A couple years ago (2008), Ty got hired to do an unusual project…there’s a Canadian tv show called Outlaw-Inlaws, the premise of which is that our intrepid host, Ellie Tesher, will negotiate the troubled relationships of in-laws and help them to see the way to peace and happiness.

In each episode, the host finds some unusual or unique hobby or activity that one protaganist (usually presented as the one being unreasonably set-upon) enjoys and sets up a situation where the other will learn to do it. To this end, Ty was hired to teach a comic fan and his soon-to-be mother-in-law to make a comic book together. The premise was that the comic would be about how he proposed to her daughter, a story she allegedly didn’t know.

The “class” was shot at the Silver Snail over the course of several hours. It quickly became apparent that what you see as “reality” in “unscripted, reality tv” is, if not unscripted, certainly prompted quite a bit by the writers, the director and the host. And for the stars of a show about warring in-laws, the two protaganists got along remarkedly well. It also became clear that they wouldn’t be producing a comic book by the end of the shoot.

The storyline was changed so that it was Ty teaching them the basics of comic book drawing and storytelling.  Then, Ty would write the story, as told to him by the fiance and produce a small mini-comic which would be printed and given away at the couple’s wedding as a symbol of the husband and his mother-in-law working together to give the wife/daughter this “present” of in-law harmony.

Ty hired one of his former students from Max the Mutt Animation School, TK Labus to pencil. The producers were a bit surprised at the cost of hiring professionals to work on the book. They had hoped for something with more pages and in colour. But payment was only for the actual work on the comic book; the hours of tv shoots were gratis.  Unfortunately for them, Ty’s done a lot of tv and didn’t consider a few moments of air-time to be enough recompense to agree to more than one shoot. Reality was that this was not something that was going to get him more work–it wasn’t publicity he needed or craved. They also had a very tigtht deadline that left little room for getting even four pages finished in time for the show, and the wedding.

My contribution was to letter it as Ty had no time, and there was no budget left. We did finish it, and we did send it off to the producers of the show–but we never heard back from anyone on staff, or the couple or the mother-in-law. We were never told when the episode was on so I suspect that the segment was cut or only featured for a very short period of time and that the final pages were never used. I’ve seen a few episodes of the show (an acquaintance was the subject of another episode), and there tend to be two such learning moments for the two protaganists, one going by quite quickly while the second becomes the focus of a dramatic ending.

So, much buildup to a simple project…

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