START the year by giving BLINK a KICK!

Hello!

I hope your Holidays were Happy & Merry. Have you made your resolutions for the New Year? I have. I resolve to keep making new Blink books--lots more than I have in the past. And I also resolve to get more people reading them (and buying them).

I've been doing a pretty good job on the former by giving myself clear and managable goals every week and over the past few months I've managed to stay on schedule. I have every intention of keeping up the pace through the new year (and many years to come!).  

As for latter, one way that I am going to accomplish that is by running a Kickstarter Campaign to help boost the sales (and the awareness) of the first chapter (Wonka Wonka Kochalka) of the second graphic novel of Blink (So It Goes).  

If you've never heard of or participated in a Kickstarter Campaign, here's the deal: Kickstarter is a website that helps artistic types raise the funds needed in order to make their creative projects realities. There are all kinds of creative projects that they offer fundraising for-- Art,  Comics,  Dance,  Design,  Fashion,  Film & Video,  Food,  Games,  Music,  Photography,  Publishing,  Technology  and  Theater.  All the projects have clear objectives and the fundraing is "All or Nothing." People pledge money--however much they want--and receive rewards (payments are credit card based and processed through Amazon).  If the project isn't fully funded by the deadline, then no one is charged anything (and no one gets anything). 

My objective is raising funds ($1,500) to help pay for the printing of Wonka Wonka Kochalka and to offset the costs involved in putting on a Blink comic art show at the Wild Goose Creative gallery space.  I've got all sorts of various pledge amounts (from as little as $1 all the way up to $150) and lots of cool rewards. Even if you don't want to pledge any money (I know some people are wary of spending money online), you can help by sharing the project on Facebook, Twitter (or your social network of choice).  The campaign ends on January 31. 

 

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]

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!

Graphic Novel Writers' Roundtable

On October 5, local comics writers Ken Eppstein,  Dara Naraghi and myself were interviewed by Doug Dangler for the WRITERS TALK program.  If I understand this correctly, WT is put together by the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing (which is an interdisciplinary support and research unit in The Ohio State University's College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Art and Humanities).  >whew<

The interview is available in audio as well as video.  If you want to jump straightaway to "the egomaniac's" segment, click on the video below.  But please watch the entire 29 minute show; I mean--c'mon-- how often do you see Columbus comics creators (whose initials aren't J.S.) interviewed?  It's all pretty keen and I'm grateful to have been asked to participate.

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.

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

DSC00185

DSC00189

DSC00205

DSC00207

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!

Goin’ Old School

I spent a little time yesterday taking some much-needed photo reference shots at the two locations that WWK takes place.  As a result, I should have page one penciled today and inked tomorrow.  Later tonight to post the progress of that page—with the photo ref shot used). 

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you a bit of WWK history.  The story (in title, anyway) was originally conceived 5 years ago and featured just Blink & Hank bumping into each other (literally), talking and getting to know each others’ histories a bit more.  (Now the same thing will be taking place, but with six characters).  The other thing that’s a hold-over from the original is Blink’s overalls.

So I reached into my old Blink sketchbook (#9) and found this:

2006--02-27 WWK promo sketch

Oh, those blank Little Orphan Annie eyes Blink used to sport.  (Ick.)  If you want, there’s lots of other WWK sketches and penciled pages that I can post.  Let me know. 

Side note—the new WWK is being sketched out in Blink sketchbook #21.

 

ALSO!  Check it out:  I done did a guest strip for Kevin Freeman & Stan Yan's webcomic, SubCulture.  Fun!

One down, 29 more to go

It took about three hours for me to finish the inks on the Iuka Apartment building. 

Not all too shabby. 

I still have to spruce it up with tones in Photoshop, but my scanner is on the fritz, so that will have to wait until the replacement arrives (should be at my door tomorrow).  For now, it’s time for dinner, then to begin work on one of the story pages and see what I can get done on that before leaving for work tonight.

There are 28 pages of story and I also have the cover to draw=29 more to go.  I think (if my shoddy math skills are correct), if I draw 4.5 pages per week, I’ll have all that done & formatted for printing before I go to Baltimore in August.  (I also have to squeeze in a single page piece and a pin-up drawing that are scheduled to be completed before the end of the month.  Hi Ken!  Hi Chris!)

ONWARDS!

Iuka? What’s Iuka??

Here’s the first visual update on the first chapter of So It Goes:

 

I’ve gotta get a bite to eat before going to work—my "day" job that I work at night. ;)  I’ll update tomorrow with the finished piece and maybe I’ll write an answer the question: “What is Iuka?”

Before I go, I’ll answer a couple of questions from Facebook that are quick & easy:

Andrew Woods asks "When you make your comics do you use a certain type or size of paper? Just curious :)"  Yes—I draw on 14”X17” Strathmore Bristol board (smooth) 100 lb. 300 series. 

Jack Bertram asks “What kind of pens do you use when you ink?" Here they are:

DSC00117

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.

Enough with the wanting, now for the being

I don't know if you'd call this a "public service announcement," but it is a public announcement that hopefully will serve a good purpose:

Some of you know that in 2006 I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder (manic depression) and have since been in therapy and on medication (Lamotrigine); others of you have simply considered me to be a "creative type" or a "flake."

It's all true. 

The condition known as bipolar disorder is defined as "a mental illness that is characterized by extreme changes in mood, from abnormally elevated (manic or hypomanic) states of mind to abnormally depressed states for periods of time in a way that interferes with functioning."  As a bipolar II sort of person, I tend to suffer more frequent and more intense depressive episodes than my manic episodes.  And my mania comes in a more subdued form known as "hypomania."  It's a "mild to moderate level of mania, characterized by optimism, pressure of speech and activity, and decreased need for sleep. Generally, hypomania does not inhibit functioning like mania." 

But the depression part of being "manic depressive" is a real kicker:

"Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and appetite; fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization; loss of interest in sexual activity; shyness or social anxiety; irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause); lack of motivation; and morbid suicidal ideation." 

Yeah. LOADS of fun.

Last year was a rather bad year for me.  Even though I've been doing the therapy thing and have been taking medication, life still happens.  I'd rather not go into any details, but suffice it to say: "be careful what you wish for." 

This year (January & February) seemed like it would be a continuation of last year, and then "BLINK: So Far" happened.  After seven years of wanting (and waiting), I had an actual, real-life, honest-to-gosh Blink book that I could put into anyone's hands and say: "Here it is, read it." For about a month and a half, I was walking on sunshine and walking on the moon simultaneously.  I didn't expect it, but it came, and I am always going to be grateful for its coming and for its being.  But gratitude only goes so far. 

And so, as a manic depressive, the phrase "I get up, I get down" is the common refrain (Yes, indeed I am often close to the edge of any mood for a day).  ;)  I knew that my highs which had carried me aloft through much of March and April would eventually turn into lows and bring me back down to earth.  Almost two weeks ago, those lows slammed me in the face and my mood skidded along the ground, screeching and whining in my head like nobody's business.

Most people who see me when I'm out and about (especially those who don't know me too well) would probably say that I'm a rather gregarious sort of guy.  It's pretty easy to be outgoing and talkative when my brain is mixing its serotonin and dopamine in such a way that makes my world seem to be filled with rainbows, gum drops and all-so-much joy and wonder.   Well, it’s not all roses and rainbows, but I am usually able to see the bright side/silver lining to just about anything and it’s mighty darn nice being me when my mood is its hypomanic phase.

However, when I get depressed it’s quite a different story.  It's as if someone had amputated my ability to be happy and see the joy and worthwhileness in the world and all that I'm left with is a memory of it.   I sleep a lot, am unproductive and do the minimum necessary to get myself through the day.  Before I was diagnosed, it was a lot worse than it is now.  Seriously, it was a LOT worse.  These days, when I get depressed, my head doesn't feel like a giant black hole screaming with anguish and fear and guilt and anxiety and hopelessness and worthlessness and self-pity and self-loathing and on and on.  Also, I don't spend much time during my dark periods wishing for my world to come to an abrupt end-- so that's a good thing.  Although, I do tend to clam up and refrain from human interaction (including no phone calls or Facebook updates when I’m down) as I deal with the phantom feelings in my head.  So, for the past few weeks, I've been shut up in my darkness and tried not to disturb myself (or anyone else) too much. 

Oh, yeah-- and I had a "mini book tour" thing that happened right smack dab in the middle of this depressed period.  It went okay, a few people came out to say “hi,” I sold some books and have no complaints.  But I’ve got more stuff coming up in the next little while: story and art deadlines, convention and store appearances, various business matters and the like.  This depression thing is a real kill buzz when it comes to me getting anything done. 

Last night, as I was riding to work (and grateful for the brief respite from the rain), I was looking up at the vast sky with its clouds and stars and beauty and I wished that I wasn't depressed so that I could experience the simple joy that I knew I could feel if it weren't for my condition.  (Spring and Autumn are my favorite times of year.)  I arrived at work and after a brief time was asked if I wanted to leave early (they were over-staffed).  Since I made a little scratch on Sunday from the “book tour” and hope to make more this Saturday (on Free Comic Book Day), I figured that I deserved a night off.  And boy oh boy, did I get one!

On the ride home, when I looked back up at that big, beautiful night sky, I saw a single shining star poised amidst the billowing cloudscape and my world shifted. 

Suddenly I was smiling and singing and happy again.  And now I can stop wanting to be happy and I can enjoy being happy.

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.

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...)