Three weeks and three comic strips. So far, so good. This one took me all of 11/2 hours to write/draw/scan. I’m also working quite diligently on drawing the 42 pages of Chapter 2 of BLINK: So It Goes. Those pages take quite a bit longer for me to write/draw/scan. If I can stay on course with what I’ve been doing for the past month or so, I think I’ll be able to finish drawing the chapter around Thanksgiving. Then there’s the (long long overdue) Kickstarter rewards/commissions that I need to work into my schedule. I’m sure that I can figure out how to accomplish those things eventually (as well as doing all the usual day-to-day life stuff). Of course, that’s all dependent on my remaining sane.
Thanks to Jonathon R. for the dinosaur-pirates!
When I’m out and about working on Blink, people who take a look at my original art often comment on the detailed nature of my work. “How long did that take you? It must have taken forever.” Well, sometimes, it seems that way. It usually takes me anywhere from 10 to 15 hours to draw a single page of Blink. Sometimes it’s less, but when you factor in all the time spent writing, sketching, drawing the layout, then getting to the final pencils and inks, and then scanning, clean-up, tones, digital lettering… 10 to 15 hours might be a conservative estimate. I’m sure you’ll notice that I don’t do very many online updates on the progress of the book. I’d like to, but I’m way too much of a perfectionist and sort of want to show off stuff from the finished product. (I’m only about a third of the way done with the second chapter of So It Goes).
On Monday, I thought about a way to keep Blink in the eye of the reading public. Every so often, I come up with (or overhear) little ideas for quips, insights or whatever that my Blink characters can say. But it’s stuff that’d be more apt for a comic strip, rather than a graphic novel. I’ve done Blink comic strips in the past, but I approached those more like mini-comic pages of the comic book, rather than simple comic strips. That meant that each strip took me a looong time to create. If I was going to go back to making a Blink comic strip, I’d need to keep it simple so that I can stay focused on the ongoing (and time consuming) creation of the graphic novel.
And so, I have developed the Blink Sketchbook Strip. The first one took me all of an hour and a half to write, draw, scan and clean-up. Nothing fancy. Nothing time-consuming. Just a simple comic strip. It’s a challenge for me to keep it this simple, but if I want to do this thing on a weekly basis (which is my plan), then I cannot spend much time on it. I also can’t let myself worry about whether it’s good or bad. I can’t get caught up in details and I just need to do it.
So here it is--
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.
After months and months (or years and years, depending on the context), I am FINALLY done with “Wonka Wonka Kochalka” (chapter one of Blink: So It Goes). Oh, sure, the art and story for the book has been done since the end of February. And the Gallery Show has been hung at Wild Goose Creative since the beginning of March. And the book has been printed since the end of March. But the last bit of creative energy was spent on that (seemingly) Everlasting Gobstopper of a comic yesterday afternoon.
I have spent the past two weeks with my ass glued to the seat, writing and rewriting commentary and formatting and reformatting and search through my many many sketchbooks and selecting sketches and notes to be included in the book, Behind The Sketchbook: The Making of Wonka Wonka Kochalka. My goal was to have it completed before SPACE, and that goal has been achieved. This “comic book commentary” book is also the last bit of creative work that I needed to get done in order to fulfill my Kickstarter Campaign rewards. (I still have about a half dozen personalized drawings to do, but that’s another matter entirely—creatively speaking, that is).
So, what is Behind The Sketchbook?
It is what it says: a history of the making of “Wonka Wonka Kochalka.” It’s 40 pages of sketches and notes dating back to the creation of Blink herself (I start the whole thing off with the very first sketch of Blink from April 10, 2003) and then I ramble on and on with a very detailed account of what went into making the “Wonka” comic. From the very first inkling of the idea (it all began with a sketch dated February 24, 2004 with Blink reading a book and saying “Mm. Dreamy Kochalka”) until the bittersweet end, eight years later in 2012 (almost to the day).
Here are a few pages from the book:
I know this kind of detailed history of a single comic book isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe some die-hard Blink readers will buy it, I don’t know. I don’t care. I’ve been living with “Wonka” so long, I just had to get it all out of my system and this was the best way for me to do that.
And now it’s done.
But before I sign off from this post, I’m going to reprint what I wrote yesterday. It’s the last bit of commentary that appears in the book and I think it’s a nice send off to a story that’s been a long-time coming.
I am so glad to be done with writing this Behind The Sketchbook book! Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I did it. The time and effort it took to put this “comic book commentary” together was totally worth it. Over the months it took to write and draw the “Wonka Wonka Kochalka” comic in 2011, I would tell people that the story had been knocking around in my sketchbook for years before. But I never felt that I was able to fully get my point across as to how much work I had already put into this story. How many years I struggled with a concept that had never been published—because it was never quite good enough and never meant to be published—until now. Now, this chapter of Blink is done and I can move on to the next one—the next chapter in the story of Blink (the character, compared to the story of Blink, the comic book).
I really can't stand writing this non-fiction, essay-type stuff. I try my best to be honest and true. Both to myself and the reader.
But I'm always worried about getting my facts wrong. Worried that the words I'm using are wrong. Worried the grammar's wrong. Worried the punctuation is wrong. (Thanks English teachers!) Worried that I'm being too loquacious and overstating my opinion. Worried that I'm missing some important tidbit of information that prevents my point from being crystal clear to the reader. Worried about... nothing.
I'm far more at ease writing fiction: slipping on the persona of some character I created and speaking through them.
But over the years of writing and drawing Blink, Sam and Hank, as I've gotten to know them through the dozen or so stories I've managed to complete and publish, through the hundreds of sketches and notes and...conversations I've had with them in my many many sketchbooks, I've come to accept that they have voices of their own and they speak through me. They have their own truths which they hold dear to themselves. And now with Kevin, Joshua and Amy, and a whole slew of new characters that will appear in the Blink graphic novels to come, there are more voices that will be heard.
More opinions to be expressed.
More truths to be revealed.
More honesty to be shared.
More sparks to be given life.
In the pages of a comic book.
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.)
So, Thursday night was Gallery Night at Wild Goose Creative and it was oodles of fun with lots of friends and plenty of good food and great conversation. Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to stop by and visit! My friend Peter Parker Robert Walker was on the scene with his trusty camera snapping away.
Origami in Flight
Delicious delectables by CK Catering
Reading… it’s fundamental!
Talkin’ about comics.
“Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the reader.”
A little extra Blink art
Up Next, the WWK Book Release Party!
As wonderful an evening as Thursday night was, I need to share something else with you.
It’s been remarked to me that Blink comes off as an intriguing mix of realism and idealism. I’ll take that as a supreme compliment, since that’s exactly what I’m going for. In the Blink short, “Tilting at Landfills,” I used the following quote from Frederick H. Hedge, “What we need most is not so much to realize the ideal but idealize the real.”
I also believe that it’s a foolish thing to avoid seeing and engaging in reality, no matter what avenue we use to attempt our idealistic escape. Try as we might, we cannot evade what is real and true forever. Not the “reality” which we fear to be true, but the reality that is true. The reality that is undeniable, because it is right there, the reality which exists in front of our faces.
Just before the reception, I drove down the alleyway (pictured at left), behind Wild Goose and Rumba Café to park my borrowed car and unload my supplies for the evening’s festivities. As I slowly made my way down the uneven pavement, I passed by a man and woman, who were both dressed in shabby cloths, holding stuffed animals and looking through the trash bins. What I was a very real reflection of what happens on the final page of “Wonka Wonka Kochalka.” This is no coincidence. This is reality and I’m not interested in looking away from it any more.
But I did.
I saw this reality, the reality which I am writing about--amid the trash and refuse, and I didn’t stop. I kept on going because I had something “important” to do.
Now, I don’t feel guilty for not stopping. But I’d like to think that when I am presented with the opportunity to engage in that aspect of reality again
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)
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.
I am pleased to officially announce the music line-up for the Wonka Wonka Kochalka book release party on Friday, March 30th at the Wild Goose Creative! The party kicks off at 7pm and the live music entertainment begins at 9pm. I am soooo fortunate that three out of the four acts actually appear/are referenced in the book itself!
and Jason Quicksall actually performs his song, “Comic Book” on page 10 of the Wonka Wonka Kochalka book itself.
Rounding out the evening’s entertainment will be Bree Frick and Molly Winters (which are 2/3 of The Salty Caramels). They’ll be playing under the name The PSYCHOTIC BLONDES.
I’m determined to include these girls in a future chapter of Blink, so stay tuned!
I just put in an order to local printing company Legendary Ink (no relation) for lots and lots of 5”X7” postcards and got a great deal on the price! (I’m going to totally BLANKET this city with info about this show!) Thank goodness for the total success of the Kickstarter Campaign so I can afford this kind of publicity. (I even managed to include a bit of recognition for the Kickstartin’ Blink readers who helped make this possible on the card ). Much of yesterday and a bit of today was spent laying the groundwork for the March 30th Book Release Party. It is going to be an absolute BLAST of a party! I’ll update more about it when plans get finalized.
Here’s the nitty-gritty info:
**Gallery Night Reception**
Thursday, March 15th 7p-9p
A relaxed evening of comics and conversation. Copies of "Behind the Sketchbook: The Making of Wonka Wonka Kochalka" will be available for There will be complimentary food and drinks as well as free BLINK mini comics!
***BLINK: "Wonka Wonka Kochalka" Book Release Party! ***
Friday, March 30th 7p-11p
This is it! 8 years in the making, Max Ink's "Wonka Wonka Kochalka" will be released to the world!
And here's the blah blah blah stuff:
Over 30 pages of original comic book art from the newest chapter of Max Ink's BLINK graphic novel will be on display at the Wild Goose Creative. "Wonka Wonka Kochalka" is the first chapter in the graphic novel, BLINK: SO IT GOES. The art will be on view through the month of March.
Max Ink's BLINK comic book series is set in the neighborhoods of Columbus and features "slice-of-life" stories about three charming characters, Hank, Sam and Blink. Since its inception in 2003, BLINK has showcased numerous Columbus landmarks and hang outs such as Goodale Park, Stauf's Coffee House and the Park of Roses. "Wonka Wonka Kochalka" is no different: the 32-page story is set the Wild Goose Creative and the Rumba Cafe.
Ink's work has received much praise over the years, with many reviewers commenting on the beautiful art and real-life dialog. But the
characters themselves are the focus in BLINK; to the point where they seem "less like characters and (more like) people you could easily know.” The style and tone of Ink's stories is "smooth and natural, and just happens. It's real life right on the printed page." One reviewer even likened reading BLINK to "a refreshing adult beverage — relaxing, comfortable, and yet eye-opening in noticing the world from a new perspective."
The BLINK: WWK @ WGC exhibit features all the pages from the "Wonka Wonka Kochalka" chapter in sequence, so viewers can actually read the comic in its entirety on the gallery wall! Each piece of sequential art measures 14" X 17" and is drawn in pen and ink. The printed book will be available for sale on March 30th.
Blink’s Super-Keen Wonka Wonka Kochalka Kickstarter Campaign is approaching its FINAL WEEK and there’s still time for you to participate!
Yes, the initial goal has already been reached, and I am astounded by the support I’ve gotten from Blink readers thus far. Seriously, you guys are the greatest! I’ve gotten a few question over the past few weeks and I want to address them while there’s still time.
First of all, THIS CAMPAIGN IS NOT A CHARITY. All the money that’s raised through this Kickstarter campaign will go towards funding my various Blink related expenses (the printing of books, posters, t-shirts & promotional materials as well as costs involved with putting on the Blink Gallery Show in March at the Wild Goose Creative). After the campaign ends on Jan 31, the total amount raised will be deposited into my bank account (minus the percentage that Kickstarter keeps for services rendered).
You can contribute any amount ($1 or more) to the campaign and there are lots of options for people who want to give more (and if you give more, you get more). The bottom line however is that I’m essentially asking people to pre-order the “Wonka Wonka Kochalka” book for $10 (which includes shipping*). The book is going to be over 60 pages and if you’ve enjoyed Blink so far, then this new stuff is sure to knock your socks off.
Now, one of the “premium” rewards is a painted color version of this Blink Star Wars homage poster. I’ve had this drawing around for a couple of years and figured I might as well put it to good use. So I contacted my friend Matthew Swift and asked him to make this drawing of mine look more like the original (with color). Matthew is a professional colorist—he works with DC and Marvel and a few other comic companies, so he knows his way around a color pallet. (Check out our last Blink collaboration here.) I’ve seen a snippet of the final and it’s gonna look SUPERB!! In fact, I am so pleased with what a good job Matthew’s doing, if I reach 200% of my goal, I’m going to add an oversized postcard version of the final painted poster to anyone who pre-orders the book.
So, if you haven’t become a Blink backer yet, there’s still time! I’d love for you so to put your name on the 2-page Kickstarter “Thank You” spread that will appear in the book when its printed in March.
*Please add $5 if you live outside the U.S.
Yowza. I've been interviewed twice in the past week and a half!
I already mentioned Interview #1 here on Saturday, but just in case you missed it, it can be read at Best of Columbus, which is a new-ish website showing off what cool stuff & people Columbus has to offer.
And both interviews mention my Kickstarter Campaign!
(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?
I’d love to get more letters.
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.
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,
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.
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.
Well, if you know me, then you know that I'm not a bragger--but I am proud of what I comics I make and I DO have a tendency to talk a LOT about them.
So I looove interviews.
I recently spent a little time with Emily Journey of the Best of Columbus website answering her questions about my work habits, Blink, Kickstarter and what makes Columbus so awesomesauce. Why not head over there for a looksee, alright?
“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts- such is the duty of the artist.”
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
Wednesday, January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. For the past few years, Lora Innes and Crystal Yates have organized the Comic Creators for Freedom project which helps raise funds to fight human trafficking. You may not know it, but there are currently 27 million enslaved people worldwide- more than double the number of enslaved Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children every year are sold into slavery, most of it sexual. The US Department of Justice estimates 16,000 victims of human trafficking are brought into the United States every year. Unlike slavery in the past, what is happening today is happening in secret. It won’t end until awareness is raised, and people like you and me take a stand.
The Comic Creators for Freedom (CCFF) is a group of over 100 comic book creators who volunteered our artistic talents to raise money and awareness for this cause. Each creator contributed an original drawing of one of our own female characters, and Lora & Crystal then combined them into a single wallpaper image which is available for download when people donate to the cause.
The hope is that readers will be excited to participate in the donations drive (there's a PayPal button on th Comics Creators for Freedom site), and that the wallpaper will be used to generate interest in the project. The wallpaper features characters from all over the web, including Girls with Slingshots, Heart of A Colt, Dressed For Success, Next Year’s Girl, Earthsong Saga, Greg The Megabeaver’s Prehistoric Sideshow, Plus One, The Dreamer, and tons more (as you can plainly see)!
There will be a Donations Drive that will last for two weeks, from Monday January 9th – 20th and everyone who donates gets a copy of the wallpaper. All proceeds will be split evenly between Love 146 and Gracehaven House- two organizations working on rehabilitation of victims and prevention of this crime.
I figured that the goal I had set for myself was a reasonable one ($1,500). And I believed that I had enough readers who enjoy Blink enough that the campaign would be a success… but—wow. I never thought that I’d reach the goal so fast.
Thanks everyone! You guys are the awesomesauciest!