Monday, March 15, 2010

Meeting Wes Molebash, Cartoonist and Living Legend

This past Saturday, I took an hour-and-a-half drive out to Schlegel's Coffee in Chillicothe, OH to see Wes Molebash at his comic exhibition. Wes is best known for his now-completed strip about married life, You'll Have That, and he's done several other comics. For the month of March, Schlegel's Coffee House is showcasing his current project, Max vs. Max, a strip about the personal ups and downs of underdog/everyman Max Stanton.

On Saturday evening, Wes made a personal appearance at Schlegel's, so I made a trip down to see him in person. It was great to see him in person and talk comics--and I suppose that this, for me, is the cool thing about webcomics, the connecting.

The internet (at least ostensibly) is all about connecting. When you're reading a webcomic, if you want to say something to the cartoonist, you don't have to get up and get a stamp and envelope and find the guy's address, as you would with a newspaper strip or comic book. You can easily shoot an email or drop a comment. Your reply back may be a simple "thanks for the email; I'm glad you liked today's comic!", and you may not get a deep and personal connection out of it, but the internet has made connecting easier.

There's no substitute for face-to-face communication, but be that as it may, the internet can facilitate saying "hey" in person too. Thanks to the internet, I got to meet some new people this weekend, including one Wes Molebash, a talented cartoonist and a down-to-earth guy.

If you get a chance like this to meet up with a cartoonist whose work you enjoy, I encourage you to take it. Cartoonists like talking with people who like their work! Sure, it's possible to be an obnoxious gushing fan or an obsessive stalker about it, but most people are pretty cool about their art appreciation, and when people are cool about it, cool stuff happens. Swing by a convention or an exhibition or the Buttersafe Expo sometime. I've got a couple of conventions that I'll be swinging by in April--but I digress. I'll drop some more details on that later.

Point is, Wes Molebash is a cool guy who makes cool comics. If you're near Chillicothe, you should swing by the gallery and check out his exhibit. At the coffee shop, you can purchase original Max vs. Max strip artwork, and Wes is also taking commissions and selling original YHT art in order to fund his upcoming wedding. Further details are available at the Max vs. Max site.


Luke Surl said...

So uh, what did he have to say when you spoke to him?

Jackson said...

Heh...good question, Luke. Just call me Dr. Oversight.

We talked some about craft, specifically brush pens and working large. Wes does his strips almost entirely freehand, so that when he's finished, it's just scan-and-go. I noted that working larger means that he gets smaller, more subtle line weights out of his brush pen. We also talked about the specific pens we use, and that basically came down to using the pen you're most comfortable with.

We also talked about character creation. Wes' lead characters (Andy, Max, even Myron from Myron and Charlie tend to be like himself. He does deliberately change certain traits about them and events in their lives to preserve fictionality, but he draws inspiration from his own life.

We talked some about Douglas TenNapel's philosophy of creativity (in drawing and writing). TenNapel once said something to the effect of, if a pig farmer wrote a book about pig farming, he would read that book, because if the farmer knew about his subject and cared enough about it to put it to paper, it would be a good book. Pig farming isn't Douglas TenNapel's thing, cartooning is. But he would still read that book.

We talked some about the role of faith and religion and convictions in his comic, too. (Of course we did. You know me.) Some interesting discussions have come up, particularly regarding the anthropomorphized Red Flag in his comics. Wes finds it interesting what people react to in MvM, what they like and what they are offended by, and he's overall pleased with the discussions it's sparked in the comments and emails.

Hopefully that'll sate your curiosity, Luke. :) Thanks for asking!