Guest Spotlight: Darren J. Gendron of Hello With Cheese, Scalawags International,

I know you normally prefer Darren, but where’d Dern come from?

It came from the fact that I demanded to be called Darren J. Gendron back in college. I worked for the school paper, they’d drop my J, and I’d get into fights with my editor about  it because it was my nome de plume. Not that it was a pen name, but it’s my name, and without the J, people say Darren Gendron with a hard G. If they say the J, it reminds them subconsciously that it’s a soft G.

I made such a big deal about it, they started calling me, “Darren MF-ing J Gendron”, Darren Motherfrikkin Gendron, then a mess of grunts and syllables that sounded like Durrrhhngjhrrn. Then Art Fight shortened it to HEY YO DERN. That came from Nick Borkowicz (Ghostfreehood). I’ve kind of embraced it now.

How’d Hello With Cheese get started, anyway?

Bryan Prindiville sent out an email to me and a couple of friends about making a comic – specifically, one where he didn’t have to write it anymore. I went through my entire idea file and pitched him on everything I had. A girl with a penchant for time-traveling, a head shop that was a secret place to smuggle aliens, and more… he just shot them down, one by one. I’d run out of ideas, and basically went back to him one more time. I mentioned my other folder, my catch-all folder, for just t-shirts ideas or posts on livejournal…  it was a giant chest of crazy. He saw it, and finally said “Yes, this.”

We kept goint with it, making jokes that we’d go back to, and called it Hello with Cheese.

Where’d Scalawags international come from?

O has his own realm called “The ministry of Abnormality”, I have “Dernwerks”, doesn’t make sense to go to shows and sell his stuff under my banner, and vice versa, so we came up with Scalawags international. Our first big project was Scurvy Dogs – it came from my plan to make a board game, and a need / desire to make merch and have a piece on the table. And also, when you see Kickstarter, you see it’s a great resource, you just have to figure out how to use it for the best. We put it on, it was successful, and now we’re in the business of being professional board game designers. After I set up my page on BoardGameGeek.com, I’d been awarded a badge that says “game designer” – it felt so amazingly good to see that. it’s up there with that feeling you get when you see your first comic you’ve printed.

It’s weird because at the time, it’s a third different working relationship we have – we’re 100% equal partners on Cheese. He doesn’t draw a comic if he doesn’t like the script, I don’t post if I don’t like the art, but it’s already been filtered by that point. O being a ridiculously talented freak of nature, he draws about 7 pages of comic a week. 3 pages of commission, 3 pages for Hello with Cheese, and another project in there – a page of Alignments, our third webcomic, or in the near future, a lot of pirate drawing.

You can read some of EY YO DERN’S fabulous work at www.dernwerks.com/HWC.

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