– By Stephen Schleicher
You’ll Have That made its debut on the Viper Comics webpage in 2004. In that time, Wes Molebash’s semi-autobiographical webcomic has gathered a nice following. Recently I had a chance to talk with Wes about You’ll Have That, how it came about, and where it will go in the future. Yup, spoilers ahead!
Wes Molebash is the cartoonist of You’ll Have That, a comic strip published online by Viper Comics. You’ll Have That currently updates five days a week every Monday through Friday. Wes lives in Ohio with his wife, Tricia, and their two cats, Sophie and Stella. Wes holds down a blue-collar job and he loves milkshakes. He drives a Volkswagen Golf which gets really good gas mileage.
Stephen Schleicher: What was the very first web comic you read?
Wes Molebash: it is tough to remember that. I think it was Walky by David Willis, I discovered it while I was in college in Indiana, but I didn’t read it avidly. It was my first introduction to web comics and I thought it was pretty cool. The first web comic that I really started following was PVP.
Stephen: How long have you been doing You’ll Have That?
Wes: It will be two years with Viper (Comics) in December of this year.
SS: You were doing the strip before Viper?
Wes: I was doing it for newspaper submissions for about a year before Viper picked me up. The comic went through several incarnations before I fell on the young married couple storyline. I submitted it to some newspaper syndicates, then to comic book companies, before Viper called me and said they wanted to run it.
SS: This seems to be the trend for web comics. Newspaper syndicates just don’t want to deal with new strips. Why is that?
Wes: There is a lot of angst in web comics – especially among the creators of web comics – and that doesn’t work well with newspaper syndicates, which are a totally different beast. The newspaper syndicates are businesses, and I think the content in newspaper comics is tired and worn out, but they still make money. People want to read those comics, they are familiar with them, and if newspapers are still buying them, it would be stupid for the syndicates to stop selling them. I think, based on my experience, most of them were afraid to jump on to something new, especially with my submissions. I got the word there were a lot of comics being submitted that were about young married couples. If you look in the newspaper, most of them are family oriented strips. It is a tough thing to say why newspapers don’t jump on stuff. They are also very niche heavy. A lot of newspapers are picking up strips that speak to a specific demographic.
SS: When did you get serious about drawing and doing this kind of work?
Wes: I’ve always loved drawing. When I was in middle school/junior high, I wanted to be an animator for Disney. I was really gung-ho about it. In fact, I even did a lot of reports in junior high about animation.
At the time, I was also drawing comics for fun, because I had received a videotape when I was in fourth or fifth grade by Bruce Blitz called “How to Draw Comic Strips”. I was having a blast drawing my own comics and characters, and putting them into these little worlds.
Then one day my dad said to me, “You know if you did a comic strip it would be all you. Whereas if you went to work for Disney, everything you did would have Disney’s name on it, and your name would be really small on the credits as they rolled past at the end of the movie.” I thought he had a good point.
So in high school I started thinking about being a cartoonist, but I wasn’t hard core about it until 2003 when I lost my job, and then it was like, “Okay, what do I do now?” I didn’t have a college education – I dropped out, and didn’t have much of a back up plan. My mom said I should start thinking about my comics again. My mom and I sat down and figured out a schedule and my wife, who was my fiancée at the time, was real supportive, and was the one who kept me on the schedule. I started turning out submissions like clockwork.
SS: So you don’t have formal art training then?
Wes: Not really. Just what I took in high school, and a drawing class I took in college, but nothing extensive – just the basic stuff.
SS: You’ll Have That is about a newlywed couple; Andy is also a college drop out who works in a factory, and his wife Katie, is a very headstrong wife. Do their adventures mirror what goes on in your real life?
Wes: Oh yeah, very closely. When I first started drawing the strip, the characters were named Wes and Tricia. After I started sending the submissions out, I started to rethink that because there is a lot of fictional stuff that goes on in the strip, and a lot of things that I exaggerate, and I didn’t want people to think this was an autobiographical strip. It is based on stuff that my wife and I talk about, but then I take it way out to left field. So that is why I changed the names to Andy and Katie to try and impersonalize it.
SS: Does that ever cause any problems? Do you ever do something in the strip that your wife says, “I can’t believe you did that?”
Wes: No. My wife’s worry is that people will think Katie, who is very hard on Andy, and very sarcastic and sometimes mean; she worries that people will associate Katie’s personality with her personality. I tell her all the time it is just a fictional character and not to worry about it. And I think people don’t associate the two at all. It is hard because my wife reads the comic strip and she knows what stuff is based on our life and what is not. A lot of conversations that happen in the comic strip are almost verbatim with what happens with my wife and me. So from her stand point she makes that connection, but the people who read it don’t because they don’t know what the heck my wife and I talk about at home.
SS: Well most of your readers don’t even know who you are in real life, unless it is the people in your home town or who you work with…
Wes: Right. Just a couple that I have met at a couple of signings.
SS: If Andy and Katie are based on you and your wife, are the supporting characters also based on real people?
Wes: Sort of. Steve is Andy’s best friend and he is an amalgam of all my friends. Some of the things he does I kind of pull from all my buddies. When I first started drawing the strip and submitting it, I tried having a character for each of my friends, but I realized it was too much – too many characters – and you can get yourself written into a corner if you have a bunch of characters. Especially if you don’t know what you are wanting to do with each character. So I trimmed it way down, and now Steve is kind of like the Every Friend. If any of my friends do something funny, I can have Steve do it. And his girlfriend is loosely based on many of my friends too.