Free game!

Sometimes when I’m not writing video games for other people, I take some time out to write something that allows me to exercise ideas that might be on my mind, or game elements that may not be present in current projects.

Last year, I created a short piece of interactive fiction called The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.

It was based on my own experiences from my first year of freelance writing, therefore, it’s pretty ridiculous. Click the link below to play through the narrative that reacts to the choices you make along the way (sort of like those awesome Choose Your Own Adventure Books that were popular when I was in grade school).

The game uses persistent variables to track your choices, ultimately offering you a good or bad ending. It takes about 10 minutes to play.

While it was originally written in the interactive software Inkle, I’ve since converted it to the Twine Harlowe format. I hope you’ll check it out. It’s FREE!

Click here to check out The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.

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Unit 44 Graphic Novel in stores TODAY!

Head to your local comic shop to pick up a copy of the Unit 44 Graphic Novel, which hit stores TODAY from Alterna Comics.

Order Unit 44 @ Amazon.com
Order Unit 44 @ Target.com

SPOILER — this is a pretty big deal for me. This series came to life in 2014 from the germ of an idea that popped to mind after watching an episode of the TV reality show Storage Wars.

“What if Area 51 employees forgot to pay the rent on their storage unit, and the contents were sold at public auction?”

Enter my artist (and now good friend) Ed Jiménez, who came on board to bring the initial five pages of the series to life. From there, we went to Kickstarter, successfully funded the first issue and set about putting it out into the world. When none of the publishers we approached showed interest in a “funny” comic, we figured, “No big deal… we’ll publish this on our own!”

We decided we’d go BACK to Kickstarter, raise another couple thousand dollars and create issues 2-4. It just days before we launched that campaign that Alterna Comics messaged us and was like, “Hey, what are you planning to do with that silly Area 51 comic?”

Alterna offered to publish the issues digitally under their banner (which was awesome because they had a handful of comics that I genuinely loved) and from March – June 2015, we released the series on the ComiXology platform to some acclaim, some confusion, and lots of laughs.

In 2016, Alterna asked us if we’d like to consider releasing Unit 44 as a graphic novel to comic shops.

Sign us up.

Earlier in 2017 we did another Kickstarter, raised a bucket of money and today, the beautiful finished book arrived in comic shops. At least, the comic shops that ORDERED it.

If you go into your local store and you don’t see it, you can ask them to order the book by giving them this code: JUN171148

Give them the code, a thumbs up, and ideally, you’ll have the book next Wednesday. How cool is that?

A big thanks to all of you who supported the Unit 44 (in digital issues, on Kickstarter, at conventions, etc). I’m super proud of how the graphic novel came out. It’s the third collected edition I now have on my shelf (it sits beside the Chambers TPB and The Undoubtables OGN), and let me tell you… the book is BEAUTIFUL. Not only does it have an amazing layout created by Alterna’s head honcho Peter Simeti, but in addition to our 88-page story we’ve included a NEVER BEFORE SEEN 4-page backup comic and pinups from some of amazingly talented artists including Loch Ness (who’s drawing our upcoming comedy/action miniseries Bug Slugger XL), Graeham Jarvis (who’s drawing our upcoming sci-fi/comedy miniseries Awry), Jayson Kretzer (who’s maybe(?) still drawing our one-shot The Rocking Dead), and colorist Andrew Pate, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on a whole bunch of books including the upcoming historical/comedy/action series, Edison).

So, what’s better than making a comic book with a good friend like Ed Jiménez and then inviting a bunch of your other friends to contribute art, all while putting the finished comic book on the world’s stage?

Today, there’s nothing better.

Order Unit 44 @ Amazon.com
Order Unit 44 @ Target.com

Hipsters vs. Rednecks Update #3

Back at the beginning of 2015 I embarked on the silliest of ideas.

After Unit 44 showed me how much fun writing humor was, and how naturally I felt it came to me in comic book form, I decided to up the ante on myself. Sure, I had penned a silly and irreverent four-issue sci-fi/comedy miniseries, but I wondered how could I take that to the next level.

HvR_Cover_web_newI didn’t have to think very long.

In a stroke of genius (or was it madness)… I thought, what if the world ended leaving just two of the planets’ silliest human stereotypes…and what if they had to fight each other?

It was then that I knew I would be writing Hipsters vs. Rednecks.

The story came rather quickly… what would happen if an outsider stumbled into the middle of a war… who would they ally with and how would they survive in that setting? This tale would not only allow me to explore a ton of silly jokes, but be a fun experiment in one-and-done storytelling.

In October 2014 I penned the script and at the end of the year went hunting for the perfect artist to co-create the world I had started to envision. After casually dropping the idea for the comic out on social media I got several responses, but there was one artist who caught my eye…

Tyler Kelting, writer and artist of the (fantastic) indie book My Friend Death offered to take a look at the script to see if it was up his alley. Tyler’s art has this amazing dark, grimy and lived-in feeling that I thought would be ideal for the story. The dude uses color in ways I’ve never seen colors used in a comic book. Needless to say, I was holding my breath that he’d dig it. Thankfully, he did and after a bit of discussion he set to work in early 2015.

Here we are just months later, sitting on top of a complete 24-page one-shot comic book that I couldn’t be more proud of.

HvR_prev3While part of me feels like this comic book has no business existing (because it’s just that silly) the other part of me is completed inspired by the what we’ve made. As a young reader I always loved when an indie comic book would pop up in my local comic shop (The Collection Connection — hey-o!) and reel me in with it’s personality, wackiness and complete disregard for following comic book norms.

To me, Hipsters vs. Rednecks embodies that feeling. Tyler and I created the exact comic we wanted to make, making zero apologies and having a ton of fun in the process. Maybe we’ll be apologizing once it’s released… who knows.

We’ll be self-publishing the book in print and digital formats in September. Digital PDFs will first be available via Gumroad with more e-formats to follow in the near future. We’ll be dropping a pre-order link in the next few weeks!

Now, even though I’m completely into this book I can’t help but wonder if anyone will read it. With a title like Hipsters vs. Rednecks, I’m counting on curiosity alone to bring in some viewers. After all, how could there be any sort of story there? There’s only one way to find out!

While it’s all very silly, I’ve always believed that first and foremost, making comics should be fun. The fulfillment I get from collaborating with talented artists and colorists is a thrill that never gets old.

Mission accomplished.

Release date info to come soon!

Hipsters vs. Rednecks Update #2

With the new year comes new progress on my upcoming silly one-shot comic book HIPSTERS VERSUS REDNECKS, co-created with the wonderful Tyler Kelting.

This 24-page one-shot comic explores what happens when a survivor of the apocalypse finds herself in the middle of an epic battle between the hipster and redneck factions as they battle for control of New Brooklyn, the last known city.

It’s gonna be silly and it’s gonna be out there. I hope you’re ready. We may see the book as early as spring, but you know how comics are! As soon as you can get your hands on it, I’ll let you know how!

While Tyler and I work diligently behind the scenes, here’s a peek at the cover art. Tell me you don’t want to read this comic. I dare you. Even I want to read it and I wrote the thing!

HvR_Cover

Hipsters vs. Rednecks Update #1

I spend a lot of time thinking back to when I was a young man reading comic books. I think about what grabbed my attention, what kept me coming back week after week and what enthralled me about the characters that I like to this day.

For me, it all comes down to fun.

I think comic books should be fun.

This will be evidenced in early 2015 when I unleash my sci-fi/comedy comic book UNIT 44 through Alterna Comics. Aside from that, I noticed that a large majority of projects that I wrote this year had something fun about them. None of the books were gritty, or dark, or took themselves too seriously. In fact, the more I wrote, the more “out there” I got with my story ideas, wrapping them up with lots of over the top exaggeration and laugh-out-loud humor (subjective, of course). This increasing desire to write something that would just be a ton of fun for readers lead to my latest project which has gone into production: a 24-page one-shot called HIPSTERS VERSUS REDNECKS.

What I love most about this upcoming comic is that when readers ask, “Hey, Wes, what’s that book about?” I’ll be able to refer them directly back to the title, ’cause the name says it all.

In comics, I find that if you want to do humor, you need an art style to support it. Mainstream art just doesn’t go with funny words. For UNIT 44, artist Eduardo Jimenez’s style is nothing like my other projects…it’s brighter, more expressive and has a cartoony look that perfectly suits the vibe of the story. I knew that if I was going to write a comic about Hipsters and Rednecks fighting one another, I’d need to take the same approach and I linked up with the talented artist Tyler Kelting, who’s drawing style is a tad left of center.

Tyler is the writer and artist of the self-published comic MY FRIEND DEATH, which has this raw, indie comics vibe that reminds me of so many fun books I read in my youth. Tyler read the script I’d written, had some laughs, and agreed to draw the book, so off we went, aiming to have it available sooner rather than later. I’m grateful that he saw the humor in the script and is willing to spend some hours of his life to co-create this book with me.

So, with all that said, you’re probably wondering what the comic book is all about, huh?

How’s this grab you?

In a post-apocalyptic world, two factions have risen to power—the hipsters, who control the thriving city of New Brooklyn and the rednecks, who will do anything to get inside. After letting a stranger into the walled city, oblivious hipster Pete Hughes must survive a deadly redneck onslaught, and when the dust settles he’ll never look at the world the same way again.

Now imagine that narrative paired with a bunch of jokes about both hipsters and rednecks. How could you not want to read that?

We’ve just gotten started, but here’s some early preview art from Tyler. More to come!

YIP_HVR