Want to know how to vote in the Ringo Awards (and how to vote for Warning Label and me? Read on!)
I’m not sharing details yet, but… yeah, I’m bringing Mark and Abby back. Happy Valentine’s Day!
I’m running another Clip Studio giveaway contest to promote the debut of Cupid’s Arrows over at Webtoon!
The awesome folks at Clip Studio have given me a copy of their Clip Studio Paint Pro software to give out! I love Clip Studio and use it almost every day. Long Distance, Time and Vine, and Warning Label, as well as the forthcoming Cupid’s Arrows were all drawn using it, as well as several of my My Little Pony covers, my Tsum Tsum cover. I couldn’t live without it, and I think you’ll like it, too.
So, I’m running a contest on Instagram. There are two ways to enter.
I’ve made easy-to-repost images of my projects. Pick your favorite and post it to your timeline, along with the hashtag #thomzclipstudio and BAM! You’re entered. (if you want to say why you like or picked that one, I’d certainly appreciate that too, but it’s not necessary.)
Post an image of your comic, along with the same #thomzclipstudio hashtag and then you’re entered, too.
The contest will run from now until 12:01AM Eastern Time, December 1, 2019. Then I’ll randomly select a winner from all the entries and contact you. Be sure to follow me on Instagram, too, so that I can message you.
Below are handy, Instagram-friendly images, along with direct links if that’s easier for you. Good luck!
Harlan Ellison died yesterday. He was my friend.
Harlan has a reputation for cantankerousness. It was well deserved. In the documentary about him, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, Robin Williams says that essentially, most people determine which fights are worth fighting, but to Harlan, every fight was worth fighting. I think that’s accurate. Honestly, I think there were only three kinds of people in his life. His best friends, his hated enemies, and people he hadn’t met yet.
But he was also kind and funny and generous. He walked Love and Capes into IDW... twice. The first time was a kindness. The second time, that’s just straight up crazy. But he could be crazy like that.
i feel like Harlan deserves to live on in stories. So here’s one of mine.
Roger Price, Bob Ingersoll and I were in LA and going to head over his house. After Comic-Con there were regular pilgrimages of comics people to see him. We were the afternoon shift, but he hadn’t eaten, so we started discussing lunch. Well Bob was, on the phone with him. Harlan asked what kind of food we’d like.
Trying to be helpful, I said “not seafood or Chinese.” I’m allergic to seafood, and the one time I’d had Chinese it didn’t sit well with me.
‘Then Bob and Harlan talk a little bit. “Zahler says not seafood or Chinese. He’s allergic to seafood. Uh huh. Yeah. I don’t know.” Then Bob turned around and handed me the phone. “Harlan wants to talk to you.”
Okay, I loved Harlan. But I’m not going to say the man didn’t intimidate me, too. I was afraid he might talk me into swallowing my own tongue, like Miggs in Silence of the Lambs.
Then it was a blur. I remember telling him about the last time I had Chinese food and that it just wasn’t great and I had it near Cleveland, not far from where he lived and...
...I handed the phone back to Bob “Were having Chinese.”
Then over at his house, we had great conversations, I sat in the most strangely comfortable wooden block chair. He read from one of his stories. And then the food came and we gathered in his kitchen. And then, Harlan Ellison, legend of the industry, man who wrote one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek (okay, you know what I mean), my favorite Twilight Zone and more, sat next to me through the whole meal, and guided me through the meal. He told me what everything was, made sure I was staying away from any seafood, and just played Virgil through the whole thing.
And yes, it was Goddamned delicious.
So much so that, when there was one piece of fried tofu left, I asked to have it in my polite midwestern way. But the late afternoon shift of visitors came in and he told the story of me and the Chinese food, except now I was more aggressive. When he told it again, I was virtually breaking my chopsticks into shivs, holding them to his throat lest I not have the last wonton.
His story was better.
Then a couple years later we were at his home and we decided to get dinner Harlan said “what about Thai?”
”I’ve never had it,” I said. “But let’s go.”
My condolences go to his friends, fans, and his wife Susan. The world was a much better and more interesting place with Harlan it and I’m going to miss him
When Free Comic Book Day started, I didn’t particpate. It didn’t seem like the kind of day for the pro user, as we Mac guys might say, to be in the way of the new people. Like, if you work at Baskin Robbins, stay out of the way of Free Scoop Day, right?
That all changed when I did a book for the event. Love and Capes #4 was my first FCBD book. John Gallagher was kind enough to share some great advice for me starting out. And, self-publishing, I was already ahead of the game convincing my boss. So, I took the flyer and did it.
Marc Bowker brought my out to Alter Ego Comics to do a signing that year. My first time in a shop for the event. And after that, it changed for me. I saw the draw of being a professional in the store, even if I didn’t have a book out that year. It was a special time where cartoonists are treated a little like rock stars, and they get to me a whole new world of fans and friends.
I did three more Love and Capes issues for FCBD. It was, hands down, the best promotion I ever did and it’s a huge part of the reason Love and Capes found an audience and I have the level of success that I do. And even though I haven’t done an issue since 2011, it’s still one of my favorite days of the year. I’ve done every one since (with the exception of my Godkids’ two unfortunately-scheduled First Communions… and even one of those I did a midnight event).
I used to have the goal of doing every state in the union for FCBD. I’ve doubled up on Ohio, Indiana, Texas and Delaware though, which means at this rate, if I want to hit that, I’ll probably need to be doing this until I’m 100.
I’m okay with that.
It's always nice to do a show in my hometown. I can sleep in my own bed, show off my city to new people, and I know where the best parking and food is. So I always like doing Wizard World Cleveland.
It's also nice being able to see friends I only see there, people I went to school with and used to work with. (I'm looking at you George and Dave.)
I didn't do any panels this time, so I managed to log the whole show at my table, which was nice. My brain kicked into overdrive about my new Kickst… wait, I can't talk about that yet. Never mind. Anyway, it's sometimes boring behind the table. But boring is where your brain starts to think of new things. These days, it's so easy to program your entire day with content on your phone (and don't think I'm not mainlining The Adventure Zone right now) that we forget the value of letting our brain rev for a few cycles.
I even wrote a couple scenes of something else I can't talk about, too.
Sales were decent, and I picked up more stuff at the show than I do at others because I could just toss it in the car. And, for the third time this post, I can't say what, because they're gifts for people. I was disappointed there was no Captain America shield for sale at this show. I want one because who knows when Hydra will attack, and I'd rather not have to try to fit it in a suitcase. And I don't think I can just strap it on my back and get on a plane. Can I?
After the show ended, I actually headed to the Jack Casino where the Wonder Woman slot machine was very kind to me. The blackjack tables less so, but still fun.
And before the show, at the advice of my friend Dee, I went to the Cleveland Public Library and saw the Superman exhibit they have there, which was very nice.
It's one of those truisms of life that we don't take advantage of the things nearest to us. Cleveland has a lot of awesome stuff, and I mostly only see it when someone's in from out of town. So it was great to have the opportunity to experience a little more of the city.
I've been remiss about not taking about my first time attending Planet Comicon. Some of that was general busyness, but I was also fighting the tail end of a battle with the Vulcan Death Cold. So some of it is a blur.
The trip started off on a hiccup: Chicago was fogged in and all the flights through there, including mine, were cancelled. Southwest managed to fly me out through Baltimore (yes, the wrong way for those of you geographists) and I had a chunk of time to kill at the airport. But, on the upside, I got a similarly sized chunk of writing done on A New Project I Can't Talk About Yet.
Friday the show started and it was great. Sales were solid, fans were fantastic (including a chunk of Warning Label fans, which is still new to me) and I even got to appear on TV on the local NBC and Fox affiliates to help promote the show. Yeah, it meant getting up early, but we make these sacrifices for our art.
Sunday, I did a Girl Scout panel where a bunch of artists came in and taught cartooning. Weirdly, this is my second time doing that in the last three months. It's apparently a niche. But better yet, they gave us Girl Scout Cookies as compensation. I went Thin Mints, because I'm a classic kind of guy.
Also, Sunday night, Emily and I went to the Pawn and Pint, a local gaming bar, where she mopped the floor with me in Carcassonne and then we went to see Black Panther at the Alamo Drafthouse. I've only been to an Alamo once before and it was just as fun as I remembered. We were treated to a history of Black Panther as well as a montage of Angela Bassett being awesome in Strange Days before Chadwick Boseman ordered us to turn off our phones. And then we watched the movie while drinking alcoholic milkshakes. Oh, yeah, and we totally got those Francesco Francavilla glasses, too!
In general, I loved that Power and Light District. I saw a little bit of it when I was out for Canterlot KC, but I didn't get to spend time there. It reminded me of a landlocked version of Cleveland's Flats from back in the day.
Kansas City was a great time and a great show. I hope I get the chance to go back sometime. But preferably not sick.
I had a great time this past weekend at the Great Lakes Comic-Con in Warren, Michigan. It's my second year at the show, and I had an even better time than the year before. The show has a great group of attendees. Everyone is so friendly and nice. And the show is run really well, too. The guests are very well taken care of.
It's a bellwether of how my career has changed. I had lots of people come up and mention Warning Label, which is very heartening. And I have Time and Vine out in trade now, too. Both those things are new since the last time I visited, and it's nice to see they're finding an audience.
I also did some TV for the local Warren station, and a great podcast interview with The Geekend Update, too! I'll let you know when they appear in the world.
And best of all, I got to spend time with new friends like Arvell Jones, and old ones, like my Con Brother Paul Storrie, who I haven't seen since far too long.
If you're ever near this show, I recommend checking it out!
Today is the first Thursday I haven’t woken up to a bunch of comments on Warning Label. Straight up, I miss my readers most of all.
Warning Label kind of came out of nowhere for me. When I had the opportunity to pitch Webtoons, I pitched what I thought were three solid concepts. And I had this fourth, back-pocket idea that wasn’t fully fleshed out about a girl cursed by her ex-boyfriend. But they’d never pick that one, right?
You know how that went.
Warning Label became one of my favorite stories ever. It might be the best thing I’ve written so far. (So far being hugely important.) It was real, it was raw, and it was emotional. I didn’t expect it to resonate with me or the audience the way it did. But it did, and I am so grateful for that.
I really want to thank Webtoons for picking it and for giving me the space to tell the story. Originally, it was supposed to be 26 chapters. Obviously, it went 39, and those expansions were organic to the story. I can’t imagine them without it.
I’ll admit, the first one came about because I was coming back from San Diego and Comic-Con and I didn’t want to draw the big party scene in what became Chapter Eleven. Danielle’s first encounter with Rachel broke into two. There was more, but having the freedom to expand the original outline made things flow so much better.
When the time came to end it, I realized that I would end the week before Valentine’s Day. And I realized ending on Valentine’s Day was too good not to do, so I added another chapter, 35. That gave me room to show that Jeff and Danielle still had feelings without saying it out loud. I love that chapter.
Warning Label challenged me to become a better storyteller and a better artist. Look at some of the expressions in Chapter 35. The artist who started drawing this wasn’t capable of those when he started. My character designs and cartooning got better as I went.
And the pace. I was drawing five complete pages a week. All tallied up, this is a 208 page graphic novel. It’s the longest single piece I’ve done, and at a speed I’ve never worked before. And I think it made me better. Those things often do.
It was hard ending the story, even though it was planned all along. Danielle was always going to clear her list and become the person capable of having the relationship she wanted. It was the true thing to do. Any more would have been indulgent. But let’s answer a couple of questions.
I ended it without seeing the wedding or the proposal intentionally. As far as the wedding, honestly, whatever you the reader come up with is going to be better and ring truer than whatever I would have drawn. It’s collaborative storytelling.
As far as the proposal, how it happens is not as important as that it will happen. And besides, this is very much Danielle’s story. It needed to end with Danielle having a moment only she could have. And her taking everything that had happened to her and turning it into a game is her resolving moment. That’s the button to the story. And it’s uniquely her. To end with the proposal would have diluted that. It would have been their moment, and it had to end with Danielle alone.
Best of all through this whole experience has been the fans. I’d never had that immediate, instant connection with my readers. Part of that is the Webtoons format, part of that is the connection the strip created. I would stay up until midnight every posting night to see the comments come in. When I didn’t feel like doing the strip, those comments kept me going. When I was drawing something hard that I did’t want to, those comments kept me going. And when I didn’t think I could hit the raw emotion or honestly I needed to, those comments kept me going.
I’m glad you found Warning Label, and I’m so glad I found you. I could type “thank you” for paragraphs and paragraphs and not be able to express how much I appreciate all of you, your interest and your support.
I’m working on new stuff. Can’t say what yet, but it’s more than one thing and will show up in more than one place. When I can tell you, I’ll tell you here and on Twitter and Instagram. I’m not done making things, and hopefully you’re not done reading them. Until then, too, I’m at a bunch of conventions, too. Drop by and see me.
And maybe Warning Label isn’t completely gone, either. I’d love to see a trade paperback sometime. And who knows, maybe even a movie. You’d go see it, right? And I could cameo as Ben the bartender.
One last time, thank you so much for reading the story and being part of mine. You’ll never know what it means to me. And I’ll see you soon!