Arch City, My City

So... yesterday I turned 45. (Yippee.)

I celebrated the day by spending ten hours working on a Blink comic page, having a nice nap, then going out to dinner (with me, myself and I) and then going to Jeni's for some ice cream.

imageI had dinner at Arch City Tavern, which will be appearing in a future Blink comic.  I'd never been to Arch City before but have heard good things about it. The restaurant is co-owned by Koli Memushai and Xhevair Brakaj. Brakaj also owns the Red Door Tavern in Grandview Heights, which I love and frequent often (it's located half a block away from my house).

For the heck of it, here’s my assessment of the place:

imageIt’s an intriguing combination of casual and fancy schmancy—having a mild “hipster” vibe to it (I consider hipsters to be 21st Century yuppies). But I didn’t let that deter me from appreciating and enjoying all that this place had to offer. The staff was friendly and attentive and the food was good. I had some Bratwurst Corn Dogs with ketchup (a little bit hipster) and French Onion soup (served in a large, carved-out onion... very hipster). 

Overall, I had a very nice time. On reflection, I consider the very existence of Arch City Tavern to be a celebration of the wonderfulness that is Columbus. It’s fitting that I’ll be ending the run of my Blink strips here.

Sigh…

Now I’m in the mood for a little history.

digital-collections.columbuslibrarySo, I’m going to fill you in on what the heck the deal is with these arches and Columbus.

Much like Chicago being known as “The Windy City” and Detroit the “Motor City,” in the late 19th and early 20th Century, Columbus was known nationwide as "Arch City."  (There was even a song!)  The whole thing started in 1888 because there was going to be a very very big party for veterans in Columbus. The city built a bunch of wooden arches downtown to help keep the streets well lit (by gaslight). Over the next 30 years, more arches were built along High Street and Broad Street. Eventually though, the cost of maintaining the arches grew too high and lampposts were being used for keeping the streets lit. By 1914, most of the arches were dismantled. (Only to rise up again like the legendary Phoenix 100 years later.) You can read the detail here and watch this short video (from the Columbus Neighborhoods: The Short North documentary) if you’re jonesing for more info. 

 

What's 12¢ worth these days?

I couldn't help but read this assessment of the current state of American film culture by Manohla Dargis and think of the comparisons which have always been made between cinema and comics over the years. And with all the comic book movies that have been (and will continue to be) released, I literally laughed out loud when I read this bit from her article 

 

The critical consensus is that 2013 was a good year for movies, but that’s only true if you ignore a lot of the junky titles, like “Iron Man 3,” that dominate the top of the box office
She mentions Iron Man 3 once more 
...as tough as it is to get any movie made, it’s even more difficult to produce and distribute genuinely original, nongeneric, non-groupthink work, which is one reason the big studios are now largely in the recycling business (“Iron Man 3” and the regurgitated like).

 

After finishing reading (and enjoying) the article, I looked up the NYT movie review of Iron Man 3 and was not at all surprised to see that it was Ms. Dargis who reviewed it. Here's a quote from that review

...originality isn’t the point of a product like “Iron Man 3,” which, despite the needless addition of 3-D and negligible differences in quips, gadgets, villains and the type of stuff blown up, plays out much like the first two movies.

 Ms. Dargis goes on to deride the film as well as its cast and crew. In regards to director Shane Black, she states

For his part, Mr. Black made his name scribbling breezy action movies like “Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout,” which wed violence to jokes and irony. His only other directing credit is for “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (the title of a Pauline Kael collection), a cutesy, self-conscious 2005 action flick with Mr. Downey.

(Apparently, Ms. Dargis is not a fan of the James Bond franchise; since "Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was John Barry & Leslie Bricusse's unused composition for the opening of Thunderball(1965), which predates Pauline Kael's 1968 book. Let me also clarify something before I continue: I am not getting down on Ms. Dargis' POV. I believe she presents very astute and perfectly valid points in her writings. I don't necessarily agree with her assessments/opinions on comic book movies, but I respect them.)

Back to Ms. Dargis' review of Iron Man 3...

She points out how Mr. Black's film makes connections between Tony Stark's PTSD (after dealing with the alien invasion which occurred in The Avengers) and America's collective PTSD as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC in 2001 as well as numerous others since, including the Boston Marathon bombing which occurred just weeks before thew film opened. (Heck. The title of her review is “Bang, Boom: Terrorism as a Game” for criminey's sake.)

She quotes a speech made by Steven Soderbergh at the San Francisco International Film Festival

He wondered why a studio would spend so much money to release a big franchise sequel like this: “Is there anyone in the galaxy that doesn’t know ‘Iron Man’ is opening on Friday?” More instructively, he also suggested why studios have become so dependent on big movies, including money, fear, lack of vision and leadership. Studio executives deserve much of the blame for “pushing cinema out of mainstream movies,” as he put it, but “what people go to the movies for” has also changed since Sept. 11.

Mr. Soderbergh said he thought that the country still has post-traumatic stress disorder “and that we haven’t really healed in any sort of complete way and that people are, as a result, looking more toward escapist entertainment.”

She continues to lament the state of the film industry in her review

...it has become difficult for filmmakers to make midlevel studio movies for adults who value thought over action, narrative ambiguity over blunt spectacle. Good big movies are still released and sometimes even produced by the studios. Among the most satisfying films of the past decade are some from “The Dark Knight” and “Harry Potter” franchises, both of which, in their different ways, engage Sept. 11 and the world it made while transporting viewers into fantastical realms. “Iron Man 3,” by contrast, at once invokes Sept. 11 and dodges it, and does so with a wink and a smile.

In Ms. Dargis' review, she concludes that

...movies like “Iron Man 3” don’t have any business taking on tough issues. The point is that if they are to be worthy of the art, worthy of the audience and its time and its money, worthy of the legacy of those Hollywood movies that comforted and cheered Americans through world wars and bleak times, they should take on the toughest issues — not just exploit them. 

Phew! That sure is a whole hell of a lot of baggage to unload onto a movie like Iron Man 3

So... what are my thoughts on this? 

Hm.

It might seem trite, but I'll simply say this: I am of the opinion that Manohla Dargis would be better served by lightening up a little and relaxing. I honestly don't believe that Kevin Feige, Drew Pearce, Shane Black, Robert Downey, Jr. and all the hundreds (thousands?) of people who were involved in bringing Iron Man to the silver screen were thinking "let's make a serious movie for thoughtful adults.” I am of the opinion (I could be wrong, I mean, wtf do I know) that they wanted to celebrate and share with the world the comic book character that Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby brought to life over 50 years ago in the four color pages of Tales of Suspense #39.

That's my 12¢ worth, anyway.

Make Art. And Make It Good.

Yesterday, I celebrated another year around the Sun.  Thanks to all those who wished me well via Facebook, Phone and In Person).

To celebrate the day of my birth, I did one of my very favorite things to do: I made comics. I began working on the final art for the second chapter of BLINK: So It Goes.  (I'll be sure to post samples of the work as I go along.) Afterward, I reflected on the time I've spent on this fine Earth and what I have accomplished thus far.  I'd like to think that I've done okay.

This morning, I happened upon ZEN PENCILS (via the BuzzFeed website) which is a web comic by Australian illustrator, Gavin Aung Than.  Gavin turns inspirational quotes by wise/ intelligent/ compassionate people into wise/ intelligent/ compassionate and inspirational comics.

The comic that drew me to his site adapted a bit from Neil Gaiman's commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After reading it, I followed Gavin's advice and stopped what I was doing and watched it.     And then I read it.  It's damned good.  (Cripes, it's Neil Gaiman! Of course it's good!)

And now, I'll stop futzing around online and follow Neil's advice (there's plenty to be had) and make a few mistakes ("...make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes...") and I will Make Good Art.

Imagining Reality Into Existence

 

I drew the image on the left in the Summer of last year (and I didn't even ask to have the gallery exhibit at Wild Goose until October). The photo on the right was taken two days ago at the Blink "Wonka Wonka Kochalka" Book Release Party.

Last year, it was mearly a fancy, and with diligent work, perseverence and the help of others, that dream became a reality. 

Oh! And check out this keen article about me an' Blink at The Other Paper. (Now, with less snark!) (Seriously though... in spite of the typical snarky/snide attitude T.O.P. has, they've always been very kind to me and Blink.)

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!

Taking a stroll on the Wild Side [WWK Page One]

Yesterday, I went to my second appointment with my local Chiropractor (Grandview Chiropractic Center).  My neck’s been stiff lately and my hands are getting a bit cramped from all the fine line work I do on Blink  So I’ll be going there few a few weeks to get adjustments there and I bought a “Gyro Exerciser” to help retrain my hand/wrist/arm/shoulder muscles. 

Since Dr. Wilamosky’s office is only a block away from Stauf’s (my occasional studio away from home), I brought my portfolio to work on the pencils for page one of WWK there.  However, while I was in the Doc’s waiting room, I could hardly wait to get started working on Blink, so I pulled out my stuff and got on with roughing out the page.   (I actually didn’t have that long of a wait… I’m just not a very patient patient, I guess.  Smile with tongue out )

After my appointment, I rambled over to Stauf’s, set up at an open table and ordered a chilled Buckeye (that’s one of my half-dozen preferred beverages).  Before I had gotten 1/4 of the way through penciling, I was happily visited by Ross Hardy (who happened to be outside enjoying the Stauf’s patio).  I hadn’t seen Ross in months upon months, so it was good to catch up a bit with him. 

Later, one of Stauf’s fine baristas—Jesse (a recent graduate of CCAD), came by to chat for a little bit.  She’s interested in creating comics and so I told her about the Sunday Comix Group.  She said that she’s still in the “experimental” phase of her comics creations; I hope she joins the reaches out and joins the bustling (albeit hidden in the shadows) Columbus comics community and moves forward with her desires to create comics.

Now, for your enjoyment, here are the in progress photos of page one of WWK (pencils completed at Stauf’s, inks completed at home): 

DSC00179

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DSC00189

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I still have to illustrate the music notes (need to borrow the resource material from the library) and lay in a “cool quote” in the box on the bottom left.  Don’t know what that quote will be yet, but it’s sure to be something cool.  And of course I’ll scan it with my new scanner (that works!) and fill in a bunch of tones to make the page really “POP.”   BTW, if you don’t know the building those sidewalkers are passing by, it’s the Wild Goose Creative on Summit Street (just south of Hudson Ave.). They’re good people and have lots and lots to offer the creative community of Columbus.

Like I stated in yesterday’s post, I took some photos for reference. Here’s the (composite) photo I used to get a realistic feel for page one:

Splash page composite

Okay, that’s all for today.  On to penciling page two!

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...

 

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

In case you didn't notice that little text on the left, I'll be hanging out with a few thousand heroes at HeroesCon down in Charlotte, NC for the next few days.  I'll have plenty of So Far books along with a few prints (like the one above, colored by the awesomely talented Matthew Swift) and other various Blink thingees.  

Also, if you were wondering why I hadn't updated this site for a number of weeks, here's the scoop: I was busy struggling with writing a script for a non-fiction historical piece about Walt Whitman.  (Huh. He celebrated his 172nd birthday two days ago.  Cool.)  The trouble I was having with the script was that it felt more like writing a term paper than a comic book, but after I got over the "academic" nature of the material (which I can't stand) and got into a more poetic mindset (which is more my speed), I relaxed and enjoyed it. (This is a Walt Whitman piece after all.) The 13-page narrative--which I'll draw later this year--will be included in an anthology that's going to published by an honest-to-gosh-for-realsies publisher.  More info on that will be forthcoming as the publication date gets closer (due sometime in 2012).

I also spent the beginning of the month working on a cute 3-page Blink story that will appear in a Dollar Bin anthology and the past little while has been spent putting together a nifty-keen "Blink: So Far" brochure (with 2-page comic) that I hope will up the awareness of the book.  I'll have plenty of `em out and about at HeroesCon, then when I return to C-Bus, I'll be putting them out and about at coffee shops, record stores, galleries, cool resale shops and wherever Blink-minded readers can be found.

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.

Living A Dream

I had a dream just now from which I awoke. 

It wasn't a scary dream, nor was it a sweet dream; it was a realistic dream about what very well might happen in the days or months to come. 

On Monday, I sent out over a dozen review copies of Blink: So Far to various blogger-writer-types.  Some of these writers I know (and they like/are familiar with my work) and some others I don't have a clue whether or not they'll be hip to what I'm doing with Blink

The dream that caused me to wake from my slumber was this: a reviewer (whom I don't know) wrote that my art and storytelling were fine and that s/he liked that aspect of the book.  But what the reviewer didn't enjoy and felt I "should change" in future editions was the lack of "drama" and "conflict" in my stories. 

HA!

First of all, this non-existant (dreamed-up) reviewer obviously didn't read the book deeply enough.  If s/he had read the book and saw beneath the surface of the words and pictures, they would see the pain and sorrow and conflict that I poured into my characters' thoughts and actions.

Second of all, I agree with the non-existant reviewer (as of yet)-- there are definitely stories in So Far which have no conflict in them (Space to Breath being a good example).  But must every story conform to the three (or five) act structure with all the problems /complications /conflicts/ tensions/ climaxes/ resolutions/ etc?  I'm well aware that there are plenty of avant-garde plays and films that stray away from that structure.  But I doubt that anyone reading Blink would classify it as an avant-garde comic book.

Then it hit me. 

I don't write comic book stories.  I write comic book songs.  (Or, at least, that's my dream.)

When I listen to a musician, I don't expect every song that they compose and perform to conform to a set of expectations in how it's played.  Sometimes they make rocking, thunderous and exciting songs (Conflict! Drama!) and other times they create songs that are gentle and peaceful.  Here are two examples from (once again) my favorite band, Yes:

...the quiet song...

...the rocking song...

 

If I could write songs or play an instrument or if I could sing then I'd probably be on stage living the dream of a rock & roll star.  (Or at least trying to make a go at it.)  But I can't.  And I'm very grateful for what I can do.  I've been creating comics since I was 10 years old and when I was 12 years old I didn't want to do anything else but create comics.  And almost 30 years later, that's exactly what I'm doing.

I'm living my dream.

Status Update


This past week has been a good week.  

First off, this morning Chuck Moore over at Comics Related gave me a heads-up this morning that my mug was getting some primo real estate on their site regarding their photo coverage of the Gem City Comic Con.  (There are more photos here, too.  And more to come!)  Gem City was a fun one day show and I'm glad that I went. (Even if it wasn't as financially rewarding as SPACE; but whatchugonnado? It's primarily a Superhero show and my book is a far cry from superhero fare).  I spent some quality time with my friend, Frank Cvetkovic along with that fella in the pic above to my left, Rob Walker-- who also took a bunch of photos of his own at the show.  

On Tuesday, Rob and I took a little trip down to McPherson Commons/Arch Park (with the Union Station Arch), North Bank Park and the Santa Maria in Downtown Columbus for some reference photography stuff (for a far off future Blink story).

He lookie!  It's me with my "toy" camera.  You can see my pics here.

 

So... that was earlier today and Tuesday; on Monday & Wednesday I took another step forward in making my comics creating passion be more like a comics creating career-- I opened a business bank account!  A week or so ago, I received one of those promotional mailers from a local bank and decided that now was the time to take my Blink finances seriously.  So I stopped into the bank on my way back from the Post Office (mailing out a "ton" of Blink: So Far review copies) and before hanging out with some friends at Kafe Kerouac to make art.  I was helped by a very nice Assistant Bank Manager, Josh, and was then asked to return on Wednesday to talk with Hilliary about opening up my new business account.  She was enthusiastic and awesome and oh-so-helpful, patient & understanding!  (I'm a rank amatuer when it comes to finances!) I am now registered in the State of Ohio to Legally erarn money under the title: Maximilian Ink.  ("Max Ink" as a trade name was taken.) 

Let's see... Weds, Tues, Mon, Sun... going back in time to SATURDAY!  That day kicked off a 24-Hour Comics marathon at the Wild Goose Creative.   My Sunday Comix friends Canada Keck, Talcott Starr, Alex Heberling & Michael Neno were the participants and most of them managed to stay awake and complete the entire she-bang.  Since I was going to Dayton on Sunday, I could only commit to visiting for a few hours to cheer them on and eat some free pizza.

How about Friday?  I had a majorly awesome time with my daughter seeing/hearing Todd Rundgren perform the entirety of his albums Todd and Healing at the Southern Theater.  (I think the review for Todd's opening night in Hartford is a slightly better written review of the show.)

Oh, and you know what?  There was something else awesome that happened this afternoon-- but that's a whole `nother story!  (to be continued...)

 

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.

A Thousand Mockingbird Fans Can't Be Wrong

It was more than a thousand, actually, who attended this past weekend's "To Kill A Mockingbird" play that was produced/performed by the Available Light Theatre company (and friends). I was fortunate enough to see the performance three times with friends & family (twice in the front row) and I feel even more fortunate that Matt Slaybaugh (my friend and the AVLT Artistic Director) asked me to create the poster for the play.  I loved the book when I first read it years ago and the Gregory Peck performance of Atticus Finch was very inspirational for me as a young father.

I'm glad to have had the opportunity to meet so many other Mockingbird fans as well.  I spent a few hours of my weekend signing 11x17 copies of the poster to cast members and audience members alike. I provided them for sale at the "Pay What You Want" price (which is Available Light's general admission ticket policy) and was more than pleasantly surprised to have ended up earning more during those few hours than I typically do at the typical comic book shows (where I'll spend up to three days 8-10 hours a day behind a table attempting to sell my wares)!

So, bravo to the kind hearts and generous spirits to all the Mockingbird Fans and Theatre Lovers this weekend!

Hey... if you like the poster, I've got some left over that you can have (Pay What You Want, plus $3 shipping, email me for details) and there's also t-shirts available, too!

FCBD Thank Yous

First of all, thanks to my friend, Canada, for helping me on Friday to prep for FCBD!  I couldn't have made it all work without your help.  For me, FCBD was a 14-hour day giving out free Blink comics and travelling about 25 miles (on my bicycle, Sheeba) on a beautiful rainy Saturday.   Thanks to the staff at Packrat Comics for putting on a heck of a FCBD Event (and it really WAS an event) and to all the artists/creative types who took the time to share their talents with the many many many people who came out on a wet & grey Saturday.  Thanks to Laughing Ogre for letting me put out more of my Blink FYI, IDK.  And lastly, a huge scoop of thanks to the wonderful staff (and all the charming clientèle!) at Jeni's!

A New Day (and all that goes with it)

I WILL stop apologizing for not updating this site more often and I SHALL commencing updating it regularly.

....starting tomorrow....

Since I've got way too much stuff to get done otherwise today. (Trust me, I'll post info about all that's upcoming in the World of Max Ink/Blink tomorrow.)   However, if you want to keep track of my every little move, then friend me on Facebook, okay?

Open Salon, God and Me

As many of you who've visited this site over the past few days know, I drew my first editorial cartoon and posted it on my blog at Open Salon.  It was an "Editor's Pick" and got some cover real estate for the weekend and also was linked to in recent Salon.com newsletters.  I've been posting my work on Open Salon for a couple of months (funny thing-- my first posted comic had to do with Health Care, too!) and I've been drawing comics in one form or another for well over twenty years and this singular cartoon has gotten more hits than all my other work combined.   Seriously.

The thought & execution of the God/Health Care cartoon took less time then my usual work.  The words were all my own but the image wasn't original-- I used a recent New Yorker cartoon as a visual template.  I didn't trace it or anything, but there are quite a few "God looking at Earth" cartoons about (kinda like the "man crawling in the desert" or "person on deserted island" cartoon clichés).  I prefer being as original as possible and using my own characters.  So drawing this somewhat un-original cartoon and getting this sudden burst of "popularity" shakes me up quite a bit; because even though I want people to read my work,  I don't want to quit drawing my Blink comics just so that I can get more people to read "the work of Max Ink."

Being truly original is difficult; but then again, nothing is ever truly original. My roommate is a wonderful cook and I love it when he invites me to taste whatever he's preparing-- but all the ingredients already existed and many of the dishes he prepares have been prepared before.  (But it's awesome when he makes something totally new.)  I guess drawing a cartoon can be seen in a similar fashion:  I'm not so much inventing the art as I am mixing the various ingredients and cooking it on paper.  *Sigh*  Maybe I need to stop getting myself worked up so much and get myself drawing more.

Bottom line: I appreciate all the people who've checked out this site and read my online comics (and requested a free mini-comic) and I hope they'll stick around as I strive to find a balance between giving the people what they expect (familiar cartoon motifs) and doing my own, unique thing-- which is Blink.