Behind the Scenes of Warning Label, Chapter One

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!

The Inspiration for Time and Vine, Part Two

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.

Northeast Ohio has some spectacular wineries. They are some of my favorite places to visit. I don’t know how well known the area is for those wineries, but it should be known. They’re awesome.

Through a weird confluence of events, someone I went to grade school, Joel, with is the sommelier at Debonne Vineyards here in Ohio. And Ed, the winemaster and brewmaster? I went to high school with him, and his sister and I were in the same art class.

So, I was able to trade on that and get a tour of the winery. It was invaluable to my experience. I learned a lot about wineries and how wine is made. When you’re writing a book like this, sometimes you just need to know what kind of background to draw in a scene. Your scene may have nothing to do with actually making wine, but it should look like the room they’re in really does make wine.

One of the coolest things they have is Cask Wine. It’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in a French oak barrel. Every year, they remove a third of the barrel and bottle it. The space is then filled with the best wine of this year. It is such a cool idea that I almost stole it outright for my book… except cask wines have no vintage date. And I thought I needed that more than anything else.

I couldn’t have written this book without that trip.

I’m taking tomorrow off for FCBD, where I’ll be signing at Aw Yeah Comics in Muncie, Indiana. But Monday, maybe I’ll tell you about another one of my favorite wineries.

The Inspiration for Time and Vine

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.

When I got the idea for a time travel story featuring a winery, I immediately started researching wineries in the United States. It didn’t take too long to stumble upon the Brotherhood Winery in the Hudson Valley in New York state. The place had been in operation from about the time of the Civil War and is the oldest winery in the United States.

From the outset, I wanted a winery on the east coast. California is certainly known for it’s wineries, but I wanted to be able to tie into the American history available on the east: Civil War, electrification of Niagara Falls, all sorts of things. And weather! I could do fall, winter, whatever. Brotherhood became a great source of inspiration.

I got the book of their history and learned how they survived Prohibition through making church wine and that champagne was still made because it was considered medicinal. It’s been through three owners. It was a perfect place to start my story.

Of course, I had to take a trip there. You know, for research! Some friends and I took the tour, bought some wine and cider… whoa, is their cider good… and learned a lot about the place that hopefully anchors my story nicely.

And I bought some wine. Including a bottle that’s waiting for me to finish the last page!

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about a local Ohio winery and how important that, and grade school, was to the story!