Story and Art: Max Ink
Special Edition 2011 Convention Edition (2nd Printing)
Review By: John M. Scrudder
I can't recall the exact circumstances in which I came to meet Max Ink. I know I was working on the genesis of Cerebus TV at the time with Dave Sim, and it was either the 1st or second Comics Convention I had gone to with the intention of doing interviews with comic creators. This was at the Ohio Comic Con in 2009 I believe.
Max and I had corresponded before the event - I recall seeing his work in an issue of Glamourpuss and seeing a very funny photo series of him and Dave Sim. I think this is when I first got in touch with Max, knowing, somehow, probably through him telling me directly, that he would be at the Ohio Comic Con. I looked for his table; I'd already done a hand full of interviews and was still trying to find my footing as to how about I would go about and do these interviews, which, at the time was purely by the seat of my pants. It's sort of the same way today, I'm just more comfortable doing it now.
I found Max at his table and after the formal introductions and interview I bought all the Blink Books and the two prints he had available at the time. I also did a piece on a Jam comic that had something to do with a Zombie Gumby...
Max was friendly and amiable, and very humble. He sketched and signed each of my Blink books and did a wonderful full sketch of Sam ( Which unfortunately was destroyed during the great Mercury Spill of 2009; the worst in North Carolina's history) - We sat and spoke for a while about his comic and how I could assist in helping get Blink out there for the public - fans would come by the table and say they knew him from the local paper, or how one of his strips had inspired them and so on and so forth. That was the 1st and last time I met with Max Ink.
When I got home I read all of the Blink books (before leaving the convention I made sure to pick up some of the OH! Books that had some Blink Short stories in them).
I was blown away. Max ink is the reincarnation of the lonely and sad, yet beautiful and intelligent poets from the early days of yesteryear. Each Blink Comic is preceded by a thoughtful quote and a location in the greater Columbus, Ohio area. Make no mistake, the backgrounds are as important to the story as the characters that make them up.
It takes less than an hour to read seven years worth of work, however, and I know as an artist and a writer myself (aspiring I should say, as I've no publications) how frustrating it can be when you invest so much time into something that you love and it only takes the reader a mere fraction of that to digest it. The hours, days and years of Isolation and loneliness for a cartoonist would drive most people insane (but then again, aren't all cartoonists insane to a certain degree?), but now we have something tangible, something we can hold in our hands and say "LOOK! Here's Max Ink's new Book - "Blink: So Far..."
There are nine wonderful stories in this 90 page collection of shorts. Everything is in there exactly where it should be. Nothing is out of place and nothing is missing. You've got the three main characters, the ever cheerful, (though sometimes sad and frustrated) and sunny dispositional "Blink" and her best friend Sam, who is a realist, or, just another word for a pessimist, though she has a warm soft center, she's not all to eager to reveal it that often. And then we have Hank, the would be musician who clearly wears his heart on his sleeve and more than likely is the best personification of Max within the series, though, arguably, all three characters have a bit of him in there.
Max uses these characters and the Columbus, Ohio area to explore things such as Youthful innocence gone by in Autumns Playground. Playful and witty banter between two friends in Time and a few words. A Brief, Hopeless Case shows us the all too familiar frustrations of anxiety and writers block and how we perceive ourselves to be failures who tirelessly work to prove otherwise, which is beautifully portrayed in the final full page illustration on page 25. Snow Day is a clear homage to the amazingly talented Bill Watterson. Barefoot in America, Breakfast in the park is where the three central figures are tied together for the first time and we get a glimpse of how Max will be treating the dynamics of the trio's dialogue and we also get to know the characters a little better. Max Ink definitely lives in a world of Poetry and Music and makes no apologies using his characters to bridge that gap between creator, creation and Reader. Max Ink's life is all right there, in some form, laid out on the page for us. The end of Beatnik Picnik, page 68 is my favorite page that Max has created to date... I WILL own that page one day, oh yes, I will! Space to Breathe reminds us how nice it is to have a close friend and it's a good indication of the human spirits desire to be close to someone while living in a world of uncertainty and insanity. A Spark's desire is an Ember's deed is a nice glimpse into the life of the trio as we may very well see them in future endeavors. Great Dialogue and a sense of looseness weaves a wonderful campfire tale. My favorite is the last of the short stories in this collection, Rain in the Evening, Reign in the Mourning. In this we see the overall aching melancholy and veiled beauty that Max Ink has been laying down since the first strip, but it is here that it's fully realized for the first time. It's a quite, sad and beautiful tale. Look at those clouds on page 85! And that lonely rose that quietly ends the book on page 90 sums everything up perfectly.
There's a lot of influential material in this book. Bill Watterson for sure and most notably, at least to me, Dave Sim. Check out Sam on Page 52, a clear throwback to Jaka in her dancing gown - and a lot of the progressive movement from panel to panel in one page shot split in threes or fours is very Sim like.
Some people communicate through song or poetry, spoken word or action. This is Max Ink's way of speaking to the world and he does a fantastic job. This is "Blink: So Far..."
And so far I'm very impressed and extremely pleased and can't wait to see more of Blink, Sam and Hank as Max Ink speaks to us through them. "Blink - So Far" is a rare Gem and you'd be lucky and proud to have it standing amidst the rest of your favorites on your bookshelf. This is a book worth reading because the author has a few things to say that are worth hearing. Enjoy!
Wanna see What Max Ink and Blink are up to? Why don't you check out the BLINK SITE HERE!