Volume 3 Finished At Last!

Ladies and gentlemen, Sunnyville Stories Volume 3 has been finished and put to bed at last!

After talking about the book for months, counting down the days and assembling all that I need, the book has finally been done.  Throughout yesterday and today, I assembled everything together to make one final clean copy.  That copy has just been sent to the printers; by next month, I should have a proof copy to review and two early copies to send to the US Library of Congress for their records.

From here on, things won’t be any easier.  First, I have to review my proof copy and make sure that everything is right.

Second, the book remains on schedule for its release on January 15, 2016.  From here on, I have to work to market the book, get it covered by the press, and get it to the customers.  In a while, I’ll be contacting vendors to let them know about the book and that it’s on schedule.

Third…my work is not over.  From here on, the story goes on as I will be drawing the stories for the next volume of Sunnyville.  I aim to get the fourth volume out by 2017.  That will be a whole other post.

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Q&A with Max West

[The following interview you are about to read is a promotional tool.  At the present, I’m assembling a press kit for Sunnyville Stories Volume 3.  A copy of this interview will be included for media outlets here in the Fargo-Moorhead area as well as other parts of North Dakota and Minnesota.  Anyway, please enjoy.]

Q: Tell us about yourself, Mr. West.  How about your background?

A:  I was born and raised in New York City.  From a young age, I loved to read and made regular visits to my local library.  Probably one of the biggest boons for me was my parents getting cable television.  The cable channels exposed me to animated films and specials from around the world; this further fueled my imagination.  I also liked to draw and for all these years, I kept working at it.

Q: So now you’re living in North Dakota.  How did you end up here?

A:  I left New York City in late 2012 and lived in Greensboro, North Carolina where I had family.  I worked down there as a freelancer.  In spite of critical acclaim and some paying jobs, I couldn’t support myself.  Ever since 2008, I had been hearing about North Dakota and how it had weathered the country’s economic woes.  So I came out here because of the low unemployment and low cost of living.

Q: How are you enjoying North Dakota?

A:  This is such a great state and I enjoy living in Fargo.  The city is beautiful and it’s not too big or too small.

Continue reading

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Anthrocon, More Conventions & The Last Starfighter

Hello, readers.  I have some announcements to make today.

First off, Sunnyville Stories #12 is being processed right now as this goes online.  Once that is put to bed, I expect to continue processing the digital files for Sunnyville Stories Volume 3.

Second, Anthrocon is less than a few weeks away in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It’s being held July 9-12 this year.  As you know, I have attended this event in years past.  As I now live in the Western United States, it’s not feasible to attend anymore so I will not be there this year.  There will be vendors there who will be selling my work and I will be actively promoting Sunnyville Stories during the event.

Speaking of conventions, I’m remaining on the local convention circuit here in Fargo.  My next events will be AnimeFargo, being held September 18-20, and ValleyCon, held about a month later on October 16-18.  I will be attending there mainly to network and to promote Sunnyville.  I’m strongly debating doing sales on next year’s circuit, but details on that will have to wait until I’ve got better plans.

The last bit of news for today is that I have chosen the epigraph for the third volume of Sunnyville Stories.  After debate, I decided to go with a line from the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter.  The line I chose is where the character of Centauri (Robert Preston) berates Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) on his decision not to be a Starfighter.

Centauri: Alex! Alex! You’re walking away from history! History, Alex! Did Chris Columbus stay home? Nooooo. What if the Wright Brothers thought that only birds should fly? And did Galoka think that the Ulus were too ugly to save?

Alex Rogan: Who’s Galoka?

Centauri: Never mind.


So why did I choose this?  Centauri is essentially throwing down a challenge to Rogan.  I had my doubts about whether or not to turn Sunnyville Stories into a full-blown saga.  Now, I’m working on my third volume in the series of ten planned volumes.

Sunnyville Stories Vol. 1 (ISBN 9780615653921) is still for sale on Amazon. Copies of Sunnyville Stories Volume 2 and Von Herling, Vampire Hunter are for sale right now at Great Stories. Check out Direct Textbook too for more details on my books!  And if you have an Amazon Kindle, get Sunnyville Stories Volume 1, Sunnyville Stories Volume 2 and Von Herling, Vampire Hunter for it today!

Comments? Questions? Fan letters? Interested in ordering books? You can write to:

Different Mousetrap Press LLC, 1100 19th Avenue N, #108, Unit J, Fargo ND 58102-2269


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There is justice after all

This is a special blog post.  I didn’t want to address the problem before but after something happened, I want to deal with this now out in the open.

Both here on the blog and out there in Internet land, there’s someone out there who has a personal grudge against both me and my work.  They’ve been leaving harassing and insulting comments here on the blog.  They’ve also been targeting me on Twitter.  What really takes the cake is that this cowardly bully has been posting bad reviews and bad ratings of Sunnyville all around the Internet.

I’m not able to identify this person as they use a variety of aliases, such as “G. Jon”, “James G” and “Tina Boo”.  This loser has been putting up bad reviews under the later two identities over on Goodreads.  This person, whoever they are, is very persistent and vicious so I don’t think they are some wacko.  In addition to posting up bad reviews, G Jon/James G/Tina Boo is quick to denounce any good reviews Sunnyville gets as being “fake”.

Anyway, I do have some fans out there and one of them is the independent author Phillip T. Stephens.  He’s a very eloquent intellectual who writes in Kindle format  (I may need to pick up his books one day) and he also enjoys Sunnyville.  He’s read some of them.  As you may recall, he recently featured me on a Goodreads post.  This praise did not sit well with G Jon/James G/Tina Boo, who hates my work and goes after anyone who gives me good reviews.

So under the name of “Tina Boo”, this coward went on about how Sunnyville is entirely plagiarized and even came up with a laundry list of everything that I have “stolen”.

Phillip’s response to G Jon/James G/Tina Boo was priceless.  It reads as follows:

Feels like you did a lot of research to find such compelling evidence against a comic I enjoy. To have sifted through so many episodes of so many comedies and then connected them to the anime must have taken a lot of time and thought. And I’m sure there was nothing personal behind it.

And I was not aware that Von Herling, Vampire Hunter resembled Bram Stoker’s Dracula, only in Sunnyville, either.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I definitely feel cheated out of the 2.99 I spent for Sunnyville Stories.

I have to admit that this response made me laugh so hard that I had tears coming out of my eyes.  It’s been ages since that happened.

It’s good to know that I have fans and it’s good to see that coward finally get told off.  I’ll bet that G Jon/James G/Tina Boo is NOT taking that response well.


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CoreCon 2015 Report

First, I want to announce that Sunnyville Stories #12 is FINALLY FINISHED after so many delays!  Now onto business…

I made it to CoreCon 2015 yesterday.  The event was bigger than FM ComiCon as it’s a four day event; today (Sunday 6/14/2015) is the last and final day.

CoreCon 2015 game room

This photo was of the tabletop gaming room.  It was only partly full when I got in but within an hour, it was near capacity.   Continue reading

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The Best of Indie Authors

I’m honored that I made a list of some recognizable indie authors over Goodreads.

Check it out here!

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Near the End of Number 12 and Volume 3

Some news to share, readers – I’ve been working nonstop on Sunnyville Stories #12 since this morning and have had to call it a day.  I’ve run out of steam and won’t be able to finish Sunnyville #12 tonight.  The good news is that it’s near completion.

Letters and panel borders getting inked

My arms are also sore from all the inking work I’ve done.  The story should finally be completed within the next few days.   Continue reading

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Wood Texture Drawn with Pen

Work continues on Sunnyville Stories #12.  Besides my usual Speedball 513 nib, I’ve been using other pen points in my drawing as well as the Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pens.

Close up of Rusty on Sunnyville Stories page

I’m quite pleased with how Rusty turned out here.  There was a time that I avoided nib pens on the grounds that I thought they were messy.  Thanks to Matt Madden, I now use them as my primary tool for drawing much like many other greats before me such as Bud Fisher, Elzie Segar, Charles Schulz and so on.   Continue reading

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Reality Check

First, I want to wish a happy birthday to Kevin Eastman today – he’s one of the two creators of the pop culture smash hit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Moving on, I have something serious to discuss today.  It’s about working in comics, creating them, marketing them and what it’s like in general to be part of the business.  My words apply mainly to the United States and to a lesser extent, Canada.  I cannot speak for what goes on in Japan or Europe.

Some of you out there may have romanticized visions of what I do or what others do.  (Maybe not me so much if any of the negative comments from losers are any indication.)  You may think many of us live this glamorous lifestyle where we have lots of money, get mobbed by fans as we walk down the street, and get truckloads of fan mail.  You may think we just throw something onto paper or the computer screen with little effort and the money just flows in as tons of fans adore our work.

It’s time for a big reality check to each and everyone of you who think this way – our lives are NOTHING like that.  Many of us struggle.  Many of us, even those with publishers, need to work to market ourselves.  Many of us may get some, little or even no recognition at all!  Many of us may have to take on inane work or even (GASP!) day jobs to help pay the bills.  Many of us have to meet deadlines and plan ahead accordingly.  Once you finish one job, you can’t stop to rest and bask in your glory.  You have to move on to your next job and that holds especially true for those working in the mainstream (that is, superhero comics from Marvel and DC).

Look at me.  I’ve got some fans here and there, occasionally get fan mail and have landed my book in the collections of various libraries.  But things are not a bed of roses for me.  I work various jobs to pay my bills.  I work to market myself through my blog, social media, direct mail and word of mouth.  On top of all that, I have to plan out, write, draw and publish while doing the same for future work.

Does that sound glamorous to you?  It shouldn’t because it is not.  In spite of what I have achieved, I still have a long way to go.

I may not see any form of success for a long time.  That’s the reality for comics and commercial art as well as fine art.  Look at the fine artists Roy Lichtenstein and Edward Hopper.  Both men were in their forties when they finally hit the big time.  Look at Charles Schulz, an influence to me (and many others).  The first ten years of the Peanuts comic strip (1950-1960) were not easy for him.  Only seven newspapers carried Peanuts when it launched on October 2, 1950.  After six months, two of those seven newspapers dropped Peanuts!  Does that sound glamorous to you?

To all those who want to create your own comics and maybe even try to make a living at it, I’m not trying to discourage you.  You need a reality check.

Success is not instant, if it comes at all.  It is hard work and even if you do everything right, you may never reap any rewards at all.

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The Working Area

Work is continuing on Sunnyville #12 but I thought I’d show you the workspace I use and the surrounding area.

Drawing table layout

This is where I draw.  I use a flat surface, though some out there prefer surfaces that are more tilted.  I keep reference materials here like my model sheets and character drawings.  Many of my tools are here too like brushes, pens, pencils, erasers, and other things.  I keep at least one lamp and a bigger lamp to provide plenty of light.  I also like to have Mountain Dew Kickstart or Rockstar brand energy drinks on hand to keep me going.   Continue reading

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