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!