Tag Archives: the case of the wendigo

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What Inspired Charlie & Clow?

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charlie and clow the case of the wendigo panel

Charlie & Clow, Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc, and The Case of the Wendigo all sprang from one initial idea I had when I was in college.

I want to say it was around 2009 or 2010 when I thought of the original story – in the original, Charlie wasn’t the main character. The story, instead, focused on a red-haired character named Margot.

Margot (pronounced “MAR-go”) was a lead singer in a punk band dating Charlie, who in this story was the lead guitarist. Charlie’s brother, Jared (who in this version was much beefier) was the drummer. All three made an appearance in my first minicomic, Breakfast for Dinner, which is now out of print (and will stay that way).

This version of the story, with Margot in the lead, had two drafts. In draft 1, Charlie was kidnapped by a demon and Margot had to team up with Jared and a guardian angel named Clow to go into the spirit world and rescue her. Draft 2 had the band narrowed down to Charlie and Margot, and both died in a car accident on their way to a gig, and Clow helps them navigate the spirit world.

I finished chapter 1 of both versions and dropped them. Because I didn’t like the directions they were going, which was that they had NO direction. There was no set end goal.

Plus, every time I went to make tweaks, I found myself drawn more towards Charlie than Margot. I wanted to know what Charlie was up to, and in my imagination, she was way more engaging and talkative than Margot ever was. Margot was secretive – Charlie was open and engaging. So I made her the lead.

Margot’s design stuck around, though – she was the inspiration for Claudia’s final design.

charlie and clow the case of the wendigo claudia

The two are very different in personality though. Margot was abrasive, crass, violent – very stereotypical punk. Claudia is more Gothic Lolita in look, but very mature and calm in demeanor.

Jared, Charlie’s brother, makes an appearance in Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc, but as an extra – and this time he’s a rock climbing instructor instead of a drummer.

charlie and clow the bonus arc comic strip jared

The drummer aspect was put into Rob, the drummer of Roxie’s band in the Validation bonus comics.

validation roxie bonus comics

So once I did the main character shift, I thumbnailed the first draft of Charlie & Clow…and I LOVED it! I had WAY more fun writing and drawing for it. Charlie was just the main character I was looking for, and the world she occupied was more interesting for me to explore.

charlie and clow comic page 12Of course, a more interesting world couldn’t be contained in only 24 pages. That’s why I made Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc, and now I’m making The Case of the Wendigo.

charlie and clow the case of the wendigo comic page 23I actually tried pitching the trilogy under one name to Oni Press, but got rejected – I think that was around the time that the company picked up comics like The Mighty Zodiac and Merry Men, though, so I can’t complain.

Besides, it was a learning experience, and helped me realize that the original pitch was pulling the story too long – the pitch had at least two chapters after The Case of the Wendigo, but I realized they were unnecessary. And by unnecessary, I mean that the characters (Charlie, Clow, and the rest) would have finished character arcs at the end of The Case of the Wendigo. So sequels after that were not needed.

In terms of the visual inspiration, I always wanted to make a comic about punks and goths. I love the fashion choices of both subcultures and always wanted to draw them. I also wanted to pull from my brief experiences in Chicago, but also use set locations from Wheeling, WV – in particular, the Bridge of Suicide Hill (which I talked about before).

The plot really came about after noticing something about urban fantasy as a genre – from Supernatural to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the absurdly popular books on the shelves like Twilight, The Dresden Files, and others like them, I noticed one thing…

The characters in too many urban fantasy stories are white. There are so few black girls in them on the mainstream shelves.

THAT was a major starting point for the new draft – again, in my imagination, Charlie was much more open than Margot, and that was a huge plus, as well. I knew that if I wanted to make an urban fantasy story with a black girl lead, that lead was going to be Charlie.

The reason I’ve stuck with this story so long is because of Charlie – I love her as a character. I was inspired to make her because I knew two awesome ladies in college, who were the inspiration for her personality and skill sets. Charlie & Clow, the print book, is actually dedicated to both ladies: Natasha Burton and Tifah Lockhart. If either of you are reading this, thank you. You’re incredible!

I hope this shed some light into what inspires a story to come about – it can be very messy, and long, and lead to dead ends, but it’s all part of the journey. And I’m glad I took that journey, because it lead me to a badass main character and a story I MASSIVELY love to draw.

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

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Updates for July 13, 2017

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large chimes concept sketch

The above picture is a sketch from my 2015 sketchbook, developing a concept in The Legend of Jamie Roberts: the Chimes of Dogona at the Temple of A Thousand Souls. I’d like to redraw these chimes with some more detail, but as mentioned, this was a sketch just to get the initial idea.

The chimes are based on a real location in Casey, IL, which is a small town home to a lot of world’s largests: world’s largest wind chimes, knitting needles, golf tee, etc. I think the people are trying to set a world record for home to the most “world’s largest” objects.

…I should do sketches like this more often – broad, fast marker strokes are a thing I miss, especially considering how detailed my comics have become recently.

Speaking of which…

COMICS

The reason I’m thinking of detail is because of my most recent update of The Case of the Wendigo. Sweet baby kittens on a motorbike it took FOREVER to do. Here’s a preview clip:the case of the wendigo preview imageMeanwhile, Validation has already updated twice this week. Once on Monday, and a second time today.

KICKSTARTER

Making progress on ALL THE THINGS. Trading cards are now all finished, and now I’m working on commissions. Once they’re finished, I’ll share some of them in a blog post (if I get the ok from the commissioners, of course). The button printer is taking a while, but I don’t blame him – he’s printing 600 buttons for me.

SHOWS

I’m getting ready for Not At Con Day, happening July 22 at New Dimension Comics in Saint Clairsville, OH. Expect new 11 x 17 inch prints from me, as well as some new zines. I’ll be showing off a new table set-up, too! Which reminds me…

BLOG

Expect a blog post about artist alley table layouts soon – I’ve been taking pictures at every show and tooling around with what works and what’s getting improved. So the blog post will share various layouts, what I’ve learned, and what changes can be implemented at future shows.

I’m also trying to get a Clip Studio Paint/Manga Studio tutorial typed up.

There are other things happening right now, but I only share those other things with newsletter subscribers. If you’re not already getting the newsletter, here’s your chance to do so.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

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Updates for July 6, 2017

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validation clip of strip 403

COMICS

Validation updated today!

Plus, The Case of the Wendigo updated last Wednesday. Patrons see new pages the Tuesday before public updates, and now you can see new pages on Patreon on Thursdays. 3 straight days of urban fantasy goodness!

KICKSTARTER

The funding has arrived! I made a public post about how much came to me after dropped pledges and KickStarter fees, and what’s coming next.

Commissions for KickStarter backers are still a work in progress. Check back later.

CONVENTIONS

My next appearance will be at Not At Con Day, which is July 22, at New Dimension Comics in Saint Clairsville, OH, from 12 pm to 5 pm. There will be new minicomics, new zines, and new 11 inch by 17 inch prints.

I’ve also been invited by Parkersburg Pop Con to make an appearance at their show on September 30th this year. Awesome!

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So I Might Make a Game. Maybe. Possibly…

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validation webcomic panel
This panel is from Validation (written by Christian Beranek, drawn by me)

I like games. Video games are cool, but right now, my love is for tabletop games.

If you want to understand why I love tabletop games, especially Dungeons & Dragons, so much, I highly recommend you watch this TedTalk about why D&D is good for you, and this Cosmonaut Variety Hour video about Dungeons & Dragons.

Of course I’ve played other tabletop games, too: Evil Baby Orphanage, King of New York, Settlers of Catan, We Didn’t Playtest This At All, Quelf, and Pathfinder are all games I’ve trod the table for. But Dungeons & Dragons is my big favorite right now, especially 5th edition. 5th edition is really the best beginner’s version of Dungeons & Dragons that’s out right now (aside from the Starter Pack).

With that said, I’ve been wanting to make a new game for quite a while now.

Not just a new D&D 5th edition campaign (I’m already in the process of brewing one). But a new tabletop game.

Christian Beranek and I have been throwing around the idea of finally making Tiny Unicorn, which is a game mentioned in our comic Validation. That’s great. I don’t mean to discredit that.

No, I mean, making a new game.

The idea I’ve had for a little while is something based on the world of Charlie & Clow and The Case of the Wendigo. In my mind’s eye it would run off a D20 system, partly because I’m most comfortable with that, and partially because…

Ok look, I know there are games based on existing comics, movies, TV shows, etc that generally favor the Fate System as a root to base the game on. But I’ve looked at the Fate System and I just don’t like it. It’s too complicated and nonsensical, especially when it comes to how characters in the game take damage. While there are aspects of the D20 system that can make a game easy to break (by overpowering characters, spamming certain spells, etc), I still find it preferable to the mess that is the Fate System.

So anyway, yes, I’m thinking of brewing a tabletop game based on the world of Charlie & Clow and The Case of the Wendigo with the d20 system as its base.

I’ll be updating here on the blog if I finally get the chance to start this thing.

Thanks for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

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