Blink: So Far
Max Ink, one of my favorite minicomic creators, has just collected much of his work as Blink: So Far. This 96-page, black-and-white volume contains the stories from “Up Leaves Fall Down”, “Experiencing Creative Difficulties”, “Barefoot in America, Breakfast in the Park”, and “Breathe in Beat”, as well as additional pieces that have appeared in anthologies.
But the book doesn’t contain the “creatorial” illustrated author notes or sketchbook back sections with comments that also appeared in the minicomics. It’s as though Max has removed the personal touch to focus more on the content. Normally, when minicomics (or more often, these days, webcomics) are collected, the artist adds notes to provide something extra for the long-time customer, but in this case, this book might be Max’s break-through to well-deserved greater attention. If he wants the work to speak for itself, that’s a fine choice — I just note that he’s moving counter to the trend.
Which describes his work as well. It’s quiet and reflective, the opposite of the high-concept ready-for-the-movies genre comics taking up so much attention these days. “Blink” is about three friends; two women and a guy; a cartoonist (Blink), a grumpy best friend (Sam), and a musician (Hank). They walk and talk and observe and comment. They work crosswords or visit a park or play in the snow or struggle with creative issues. Mostly, they spend time together, with a strong sense of place and awareness of their surroundings.
It’s 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.
The work in this book was created over a decade, so it won’t be surprising to note growth in the art as you read through it. I like that. The basics are there in the beginning, but as Max becomes more accomplished in his work and more comfortable with his characters, the lines are more solid, the emotions more palpable. Like the subject matter, the art is not flashy, but substantial, quietly impressive.
I have high hopes for a second volume to follow this one. There are two minicomics of “Blink Strips” that don’t appear here. Neither do two mini-minis, which happen to be my favorites, but “Let It Be… As It Is” (about the transformative power of music) and “FYI, IDK” (keeping the personal in a technology-heavy world) are both available from the artist as free samples. Find out more at Max Ink’s website or read Blink: So Far in total before deciding to buy. (The publisher provided a review copy.)