Please excuse my absence on the blog. I’ve been working extra hard on KickStarter rewards and comic strips.

However, I wanted to share a little story with you.

You see, Christian (my collaborator on Validation) stopped by Wheeling on her way across the country. We got lunch at Later Alligator, a little local crepe restaurant in downtown, and if you haven’t been there, you REALLY need to go. Their crepes are delicious and have punny little names (like the Crepes of Wrath, Pesto Change-o, or the Crepe Escape. I had the Alligator Rock, and it’s delectable). They also have dessert crepes, like the S’mores Crepe. It’s as awesome as it sounds.

Anyway, after lunch, Christian and I saw some more sites, including a little bridge that will make an appearance in Charlie & Clow: The Case of the Wendigo.

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It goes by two names: The Bridge of Suicide Hill, or the 13 Million Dollar Mistake.

The story, as it was told to me, was that this was originally built near the medical center to act as a connecting road to a place on the other side of the hill. However, when engineers took a look at the inclines, they deemed it too steep to be considered safe.

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The bridge itself seems fine, but it connects to a street at an incline so steep that hauling trucks are not allowed on it. So the engineers closed the bridge when construction was finished, and it hasn’t been torn down since.

The funny part is, when you cross the bridge, on the other side of it, there is no road.

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The only thing on the other side is…woods. Lots and lots of woods.

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So… I drew it.

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I needed to get better at backgrounds anyway. Plus, not only is this good reference-building for Charlie & Clow, but it’s also building up references for Traveler’s Road – a story that travels on Interstate 70 and cuts through Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Wheeling is a surprising little city. Like, everybody brags about the urban decay present in Detroit – and sure, it has some – but there’s something about the urban decay in Wheeling, WV that’s so…mystically apocalyptic.

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There’s trees growing in abandoned stairwells, ghostly train tunnels left to rot for over 50 years, and of course, the aforementioned Bridge of Suicide Hill.

A lot of people local to the place want to get out as quickly as possible, and I can understand why – the city’s booming period was during the Industrial Revolution and when steel production was at its height. Sure, there’s a glut of oil and natural gas companies coming in to try and bring wealth into the region, but the process is slow, destructive, and unsustainable.

I get the feeling that over the next 100 years, this city will grow more and more to look like the Bridge or the abandoned stairwells. It’s about halfway there already.

Until then, I’m going to mine the crap out of these photo references and this apocalyptic city for its artistic inspiration.

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.