so-cluttered) studio.  So here’s a little treat for any of you long-time readers… the rough layouts for the first story that appears in BLINK: SO FAR, back when the chapter was titled “Don’t Leaf Nostalgia Behind.”  Ugh.

You can expect more updates like these here and, if you friend me on FB, or “like” the Blink FB page,  you can see even more “mini” updates & sneak peeks of new stuff (as well as some cool old stuff). 

Heck—here’s a double panel “secret Blink history” sneak peek from page 12 (I’m currently working on page 17).  Even though I’m a non-smoker, I like it when I can have Sam smoking.  There’s something to be said for how a character can express themselves with a cigarette that accentuates their thoughts/emotions.  And drawing the wispy trail of smoke is cool, too.

12 WWK - [panels 3-4]

What’s Goin’ On

Over the weekend, I spent some time making my plans for next year, which different conventions & events I’ll be attending, what books I’ll be publishing and how much time it will take me to create those books (it will take a lot of time), when I’m scheduling my vacations from work and a few other odds and ends.  After doing that, I thought to myself, “It’s about time I update my blog.” 

So—here I am. How’ve you been?

I’ve been relatively busy: working on a project for an anthology that has nothing at all to do with Blinkand won’t be published by me (it’s a professional-type-thing).  I don’t know how much detail I can provide here before the book gets closer to publication date (sometime later next year), so I’ll just say that it’s sort of a documentary-type thing about Walt Whitman and the entire book will be in full color.  Since I don’t feel confident (at all) with my skills as a colorist, I did the whole thing in grey scale and then “switched” it to Sepia Tone.  I think it worked out pretty well and I learned a few new things about myself, my abilities and the tools I use to make comics. 

It also pushed me to complete a project by a set deadline.  I’ve had deadlines before, but this was the first one that I had set before me after I had signed a binding contract.  (Although, I don’t know if it was notarized.)  As a result, I stepped up my game a bit more and took the production a lot more seriously.  Not that I don’t take the creation of my own comics seriously, it’s more the production of my comics that remains amorphous. 

Anyway, the bottom line is that I’ve got that project done and now I’m going to use the stuff I learned from that experience and step up my game on the production of Blink.  Looking over the last few blog entries, I see that I began working on “Wonka Wonka Kochalka,” the first chapter of the BLINK: SO IT GOES graphic novel, way back in July.  I worked on it on & off for a few months, but had a difficult time staying on track.  (Gee, that’s never happened before.)

Now I am back on track.   And I know what I need to do in order to turn my dreams into a coherent, cohesive & consistent reality.  I want to see my second graphic novel--which looks like it’s going to be over 400 pages long--completed as soon as possible.  If I were Stan Sakai, or maybe Dave Sim in his prime, I could probably knock out 400 pages in about two years, but I am not that nimble of a writer/artist.  Heck, it took me SEVEN years to write & draw BLINK: SO FAR, and that was less than 90 pages!  But I think I can do So It Goes in FIVE years.  I believe that I can actually write and draw about 90-100 pages per year ( which works out to be three chapters per year).  About 3 weeks writing (and rewriting) and laying out each 30+ page chapter, then about 10 weeks for drawing/scanning and finally, 1 week to format it for printing.  That works out to be 14 weeks per chapter, with about three weeks leeway per chapter to allow for real-life stuff, conventions, psychological melt-downs, etc..

So, if I want to get these chapters completed as quickly as I am capable, when I’m in those intense 10-week periods of drawing each chapter, Hank at Wild Goose CreativeI need to complete at least 3.5 pages every week.  That means that I need to spend about 35 hours a week (and sometimes more) working on Blink (that’s in addition to my regular job, which I work close to 25/week).  I know that I’m capable of devoting that much time to creating comics, since that’s what I had to do towards the end of my Walt Whitman project.  It’s just a matter of staying focused and keeping myself away from distractions.  (This darned computer is one of those blasted distractions.  Good thing I do a lot of my work by hand!)

Hmm.

I think I had more that I wanted to write about, but I’m kinda jazzed about the tracks I’ve laid down for myself, so I’m gonna start chugging away.  Hopefully, I’ll make more stops here on this blog along the way and share what’s going on.  However, if you want more regular updates (albeit shorter ones), go ahead and friend me on Facebook and “like” Blink’s FB page. 

And lastly, I’m working up a “Buddies of Blink” email newsletter thing that will come out on a sorta monthly schedule and feature special stuff that will be for members of B.O.B. only, so send me a note to sign up for that.

Whelp—back to work!

So It Comes

Over the past few months, my posts here have been few but that's not because I haven't had anything to post about. No my friends, I have not been idle. I have been hard at work planning/ structuring/ figuring out/ composing/ writing and (finally) DRAWING the next incarnation of Blink after So Far.

During the seven years I spent creating what ended up being So Far, I had no idea what I was doing. I had a vague concept of what I thought I wanted, but no concrete construct or definitive plan. As a result, I spent a lot more time lost, uncertain of what the best direction was for me to go and just generally fumbling around (mostly in my own head). I did that about 70% of the time--rather than actually creating. It was like I wandering on the side of some huge, fog enshrouded mountain with no map, no lantern and no clue. But when So Far finally came into existence in March, I was able to see the fruits of my labors all at once. I had reached the mountaintop and could see the arduous path I had traveled. I was able to get my bearings and plan out my path for climbing the next mountain (which I can see a lot clearer).

So, that's what I've been doing for the past two months, planning and actually working on that next journey in Blink. So It Goes is what it is-- the follow-up to So Far...and it's gonna be awesome! There are 13 chapters which will be published on a quarterly basis* and I figure when it's all said and done the entire book will be over 350 pages! That's right-- the next Blink graphic novel is going to be over three times as long as the last one. If all goes well, I will have the So It Goes completed in time for Christmas, 2014.

Check this out (spoilers): in the first chapter, which is titled “Wonka Wonka Kochalka,” I'll be introducing three characters who were mentioned in the free Blink mini-comic Let It Be As It Is, and they're going to be major players in this new novel. I'll also be weaving in bits of story/conversation that were mentioned in the very first Blink story “Poetic Pop” (published in 2003) and in “A Brief Hopeless Case” (which was first published in 2006) AND we'll find out a hefty bit more about Blink's cartooning gig(s).

In the coming weeks, I'll be posting images from WWK (right now, it's a mass of scribbles and notes). But that's enough for now. I need to get back to the drawing board.

 

*Chapter one will be published in August 2011, but I have to hold off on chapter 2 because I have another assignment that has nothing to do with Blink but is uber cool and will be in color and I can't say anything more about it publicly (yet). So chapter 2 will be published in January 2012, and chapter 3 in April, chapter 4 in July and so on...

 

BLINK: SO FAR 7-Hour Tour on High

 Join Max Ink as he celebrates the publication of his critically acclaimed graphic novel, BLINK: SO FAR at 3 different venues in one day--

The festivities kick off in Clintonville

at the comic shoppe of choice

The Laughing Ogre

4258 N. High St from 3p-5p


Then, Max will set up in the Short North

with plenty of delicious Sundaes

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

714 N. High St from 6p-8p



The evening concludes just north of OSU

with a multitude of tasty caffeinated beverages at

Kafé Kerouac

2250 N. High St from 8:30p-10p


~~~

Books and art prints will be available for sale

with a percentage of all monies made donated to the

HERO INITIATIVE 

And, of course, all through this one-day seven hour whirlwind mini tour,

autographs and sketches will pour out from Maximilian's inky pens!

RSVP at the FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE!

Reviewers and Retailers

Last week I sent out a bunch of Blink: So Far for reviewing at various blog sites (along with a select few comp copies to industry professionals-- such as Mr. Sim-- creator of Cerebus and long-time Blink/Ink supporter, who tops the pile). 

This week those seeds have borne sweet fruit-- the first few reviews have been posted!  On Monday, Justin Giampaoli over at 13 Minutes posted his response to seeing Blink for the first time (thanks to Ryan Claytor for giving me the tip to send Justin a copy!).  A choice quote or two:

"Ink populates the strips with the type of worldly observation that exists not merely for the sake of itself, but in the tradition of the best alternative comics. These human interactions explore the world around us in an effort to better understand our current social condition."  and  "The greatest strength of this creator in my opinion is his gift for the artistry of expressions and panel composition. The figure work, most notably the facial features, is in a space inhabited by craftsmen like Terry Moore or Carla Speed McNeil."  HEE!  Is that awesome or what?

The second review was posted by a long time reader/reviewer of mine, Johanna Draper Carlson on her Comics Worth Reading site.  In 2008, she provided me with one of my all-time fave quotes and this time around, she serves up another nugget of sweetness:

"(Blink: So Far is) a wonderful slice-of-what-I-wish-my-life-was-like. The friendship is rare and special, something to envy and aspire to, and they’re intelligent, insightful people. Even when I disagree with them about their opinions, it’s nice to have had the encounter."  I get a lump in my throat when I read that.

I can hardly wait to see what words of wonder (or wariness) will materialize in the days to come! 

~~

While last week was the initial push to get the book reviewers, this week I began invading the comic shop retailers.  A couple of weeks ago, I made some phone calls to double-check my list of indie friendly shops in order to: a) introduce myself, b) be sure that they were still in business, c) determine that the address I had was correct and d) establish who the contact person was that I'd be dealing with for each store.

I continued that process again this week and finally began shipping out sample copies of the book to prospective retailers (there are well over 50 shops that might be interested in carrying Blink).  Although Brian Hibbs/Comix Experience tops the pile, there are quite a few shops that I really, really hope decide to carry the book.  I dropped off a backpack full of envelopes stuffed with Blink: So Fars and introductory letters.  I'll also be sending out emails to those reatilers to let them know the books are on their way.  

The only sucky thing about these retail shop mailings is that I've run dangerously low on my initial stock pile of books and have had to order another print run.  The book's a POD, and since I'm not a rich man and don't have the cash to shell out major league bucks at one time in order to warehouse thousands of (unsold) copies of the book in my apartment, that means I shell out minor league bucks a little at a time and keep only a "meager" supply of dozens of copies on hand in my humble abode. 

I'm hopeful that these mailings generates interest in the book and, ultimately, more sales and new readers. 

Only time will tell.

A Proud Papa

So, just a few minutes ago, I heard the UPS truck pull up in front of my house and saw the delivery guy walk up the steps to my apartment.  (It was Tim, with whom I used to work, way back before he was a driver and worked inside the Trabue Rd. Hub-- which is where I toil away on the weekday evenings in order to afford being an artist during the day.)

Tim was gracious enough to pose for these photos.

 

So, I brought the bundle of joy inside and set it down on the living room futon.  50 copies of BLINK: SO FAR are now mine to sell this weekend at the Gem City Comic Con (and send out to reviewers to help generate some buzz)!  Joy! Oh, sweet JOY! 

Of course, anyone can buy a copy right now at my personalized Blink So Far store with a 10% discount (enter GNKDY5CA in the "Discount Code" box in the bottom right) or buy it on Amazon (where you can review it, like one person has already done)!

And, nearly simultaniously-- my first online & "official" review was posted!  (No disrespect to Elizabeth and her poetic and kind words) Check out what Wolfgang Parker has to say about BLINK: SO FAR at the Comic Related website!  A few choice quotes:

Max Ink is a solid sequentialist. His black and white line art stands firmly on its own, perfect as it is.

and

"BLINK" is a perfect book for those of us in the American counterculture looking for a way to get back to those in-between times; those days when our freedom was new, our responsibilities too fresh to take too seriously, and our hunger was for experience.

Options in buying BLINK: SO FAR (the bottom line)

Thanks for your interest in purchasing my graphic novel, Blink: So Far!  

At this point in time (early April) I'm working on making the book available for sale to comic book specialty shops around America and the world.   Being as how it's not offered in any official distribution channels, I'm setting it up shop by shop.  At present, there are only a few shops that carry the book-- and if your in the vacinity of either of these shops, I encourage you to buy it from them.

Online, however, there are two ways in which you can buy the book (and your choice in the matter affects how much money I receive in royalties):

  • The first option-- the one that I assume most readers/buyers will choose, is purchasing the book via Amazon.com. If you've ever purchased anything from Amazon, the process is pretty self explainatory.  I buy a LOT of stuff from Amazon (books, movies, music, etc) and have yet to be disappointed in their service.  No harm to me or disrespect to you if you choose this option. (Whether you chose to use Amazon or not, please do me a favor and write a review of the book and be sure to "like" the book, too!)
  • The second option-- the path less travelled, is purchasing the book through my CreateSpace page.  The set-up might seem unfamiliar, but please don't let that bother you-- CreateSpace is owned by Amazon.com. So, ordering it through CreateSpace is very much like ordering it through Amazon.  

The big difference between which option you choose is how much of a royalty I receive from your purchase.  Here's the bottom line: I receive 66% more revenue when the book is purchased through CreateSpace.  Like I said-- you're free to choose whichever option feels right to you and that's totally all right with me.  Either way you choose, I'll make money and you'll get a Blink book delivered to your door in a timely fashion.  So in the end, we booth win and that's mighty damn cool from my perspective.

 

 

The First Review is In!

 

My friend, Daryn Guarino posted this photo and wrote the following on my Facebook Wall:

Got home from SPACE with a ton to read. Plowed through the pile, but didn't find "Blink: So Far". Hmmm. I knew I had it, but it wasn't in my box, it wasn't in my van, and the kids didn't have it. What happened to it? Today the book appeared on my desk with a note from my wife, Elizabeth.

 

Then, after my thanking Elizabeth for the note (and thanking Daryn as well), Elizabeth replied:

I really did - and I'm not at all an informed initiate of the comic world. I liked Sam, loved Blink, and am sure I've met Hank at Goodale Park somewhere in my travels! I LOVED the Columbus landmark sketches. I also really enjoyed both the introduction (don't remember the guy's name who wrote it, but I loved his message), and your Creatorial at the end. THAT was actually one of my most favorite parts...it framed all I had read, was so eloquently "human" (I can completely identify with the urge to save things until the "opus" is perfect), and made your relationship with the characters somehow more real and almost tangible. I can honestly say, Max, that the demands of my life and career don't often give me time and space for pleasure reading much anymore - but, I WILL read Blink - I will MAKE time for it - anytime I see her!! Thanks so much for having the courage to just do it "so far".

The "SO FAR" Blink Store is open for business!

Hey, guess what?  The compact, uber-awesome digest edition of Blink: So Far that I've been talking/writing about for SO LONG is NOW AVAILABLE for sale at my eStore!  It should be easy peasy for you to purchase and have delivered right to your doorstep in a matter of days!

To celebrate the Max Ink BLINK:SO FAR's CreateSpace Store Opening...


SALE! SALE! SALE!

 

It's easy!  Just go to buyblinksofar.info and enter the code GNKDY5CA in the "Discount Code" box in the bottom right and you'll recieve 10% off! This offer is good until March 31st!  Sale extended until April30th!!

 

Oh.  After the book arrives and you read it & enjoy it, please be sure to visit the book's AMAZON.COM page and give it 5-stars and a nice customer review!

Books! Books! and more Books!

They're here! They're here!!  A whole mess'o Blink comics fresh from the printer!!!  Can you tell that I'm excited from all the exclamation points I'm using?!?!  These books will be available for sale at the Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo this weekend! 

 

Now, lemmie fill you in on a not-so-secret thingie: These particular books I printed are special.  The regular edition, which is going to be ready to order from Amazon in a week or so, will be printed as a digest sized book.  But these "Convention" editions are printed oversized (magazine sized) with art that is signigantly larger than the digest edition.  The special "Convention" edition is priced at $15 compared with the digest version, which is priced at $10.  

After the show, if there are any books left over from this "massive" print run (of less than 50 books), I'll do what I can to sell `em over the intertubes.