Frederick, MD and the make-believe town of GWS
Posted January 8, 2015 at 03:09 am

Little shout-out to my hometown of Frederick, Maryland in today's strip with Jimmie Cone and Catoctin High School. :)

I've been asked about a billion times where GWS takes place, and I've never really answered, because it requires more than a one-line response. But I've got a minute.

Technically, the unintentional prequel to GWS, Hazelnuts, took place in Frederick, and Hazel and Jamie went to Urban Frederick High School (whch is fictitious name; I was among the first graduating class for the then-brand-new Urbana High School, but I wanted Frederick to be in the name of Hazel's school). Seeing as everyone in the strip is "back home" and their parents all live nearby, we're still technically in Frederick.

But anyone who knows a thing or two about Shepherdstown - the town in West Virginia which I've lived in for the past 16 years - knows that the strip is peppered with references to my town. The Meck, which is the bar we're currently watching Hazel and Vincent converse in, is my IRL favorite bar in town (if you find yourself in the area code, be sure to visit, especially in the summer - the backyard is to die for, and they serve Woodchuck on tap). Hazel's old apartment is loosely based on the apartments above what is now the small art supply store in town. The characters have eaten and beveraged in various establishments that exist in Shepherdstown.

A few years after I started GWS, I considered moving to New Jersey (and before you gawk, yes, I love Jersey, fuck off). Jersey's expensive to live in. I knew more friends living in their parents' houses, or stuffed in an apartment with four roommates, in Jersey than in any other state. But they were a hop away from New York and all of New York's possibilities and energy. I liked the feeling. It felt like the place where GWS took place, so I dropped a few references to Jersey as well.

So, GWS takes place in the real-life town of Frederick, Maryland if Frederick consisted of all the cool shit in Shepherdstown, West Virginia and the whole thing was dropped into western New Jersey with a train stop that runs to New York.

I guess I can answer it in one line.

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