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!

Gem City Comic-Con Recap!

I had another phenomenal convention experience last weekend at Gem City Comic-Con. It was my first time to Dayton. Spoiler: probably won’t be my last.

Gem City is very much a comic show, and I appreciate that. I did the most commissions I’ve done in a single day in a long time that first day. And it wasn’t just Pony stuff (though there was that, of course), but I had some interesting Star Wars commissions, even a “draw Uncle Ben and Aunt May… and wheatcakes” commission that’s my favorite one that I’ve done in some time.

I had a couple great dinners with some great friends and got to do the Drink and Draw for the event, too. I love how many local breweries there are in general, and Twisted Wing even brewed a special Gamma Ray Bomb IPA for the event. It was good, but I’m not an IPA fan. I had a few of their other beers though and loved them.

And I got to hang out next to Christy Blanch most of the show, which compounded the fun. Of course, some of that is just sitting next to her and ruining DC TV shows for her. Ask her, she’ll be glad to share the experience.

Christy also hosted a drawing panel with me, Kyle Starks and Scott McMahon . It was a great panel. We all played well off each other, many laughs were had, and I think we all learned something. Like why I’ll never get a tattoo.

Gem City was a delight, and another convention that treated me like a star. It’s all those little things that go a long way to making the experience so enjoyable. So thank you, Gem City! We’ll meet again!

Great Lakes Comic-Con

This past weekend, I was a guest at Great Lakes Comic-Con. It was my first time at this show, and I had a wonderful time. Mike DeSantis runs a great show and he and his staff took great care of me and the other guests.

This was my first show of the year and it was a great way to start. The standout had to be Ellie, the little girl in the photo above. She was so excited and having so much fun, it was just the most awesome thing and my absolute favorite thing about my career.

I didn’t get a chance to meet him, but Nicholas Hammond (the 70s Spider-Man) seemed like he was the nicest person, which is great to see. I got to hear some stories from Jim Shooter and Bill Messener-Loebs. And, of course, I spent a lot of great time with Tony Isabella and, the Dean to my Sammy, Paul Storrie. I look forward to seeing them at more shows this year.

I did a decent number of commissions, too. Lots of funs ones, like Doctor Aphra and Lightning Lass as well as some of the more common ponies. And, I even got to play several rounds of The Shadow pinball machine courtesy of the fine folks at Big Toys. They did a glorious job restoring what might be my favorite pinball machine. I love how they replaced a lot of the lights with LEDs. If this is a crazy successful year, maybe I’ll give them a call.

If the rest of my con season matches this show, it’ll be a great 2017.