German cartoonist Max Baitinger’s recent book, Birgit illustrates the tale of an office administrator quietly confident at her job. However, one morning a new superior joins her company and begins to tell Birgit what to do. “Birgit knows that she is superior to her new superiors and could do her jobs with her left hand,” reads the biography. “But instead she sits idly before the screen saver and waits. At some point, Birgit packs a carton with her belongings and leaves the office.”
“Birgit is my third book and maybe the one that shows my preference for everyday anecdotes best,” Max tells It’s Nice That. The comically-dry narrative, currently published in German accompanied by an “amateur English” translation, was developed from Max’s working life. “I had a vague notion of Birgit and her bosses’ characters from personal experiences, so I started to collect scenes of how those two would collide and where that would take them.”
Set over a very short period of time, Max’s illustrations depict an immediate “I’m getting out of here” feeling: “I wanted to take the space to illustrate the moment of Birgit having the idea of instantly quitting and eventually really doing that.” To create the time span, Birgit is the first of Max’s comic books to be created using a complete storyboard. “The drawings were made with markers on a Bristol board and I used a light table to transfer sketches,” he explains. “For this work I used some references from Brughel monograph as well as pictorial dictionary from the the 90s.”
Max’s use of a contrasting teal green, light yellow and bright orange, however was unintentional. “It’s coloured in photoshop and printed in spot colours. The colours turned out a lot different from what I thought.” Yet, the unfamiliar mix of shades is one of Birgit’s stand out features, “It feels like the harder I try to control everything in making a book the more surprising my mistakes get.”
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