`Round the world and home again, that’s the sailor’s way…

Phew.

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 Sketchbook Cover [Color Copy] copyBehind 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:

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 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.

 

 “From The Beginning...”

Whew.

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).

Ugh.

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.

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.)

Comics For A Cause

Earlier this month, I noticed a post somewhere about Lora Innes putting together a charity fundraising event—Comic Creators for Freedom—to raise awareness about Human Trafficking with funds going to two organizations—LOVE 146,  and GRACEHAVEN (Gracehaven is located in Central Ohio, where I live and where I set the stories of Blink). 

Lora writes on the CCFF website:

Human Trafficking is personal to me.

I mentored a young 14 year-old middle school student in the Columbus (Ohio) City School district. One morning on her way to school, two men pulled up to her bus stop, jumped out with a gun  and threatened to shoot her if she didn’t get in the car. In the backseat she saw two other teenage girls, with duct tape over their mouths. She told me that at that moment she’d rather die on the sidewalk then be kidnapped and raped, so she took off running. The man with the gun began counting down “3… 2… 1…” as if to shoot her, but neighbors came out when they heard the commotion and the men drove off. She gave extensive information to the police, but so far as I know, they were never caught and the girls in the backseat never rescued.

This is happening all over America and the World. Human Trafficking is essentially a modern term for an old problem–slavery. There are actually more people enslaved today than there were during the historic Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade we hear so much about.

Most of it is children, and most of it is sexual slavery–forced prostitution, and the girls are usually runaways who are taken advantage of or are kidnaped intentionally for this purpose. After an intense weekend of being raped by paying customers (one testimony from a survivor I heard was 30 men in less than as many hours), a girl is broken, and a pimp has power over her to do what he wants. She is sold to the highest bidder and her life is no longer her own, and never, ever the same.

So far Comic Creators for Freedom has raised $15,000! Imagine what we can do this year.

We donate 100% of what we raise to charity. The money is split evenly the between global organization Love 146and Gracehaven, a safe house being built for girls coming out of sexual slavery here in the U.S. It is only the FOURTH such house in the entire United States. So I think what they are trying to do is very important. Read more about both organizations below.

I think all girls deserve the right to grow up healthy and free! And luckily, so do a lot of my friends.

-Lora Innes (The Dreamer)

Lora has organized CCFF with the help of Crystal Yates over the past two years and I’m glad to be one of the over 100 artists participating this year to help raise awareness about this sad situation and raise funds to help these kids. January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day here in the U.S. The CCFF fund drive will run from Monday, January 9th through Friday, January 20th. This year’s theme is “Epic Snowball Fight” and I present to you my entry into the fray:

ink_blink [2011]

Wheels on the bus go `round and `round…

Bus Stop Ned - Blink [Max Ink]Do you ride the bus?  Have you ever sat next to a fellow rider who spouted nonsensical phrases, comments, opinions, what-have-you?  If so, then you might’ve been sitting next to Ken Eppstein’s “BUS STOP NED.”  In Ken’s NIX COMICS QUARTERLY #3, Blink makes an appearance in a Bus Stop Ned one-page story.  Historical fun fact: this is the first comic that Blink appears in color!  

NIX is a horror/humor comic which comes out quarterly (obviously) and every issue features a variety of local & national artists illustrating stories written by Ken. (Ken occasionally allows others to write stories, but Ken is following in the great Harvey Kurtzman’s footsteps and likes to have plenty of control over the comics he publishes—which I can completely understand.)  This time around, the illustration talent includes Mark Rudolph, Michael Neno, E.J. Barnes, Matt Wyatt, Bob Ray Starker, and a story written by Rachel Deering and illustrated by Glen Ostrander who also painted the gorgeous cover art (see detail below). 

NIX COVER (detail)

The newest issue of NIX COMICS QUARTERLY makes it’s debut in late August and I hear a rumor that there will be a “Kickstarter BBQ” on the 27th with the location TBA.

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.

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".

Excerpts from "Messing with the American Corporatocracy"

What do you get when you introduce a passionate Liberal journalist to a bunch of Small Press Comicsters on a lovely March weekend in Columbus, Ohio?

An informative, entertaining and enjoyable article about the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, which can be found at The Liberal Ohioan.  What IS The Liberal Ohioan?

"TLO is an online magazine of liberal news and community with an unapologetically liberal viewpoint. However, being a liberal is not limited to a political stance. Liberalism extends to our lifestyles, from the books we read and the friends we choose to what we do on weekends and how we spend our money. At TLO, we choose to embrace the liberal lifestyle, so there's neither room nor patience for suggestions to be anything less than liberal.

I don't know what your politics/philosophies are, but as a writer & artist who is focused on doing what I can to make the world a better place to live and love through my art, I think it's pretty cool what they're doing at TLO.  

Feel free to click on this link and jump right into reading the S.P.A.C.E. article, but I'd like to share with you some of my favorite bits from the article:

I asked Josh (who publishes publishes Candy or Medicine, a quarterly mini-comic anthology) about his comic books and how things work.

Josh: I have a day job. I don't make any money doing this but that's not really the point.

TLO: What's the point, then?

Josh: It's fun. I like creating something that didn't exist before. I like putting something out there that wouldn't be there if I hadn't created it. There's a Do-It-Yourself aspect to it, too.

This Josh guy was definitely not preaching the gospel of capitalism.

...and...

There's a spirit of collaboration in this community. Some artists wore pins with the letter "t" to signal their willingness to trade comics. "Hey, didn't I just see this comic on that other table?"

Friendly people.

I have never met so many people in one place so anxious to talk to me without the primary intention of making a buck. Actually, one dollar is the going rate for most of the comics at S.P.A.C.E. Corporate America would say these artists just don't know the value of their work. On the contrary, most of the people I met do recognize the value of their creations. They absolutely love what they've created and can't wait to tell you about it and get it into your hands! Put simply, these artists don't restrict the value of their work to dollars and cents.

...and (of course)...

My last stop was at the table of Columbus artist, Max Ink displaying BLINK, his latest creation. BLINK is filled with familiar scenes of Columbus, Ohio and is written to reach a broader audience than the typical comic book readers. I was really impressed with the quality and character of Max's illustrations.

Aw, shucks.

Okay, that's it-- show's over.  Time to move along.

We've got a Starr in Columbus

I honestly cannot recall where or when I first met Talcott Starr (probably at last year's SPACE or there abouts), but each brief encounter we've shared reminds me why I love comics and poetry, because his web comic series, Rescue Archeology, details his life in such a poetic and honest fashion.  

I was fortunate enough to see him again this past weekend and get a copy of his collection, Found On The Memory Farm. (I don't know how/when he'll make it available for sale via the internets, but if you subscribe to his twitter feed, I'm sure you'll be the first to know.) Talcott's art and writing is a mix of Jeffrey Brown, James Kolchalka, Craig Thompson, Harvey Pekar (sans Harvey's trademark grumpiness), John Porcellino and Paul Chadwick. 

After thumbing through Found, I took a few seconds to check out his Live Journal blog and came across this post.  He's been collecting songs about Ohio/Ohio cities and this is the one he found about Columbus-- Road Outside Columbus by O.A.R.  Admittedly, Talcott isn't a fan of the song, and I am unfamiliar with the band, but hey-- how many songs are there about Columbus?  If you know any, post `em in the comments section, will ya?  Please?

Blast Off!

 

Time to suit up and strap your jet pack on!  S.P.A.C.E. is this weekend!  From 10a-6p today and 10a-5p tomorrow at the Ramada Plaza, I'll be set up at table 117 (hopefully) selling lots o' Blinks!  Hope to see you there!

OH!  And on the "Look ma, I'm famous!" front... For those of you who either live outside the Columbus area or missed picking up the March 17 edition of The Other Paper, here's an interview with me talking about Blink about S.P.A.C.E.!