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Ink on Comics, Speaking Sequentially
by Matt Dembicki
Originally published in RapSheet
Published by the 
Small Press Syndicate

Max Ink loves comics. He loves talking about the process of making them even more. In fact, his appreciation for that process from developing ideas into stories, to applying the final strokes of ink onto a pencil sketch prompted him to create Sequentially Speaking, a not-for-profit group that aims to bring together creators and readers to discuss sequential art, which includes comic books, graphic novels and comic strips.

Sequentially Speaking is not a comic book convention, so you wont see dealers hawking antique or alternative comics; nor will you see scantily clad super hero costumed people roaming around. Its simply an opportunity for experienced and novice writers and artists to share their experiences, ideas and opinions in an informal atmosphere.

"For years Ive wanted to see something like this created. A grass roots kind of forum, made for the creators of the artform that Ive loved since I was 10 years old. I decided to stop waiting and create it myself," says Ink, a 33-year-old comic-book artist and writer who has created and published such acclaimed small-press comics such as Amoeba Adventures and Bolt.

One of the organizations strong points is its flexibility on format, as long as the goal to celebrate and promote sequential art as a contributor to literature, art and culture is attained. These include symposiums, workshops, gallery showings and public readings.

"So long as it gets people talking about comics as an art form, its Sequentially Speaking. The more people talk about quality graphic novels, the more the art is displayed for the general public to see, I believe eventually the entire community will come to appreciate comics in a whole new light."

SS kicked off its first gathering in January. More than two dozen sequential artist and writers gathered together in a library in Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, for two hours to talk about the medium. It not only drew in people who already appreciate comics, but also the curious, including local poets who were intrigued with the idea. This, of course, brings a smile to Max; Part of the mission of Sequentially Speaking is to show people the potential of comics and to foster an appreciation for them among a broader audience.

One attendee noted after the event in an e-mail, "(Sequentially Speaking) reminds me of the European scientists and their "think-tanks." They could discuss ideas and get other opinions or approaches to what they were working on."

Ink has ambitious plans for his organization. He plans to be present at various Mid-West region comic book conventions as well as literary and art events and fairs promoting Sequentially Speaking. "Most people don't even think of (the medium of) comics seriously when they think about prose writing or fine art. But when they are shown some of the exceptional work thats available, they have a difficult time denying its beauty and worth."

He already has garnered the interest of the Ohio State University's Cartoon Research Library and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts. "These organizations are well known in the community and give a sense of objectivity to the whole project and broaden the scope. SS will be working with schools, museums, booksellers and libraries its all about getting people talking."

Ink is also trying to take the movement to a national level. Working through the network of comic self-publishers, Ink has already fostered interest in creating chapters in other parts of the country. Fellow small-press comic creator Matt Dembicki has scheduled to hold a Sequentially Speaking event in Washington, D.C., in March.

"This is a great way for fellow creators in an area to come together to create a community that appreciates and encourages the art form," Dembicki says. He adds that he plans to schedule additional SS events this year in the capital area, and may even hold one of the gatherings at an outdoor venue this summer.

To keep members informed of these events and other news, Ink launched a Web site for the group where members and the others can get more information and read about recent and upcoming SS events.



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