Comics On The Side

by Gary Winnick
Apr 23, 2015

One really nice thing about working on games for me, especially something like Thimbleweed Park where I'm intimately involved in the design is I can weave things into the story that are very personal (as long as they can make sense to the overall direction).

In my particular case, besides studying computer game and digital art, I spent a lot of my formative years working in the comic book industry. I certainly learned a lot of my artistic craft growing up in the 60's and 70's reading comics and copying sequential panel art.

Most recently, my own comic book Bad Dreams , which I wrote and drew over the last several years in my copious spare time was published as a limited series by Red 5 comics and is now coming out this June in a trade paperback edition and here's my shameless plug.

This experience has also led me to creating a number of other comic books, some of which might actually be showcased at ThimbleCon of all places (at this point I'm not saying how much or many - that will have to be a surprise). Depending on audience reaction some could even be developed further. That's part of the beauty of independent adventure game and story development as you brainstorm stories and ideas you never know exactly what might make it into your final design, but you're free to try any idea.

Ron and I are constantly drawing from our own life experience and warping that into whatever demented shape we can to achieve a compelling story, we did it for Maniac Mansion and we're doing it for Thimbleweed Park. No, we didn't actually murder anyone, or build a reactor in the bottom of a swimming pool, but the characters, relationships and situations certainly have a lot to do with us, our sense humor and how we think.

Art does really have a tendency to imitate life, particularly when a designer or an artist is creating something as personal as an adventure game story, certainly that's been my experience working with Ron.

When we created Maniac Mansion back in the 80's we were basically just getting wet behind the ears and nothing was sacred, our interests in all forms of media, friends, families and significant relationships were all fodder for the adventure game grist mill. Even my girlfriend at the time, ‘Rae', who became ‘Razor' wasn't off limits (as far as I know, she never microwaved a hamster), nor was the head of Lucasfilm Games accounting, Wendy. If I remember right, Sandy was someone at ILM Ron had a little schoolboy crush on. We won't even get into who Dr. Fred, Nurse Edna and Weird Ed were...

As far as the stylistic visual approach and situations besides drawing from a number of B grade horror movies, I also looked toward my love of classic EC comics for further inspiration, including ‘Tales from the Crypt and ‘The Vault of Horror' which believe it or not generally offered up their own macabre comedic twists.

- Gary

Geoff Paulsen - Apr 23, 2015 at 13:47
pre-ordered... looking forward to it.

Gary Winnick - Apr 24, 2015 at 13:27

Sushi - Apr 23, 2015 at 15:36
Just one comment to Gary's post so far? Either it is very recently posted or you guys prefer Ron stuff? without Gary it would be : "hello text adventure" :-p
Anyway, is this bad dreams paperback the complete series in one volume?

I also stumbled upon Defenders of Dynatron City... Interesting cover art on issue 1! Zak was clearly not far away (nor monkeys or chainsaws with or without gas)
Oh, and please do tell us who nurse Edna was based on :)

Gary Winnick - Apr 24, 2015 at 13:32
Ron tends to post more stuff than I do- since he's handling a lot more varied tasks-
Yes the Bad Dreams trade paperback collects the entire 5 issue series along with some special features-
Steve Purcell illustrated both the covers for Dynatron and Zak-
As far as Nurse Edna goes I'm currently sworn to secrecy-

Sushi - Apr 25, 2015 at 15:03
"Currently", eh?
So *that's* the secret of Monkey Island!

Vegetaman - Apr 23, 2015 at 15:40
Okay, now I want to know even more details about who the rest of the characters in Maniac Mansion were based on!

prbalbontin - Apr 23, 2015 at 16:59
"comic books, some of which might actually be showcased at ThimbleCon of all places."

I love the idea.

Mattias Cedervall - Apr 23, 2015 at 17:18
Gary, your comic book looks interesting and reminds me of the game "Little Nemo: The Dream Master" for NES.

Gary Winnick - Apr 24, 2015 at 13:36
'Little Nemo in Slumberland' was an early newspaper comic strip by the great Windsor McCay-
certainly one of the most amazing comic art and animation pioneers- In any case I studied his
work early in my career and there's definitely some influence.

Mattias Cedervall - Apr 24, 2015 at 16:22
Aha. Thank you very much for your enlightening comment, Gary! ^_^ My favorite comic is "Finn och Fiffi" (Swedish translation) and it was made by a guy from Belgium that was friends with the creator of Tintin. I also like other comics (including manga).

Mattias Cedervall - Apr 25, 2015 at 09:12
Willy Vandersteen and Hergé.

Sushi - Apr 25, 2015 at 14:59
Aha! Good old Suske en Wiske!
Well, I am from Belgium and grew up reading all these comics drawn in "ligne claire" style. I guess 8-bit pixel art can force the same feeling due to its technical limitations (which is a good thing). Perhaps that's why I immediately felt at home in the Maniac mansion as a kid.

Mattias Cedervall - Apr 25, 2015 at 15:02
That's nice! :-)

Julian - Apr 23, 2015 at 18:24
Can you Tell us which kind of Comic Books where crucial for you in you're childhood? Marvel, DC, Disney or the french belgium stuff?

Gary Winnick - Apr 24, 2015 at 13:41
I was definitely more of a Marvel fan growing up- I loved Jack Kirby's work on the
Fantastic Four (and almost every other Marvel book he was involved with)- When I
was a bit older I got more into DC- mainly because of Neal Adam's work (who I
was an assistant to for a time)- I also got interested in a number of French comics
- particularly the work of Moebius- through Metal Hurlant which became the magazine
Heavy Metal in the states

Brian Ruff - Apr 24, 2015 at 02:13
Love the old Maniac Mansion origin stories. Please feel free to share more.

Brian - Apr 24, 2015 at 02:31
P.s. I bought the book

Gary Winnick - Apr 24, 2015 at 13:41

Frank - Apr 24, 2015 at 12:36
Hi Gary and Ron!

Just found that on Soundcloud and want to ask you if you know it ???



Frank - Apr 24, 2015 at 12:37

Sorry, youtube... :D

Mattias Cedervall - Apr 25, 2015 at 09:28
Gary, are you as a graphics guy/God involved with the font C64? I contacted the people behind it and they said they will add the foreign characters to the C64 font (for Swedish translation for example) and then let you use it in Thimbleweed Park. :-) They told me they don't want money for it, but would love a copy of the game (and I think the font creators should be in the game's credits).

Ron Gilbert - Apr 25, 2015 at 10:10
I've chatted with the people who made the C64 font and like you said, they are willing to make any changes we need.

Mattias Cedervall - Apr 25, 2015 at 12:32
That's great! ^_^ Thank you very much for your reply, Ron.C64! ^_^

Tomimt - Apr 26, 2015 at 11:41
Are you planning Comixology release as well? I mostly read my comics digitally these days.

Gary Winnick - Apr 28, 2015 at 13:26
Yes, Red 5 has already released the individual issues on Comixology:

And should also be releasing the graphic novel to coincide with the printed book.

Joseph K. Garrahan - Jul 31, 2015 at 17:19
Thanks for letting me know, I also buy everything digitally now. Just got the full collection from Comixology. I appreciate the CBZ drm-free download. Can't wait to read it!