Behind the Scenes of Warning label, Chapter Four

About the Author

Man's man, ladies' man, man about town. Friend to small children and animals. The greatest criminal mind of our time. Occasional cartoonist and writer. Also, very tall.

    Behind the Scenes of Warning label, Chapter Four

    First off, yes, I got the math wrong! Six bucks times two is twelve. The discount is wrong. I originally priced the burritos at eight bucks, so it would have been $16.00, and the ten percent discount would have been $14.40… and yes, I still got the math wrong, But only by forty cents. I apologize to all of you, Mr. Yanosko my high school algebra teacher, and numbers in general.


    After the dramatic ending of Chapter Three, Chapter Four needed to be a little more low-key. And, as much as the last one, this one sets the parameters for the story. I’m going to reveal some stuff I haven’t revealed before, and while they’re not spoilers, they are very specific.

    The important takeaway from this chapter is this: Danielle doesn’t have to change her mind, she has to change her attitude. I thought this through a lot in the concept for the strip. She doesn’t have to become a different person, but hopefully a better one. It’s all about broadening her horizons.

    The burrito truck setting came about because my Man on the Ground in Austin Bill told me that these trucks are very, very popular. So, when I had to have them spend a little extra time, a burrito truck was so much more interesting than a coffee shop. (But, for those of you who know my work, don’t worry, there will be coffee in the strip.)

    This one’s kind of light on detail. There’s no clever reason behind the name Deja Baja, other than I thought it was funny. Their discussion i pretty straightforward, and the biggest challenge was making the visual of two people sitting and talking funny.

    Behind the Scenes of Warning Label, Chapter Three

    Sometimes It’s Just Staring You in the Face

    From the beginning, there was always a moment where Jeff would give Danielle a warning label of his own. It’s one of the things that hopefully makes it more than just about one person changing for another, it’s going to go both ways. But, I didn’t always know when. It was a generic “at some point he’ll do it”.

    Webtoons encouraged me to think of the first three chapters as one larger block, since they’d release at the same time. Once I realized that, I realized Jeff would have to do it on their first date. It’s the big gesture that Danielle responds to. How I didn’t see that before, I don’t know.

    I Love Digital Art

    The chains for that cool scene on the swings? I drew it once and then reused it over and over. That would have taken me forever if I was drawing in the real world.

    A Question from the Message Boards

    One of the things I saw on the Webtoons message boards was this: Didn’t Jeff get her number? So let me answer that right now. Yes, he did. There’s a jump in time from when they leave the park to when they’re kissing in front of her door. Lots of stuff happened there. And he got her number.

    So why does he run back and not text her? He’s caught up in the moment. She’s right there, he’s barely crossed the street and he can just tell her. How can he not tell her?

    Also, let’s be honest, it’s better visually and romantically for him to run back as Lifehouse or plays in the background of the scene in the eventual movie of this strip, right?

    Behind the Scenes of Warning Label, Chapter Two

    Once again, I wrote myself into a corner. “They have an awesome date.” Easy to write the sentence, hard to write the story.

    But, I’ve been to a couple gaming bars here in town. I like them a lot. Side Quest and Tabletop. But since I was setting Danielle to work at a Cards Against Humanity type place, going to a gaming bar made a lot of sense. Jeff figuring out that she might like going there would score him points with her. And since she works at such a place, it’d give me the opportunity to have her show him up and have Jeff just roll with it.

    It’s fun making up the names to the games, too. Fortress Unicorn is just supposed to be silly. Sohmer’s Day is named after Ryan Sohmer of The Least I Could Do. Zoe’s Quest is named after my friend Kara’s daughter.

    in Long Distance, the lead characters have a lengthy geek-tastic conversation. I don’t want to cover the same ground with this series. So, I tried to keep the references to a minimum. But the warp/impulse line was too good to pass on. Not that I don’t want to write banter, though. I’d say the closing walking line covers that.

    You’ll notice Jeff mentions watching movies when he grew up. That will be touched on again.

    Behind the Scenes of Warning Label, Chapter One

    I’m going to try to do a post about Warning Label every week to coincide with the new strips. As I type this, we’re in the second week of the strip, and chapter four just went live today. So I’m going to start no with chapter one so there’s a three week buffer. No one will accidentally read spoilers here. And please, check out the strip over at WebToons if you haven’t yet.


    Oops, I Did It Again

    I got the opportunity to pitch some strips to Webtoons, and was thrilled to do so. They were the most interested in Warning Label, and while I was thrilled, there’s also a world of difference between the pitch and the strip. You can pitch They hit it off at the bar but then you have to figure out why and how that actually plays. No easy feat.

    I had to flesh out the characters. I’ve been listening to the Do By Friday podcast, which has Merlin Mann, Alex Cox and Max Temkin. Alex and Max work at Cards Against Humanity, and fan on the games that I am, that seemed like an interesting workplace to set a story. So Danielle went there. And I love movies and the Alamo Drafthouses. I figured that would be a good place for Jeff. And it meant both of them could have convenient schedules so I could place them where I needed.

    Color My World

    So, Webtoons suggested that I do a limited color strip, kind of like my previous book Long Distance. Webtoons knows their business, so I decided to take their advice. But I’d already done duotones to show location. I try to do something new in each project.

    I took the colors of a warning label: red, yellow and black (though, in this case, a dark brown so I could get some warm grays) and made that my template. I mixed those in the way cyan, magenta and yellow are mixed in traditional printing. That gave me a very specific palette to work with. It was limited color, but not the same as what I did before.

    It did make me change some of the strip, though.

    The original pitch set the story in Seattle. But the red/yellow/brown palette was stuck in my head. I thought it worked. But I couldn’t make something so sun-scorched feel like Seattle. It felt wrong. But Austin… hey, those colors work great for Austin. And I wanted to do the Alamo Drafthouse anyway. And on top of that, there are video game companies in Texas. That informed Danielle’s backstory.

    My friend Bill Williams gave me some on the ground perspective that helped make it feel more like Austin. You’ll see more of that as the strip goes on.

    So the Bartender Moved

    From the original idea, I always wanted the bartender to be named “Ben” after my good friend Ben Thompson, writer of several history books including the Badass of the Week series (for which I’ve done some art). And Ben lives in Seattle.

    But when I moved the story to Austin, Ben had to come with it.

    Okay, that’s it for this one. Hope you liked it, because there will be more!

    The Inspiration for Time and Vine, Part Four

    My new book, Time and Vine, is coming out from IDW in July. Previews order code MAY170517. In a shameless effort to promote it, I’m going to be sharing some stories about making the book here.

    This one’s going to have to be a little oblique, because the book’s not out yet.

    Last year, when I was at Denver Comic-Con, I stopped at Stout Street Social with Sean Tiffany and some friends. There, I saw some really cool wine bottle displays. I’ve got a blurry photo here. But it was really cool looking, and I had to borrow it.

    There’s a Thing that happens in issue one that I needed some solution for. And when I saw these wine displays, I remembered going to the late, lamented Potpourri in Mentor, Ohio. They had bottles built into their booths, and each bottle was signed with a note about whatever event that party was celebrating. So Happy Birthday or We Got Engaged or whatever.

    The Stout Street Social display keyed that memory and, when you see the book, you’ll see the problem it solved. Sometimes, it’s not the big things, like winery tours or history books, but the little things that inspire you.

    The Inspiration for Time and Vine, Part Three

    My new book, Time and Vine, is coming out from IDW in July. Previews order code MAY170517. In a shameless effort to promote it, I’m going to be sharing some stories about making the book here.

    Free Comic Book Day took a little more out of me than I expected, so I’m a bit late with this update,. Doctor Christy Blanch runs a great shop at Aw Yeah Comics Muncie. Also, I have it on good authority that she’ll be glad to order a copy of Time and Vine for you, too!

    A year or two ago I was exploring some Northeast Ohio wineries. One caught my eye and I had to stop. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before (I didn’t miss anything. It was new.) It was the Hundley Cellars.

    It’s got a great feel to it, kind of a rustic cabin feel. Big fireplace, lots of wood and comfy chairs. And it’s got some of my favorite food, especially the chocolate brownie pretzel dessert. Oh my goodness, get one if you go there! So very very tasty.

    They also use Uno cards as your table signs to bring you your food. It’s a great blend of classy and fun.

    The big fireplace at Hundley, you’ll see that in Time and Vine. The main room and counter are certainly inspired by Hundley, Before I had a chance to tour Debonne or Brotherhood, this was in my head as I built the Aeternum Winery. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to stop by!