I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t struggling with how to get this down on paper. How do you encapsulate your life’s work in a few paragraphs?
(As I started writing this, it became a big long like…explanation as to why? Which is fine and good, but it’s also SEVERAL PAGES LONG. I’m going to add it at the bottom of this, so that you can choose to skip over it.)
First, oh my gosh, thank you for reading Interpersonal Chemistry! How the hell did three years go by?
It’s still all so strange to me. By putting my word vomit onto the internet, I’ve had the great fortune of interacting with some of the most amazing and fascinating people that I’ve ever met? All because of MITCH? Some dude that I made up when I was 14 years old? I wish so much that I could go back and time and tell little Jack all of this! They’d be so mad that it was THAT specific character, crying “NOOO! WHY HIM?” lol.
There really aren’t any words adequate enough to sum up my gratitude/appreciation and how touched I am and simultaneously how WEIRD all of this feels. Nevertheless, again, thank you.
Onto future things:
- Come November, I’m going to be updating this website on a semi-regular basis with short stories and artwork (ideally once a week, but it may just be a few times a month w/ no real schedule). I’d recommend subscribing via email to be alerted, if you’re interested in any of that (in browser: right hand side of the page, on mobile: scroll to the bottom). But for right now, it’ll be sort of quiet around here because I’m still recuperating. Also I’m going to Japan for a few weeks in October lol.
- Things might get a bit wonky with the site for a hot second, after I get back from the trip. I have to do some backend stuff. Bleh. Hopefully no one even notices, but just in case, this is the heads up.
- Breadcrumb Trails (the prequel comic about Mitch and Dylan) is still going strong! You can check it out here, and I swear to GOD at some point it’ll be migrated to here as well.
- There’s another novella sized story coming out at some point that I’ll give details out to later. However, it will be paywalled due to sensitive content (I’m sorry, but this is the safest route to protect myself and my co-creator).
- Posts for THE SEQUEL will start to go up sometime between March and April 2024. Are you excited to get insight into Avi’s issues???
- THERE’S STILL A VISUAL NOVEL IN THE WORKS! It was put on the backburner for a few reasons, but my goal is to ATTEMPT to finish it before the sequel goes up.
- I’m working on a queer wrestling merch…idk, brand? It features a lot of the Monster Mash roster, but presented in a way that non-IC readers could appreciate (and IC readers will appreciate MORE). I’ll have more info on that later.
- By the end of 2024, I’d like to do a print run of Interpersonal Chemistry. I don’t have any info to give now (and I’m trying to not think about it too much at this very second), but it’s a very real goal. Possibly the most concrete/pressing item out of anything else listed?
For now, that’s it. I’ll keep y’all in the loop as more things pop up or as progress is made. Feel free to drop any questions if you have them, and I’ll answer as best that I can.
On the day that the epilogue was posted, I did something that I’ve been meaning to do for over a year now: I took a walk through the city of Leominster, which is where Monument was based off of. I specifically focused on the neighborhood of French Hill, referred to as Frenchtown in Interpersonal Chemistry. This setting is special to me because this is where my grandfather and his brother (my great uncle) grew up. My DNA is here! It’s also where my great uncle set nearly all of his books.
I’d like to share these places now, so that you have a visual references as well!
Left: entry to the French Hill neighborhood, need to draw Mitch near this sign.
Right: St. Cecilia’s church, named St. Jude’s in IC.
Both: average streets in French Hill (what the neighborhood looks like that the gang lives in!)
All: Monument Square in downtown Leominster, incl map
During this time, I also stopped by the public library. My uncle Bob was memorialized in the teen/YA section, and the librarian was nice enough to let me poke around and take pictures.
14 year old me would be BLOWN AWAY by this beautiful mural of my great uncle that’s RIGHT ABOVE THE MANGA SECTION lololol
This was such a cool addition that I’ve never seen before collected in one place: the movie posters that his books were adapted into!
Another thing that I really appreciated but failed to capture pictures of were the MANY pride and social justice collections that they had on display in here! There were not only books, but various flags and stickers. Got extremely emotional about them :’)
At last, the long winded essay.
During the summer of 2020, I decided that I was finally going to start writing an original story. Several concrete factors lead up to what would become Interpersonal Chemistry:
Wrestling -my primary form of escapism for the previous 6 years- had either A. ground to a halt or B. became uncomfortable to watch because a GLOBAL PANDEMIC WAS HAPPENING.
People needed to get paid! But people were also DYING!
A whole slew of sexual predators in the wrestling industry were outed.
WHICH SUCKS TO EVEN INCLUDE IN THIS LIST, AND I’M NOT TRYING TO TAKE ATTENTION OFF OF THAT. But it’s true. I’ll touch up on why in a moment.
I was balls deep in replaying Pokemon HeartGold as a secondary form of escapism.
This sounds insane and is totally relevant, I promise.
Anyway, I was horribly depressed in June 2020. I also actively wanted to create for the first time in years, because being cooped up in the house for months with no end in sight was doing weird stuff to my brain. And at the time, I was facing my own mortality, y’know? I’d created nothing substantial despite being a creative person for my entire life, I was in my mid-30s, this pandemic might literally kill me, etc etc.
The state of wrestling was a goddamn dumpster fire, which also sucks when the lynchpin to your emotional well being gets yanked (didn’t help how deeply triggering it all was due to my own personal experiences).
And then I thought, “well, what if I created my own wrestling league? That way I control the characters…” Considered making a webcomic, but at the time I didn’t really have the discipline to see it through. I was also very much a “death by perfection” guy (if you relate to this sentiment, I recommend that you murder it in cold blood ASAP). I knew that it’d never get off of the ground if I went that route.
But I’d written multiple slowburn fanfics over the years. I knew it was a format that I’d be better at committing to.
Except now I needed to figure out characters for this wrestling league. And I’ll be honest, the technical aspect is my least favorite thing to write about wrestling.
So, for a few weeks, I brainstormed. I’m obsessed with all things spooky (especially at that specific time, idk I leaned pretty hard into my goth self), so I had a vague idea for Monster Mash (fka Grindhouse). But the characters were eluding me. What the fuck did I even want to write about? For real? What was I trying to say? Was this gonna be a trashy pulp novel (also a fun idea, might circle back to that)?
One day as I was organizing my office, I stumbled across an ancient folder. In it were various pieces of commissioned artwork from a decade prior, some of Jodie and Calvin, but like a gazillion pieces of Mitch. “Could Mitch be a wrestler?” I wondered, really thinking about him for the first time in YEARS (not that I hadn’t thought about him every day since he’d been shoved to the side due to Life, but most of that was in passing). No matter. He and I would have to figure it out! He’s my most fleshed out guy. This story was going to die before it ended if I had to do any more heavy lifting in that department, so sure, Mitch is a wrestler now.
I didn’t really have a plan or an outline at first, I just wrote a few paragraphs here and there and posted them on Tumblr. I had no idea how long it would be, thinking that maybe it’d be a short story at most (it never is! I know myself better than that!). Doing this was committing publishing suicide, but I’m glad I did it this way. Because here’s where my mind was at that time:
- I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know what this story even was, and if I let it sit in a doc indefinitely, it would never see the light of day. It’d die with me.
- I don’t want to try to look for a publisher. Too tired, and the world was ending.
- Years back, I had a friend that released their novel on a blog. IDK that made sense to me?
- I kept thinking about another friend in high school that told me about the time that he drove a nail through the body of his bass guitar so that he wouldn’t sell it for cash like he’d done with every other bass guitar that he’d ever owned. Sabotage it so that he’d be forced to keep it forever. That stuck with me.
So that’s why IC is how it is, why I put it out the way that I did. I don’t regret going this route. I’ve always set out to do this for me, y’know? Not to be a published author, just to tell a story. And I wouldn’t have met all these amazing people were it not for the path that I chose.
What I’m trying to say here is that if you’re thinking about doing something, just do it. Put the wheels in motion. The rewards vastly outweigh the hardships, and you’ll never regret creating. You might even make friends because you were brave enough to create and share. I am rooting for you, always.
OH, as for the Pokemon HeartGold thing? That’s why Avi’s in this story at all lol.
Mitch and Jodie have always been a package deal, but Avi was a Pokemon OC that I came up with when HG/SS were released. In a Pokemon LJ rp group, he was a physical therapist for the Elite Four in Sinnoh, as well as Morty’s love interest. As I was playing HeartGold while trying to escape, I remembered all of that while swooning over Morty myself. And the idea popped into my head: Mitch and Morty look alike. I wonder how Mitch and Avi would get along?
Well, there was have it! I’m sure this isn’t the last time that I’ll get in depth about Interpersonal Chemistry, but for now, I’ll leave you with this.
Jack (and Jodie and Avi and Mitch)