Don't ***** Or You'll Miss It
Blink: So Far (ONWARDStudio): This title is a nicely produced package, marking writer/artist Max Ink’s first feature length foray into the medium. It collects disparate mini-comics and anthology contributions from 2004 to 2010, featuring his unlikely female duo Sam and Blink. 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. At times early on, Ink’s dialogue felt a bit staged; it didn’t roll off the speaker’s tongues in a natural way. I caught myself occasionally grumbling “this isn’t the way real people talk,” but as the strips progressed, I saw Ink’s ear for dialogue improving considerably and that concern faded. 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. Max Ink is able to convey an entire emotional spectrum in just one static shot. The best example is a full page shot of his wiped out protagonist slumped over a desk having succumbed to writer’s block. There’s no dialogue, no words whatsoever, but he’s able to perfectly emote the feelings that anyone who has struggled with a creative endeavor can immediately identify with. It’s the kind of self-evident page I’d want to own. The overall pen and ink style is full of fine line detail, painstaking cross-hatching, and attention to light sources, shadows, and negative space. Ink isn’t afraid to dabble/pay homage to the wry understated comedy of something like Calvin & Hobbes, and also experiments with social intersection. If you follow the life of the Indians baseball cap, it’s an interesting culmination of the stories of two sets of characters. Ink touches on our motivations in life, achieving that delicate work/life balance, and it literally all comes crashing down in the “lightning and loss” sequence (my words, not his), which is really touching. At first I found myself thinking that Sam was a little unlikable, especially upon their meeting of musician Hank, and that Blink was perhaps a little too naïve, but as these love/hate relationships continued, I remembered that it’s realism which disturbs us, and the ability to evoke such a reaction usually meets my generic definition of “art.” There was another series like this that ran for years featuring two quirky females, and it was called Strangers In Paradise. Ink has the talent and the style that is capable of creating such an opus given the right commitment. For now, I’m glad to see that Ink jumped in to “work with what he’s got right now,” because I’m anxiously awaiting more. Grade A.