Photo: Crocker Art Museum

In a twist on The Week, to celebrate the end of the year I’m going to be making individual posts about the things that really stuck with me this year. These are the things that I kept coming back to and kept thinking about and, if possible, kept diving into the hole it created in my wallet. This ultimate post, however, looks at the comic itself and how it fared this year.

As with every year that a Long John book is released, 2018 felt like a big year for the comic. I felt like Chapter 3’s web release was strong all the way through––uninterrupted updates twice a week with full blog posts for seventeen weeks straight. That, combined with more shows––and more successful shows––I feel quite accomplished with Long John‘s presence and visibility in 2018. Below are some of the major accomplishments by my estimation.

Chapter 3 – Making Smoke

The cover to Chapter 3 – Making Smoke. (Available for sale at the store!)

I’ve talked a lot already about the importance of Chapter 3 not only to Long John’s story but to me as a creator. As the conclusion of the comic’s first arc, I really worried that it would be incongruent with the chapters that came before in terms of continuity of narrative, voice, and even art. I wrote how finishing Chapter 1 was a personal victory because I was able to show myself that I could do this comicking thing on my own, that I can get to the end of a piece of a new story.

Completing Chapter 3 was that but on an even larger scale. This has become a beast that walks and is officially headed toward a destination.

And, for me at least––and according to a nice handful of people that confided their opinions to me––Chapter 3 works. It’s a piece that fits into the larger jigsaw puzzle that is storytelling. Knowing that fills me with such a confidence and fervor for making more that I can barely contain my enthusiasm to get back to the table.

You could even buy the three-book bundle for only $20! They come signed and with a custom Long John sketch!

Chapter 3 itself was a series of firsts that accompanied a strong feeling of growth and confidence by its end. I got to collaborate artistically with my best friend of almost thirty years––Josh Tobey––on this chapter. I feel that Chapter 3 is my best drawn chapter so far; by its end, many things I actively disliked drawing––architecture (to an extent), natural environments––became, if not things I enjoyed drawing, things that didn’t bother me anymore. I got to flex some creative panel layouts with the fight scene, something I felt I hadn’t really done since the beginning of Chapter 1.

After all of this, I’m incredibly proud of these three books and feel they represent the best expression of what kind of comicker this guy named D. Bethel is.

Thank you all again for your support during these four years. It literally means the world to me.

Conventions & Shows

This year added two shows to my regular appearances at Free Comic Book Day and Crocker-Con. First was the Toy, Game, and Pop Culture Expo in Carmichael which was a fun experience and I got to see a lot of people I have met over the years.

The next new show was one I was eager to go to, but registration always seemed to pass me by: StocktonCon.

The shared table with Kyrun Silva of Taurus Comics at StocktonCon 2018.

Luckily, a spot opened up where I was able to share a table with fellow local comicker, Kyrun Silva of Taurus Comics, and while it wasn’t my most profitable show ever, it was the most fun I’ve had at a show in a long, long time.

Kyrun’s Blood Claw on the left, my version on the right.

Most of the enjoyment came from getting to hang out with and talk shop with Kyrun (more about that below), but also getting to draw with him on the collaborative joke character, Bloodclaw, and getting him to ink a Cyclops/Leonardo drawing I made. Super fun.

Drawn by Dan, inked by Kyrun Silva.

However, my two tentpole shows––Free Comic Book Day and CrockerCon––were major successes. Armed with Chapter 3 and a nice bundle option, I got Long John––a complete arc!––into the hands of more people than any show before.

Jessica Fearnow went around taking pictures of a lot of the local talent at the show. I used a picture she took of me from a previous CrockerCon as my bio picture for years.

CrockerCon, especially, was a windfall show for me. Everything just fell into place to become a sublime experience for me. I already love the show to death because of the variety of attendees, but with the confidence of having the third book and a few other shows under my belt, it was the cap on a series of shows that I hope to never forget. And I got to be on tv promoting Long John.

Where I talk about my experience going onto Good Day Sacramento to talk about Long John and CrockerCon

I was sad that the Alternative Press Expo didn’t happen this year; I did well last year, but it was clear the show wasn’t in the healthiest of times. I’ll be doing new shows in 2019 and, if 2018 was any indication, it looks to be a fairly prosperous new year.

Con Artists

Published at

In conjunction with my nerdy/geeky weekly podcast, A Podcast [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes, I released a limited series podcast called Con Artists. Recorded in the car and the drives to and from Stockton Con with Kyrun Silva, we shared our ideas and thoughts about reading, making, and selling comics.

It started as a trial run for a new portable recorder I purchased, but while editing the audio and listening back to the conversations, I was pleased with the thoughtful discourse about being in this independent comics grind and how it’s a strange knot of fandom and creativity that, in a sense, holds us back and pushes us forward.

I look forward to not only recording more Con Artists in the future, but I’ll definitely get back on the mic with Kyrun to, at the very least, record our growth as creatives as time moves forward.

Chapter 4

A look at the work so far into Chapter 4.

Chapter 4 marks a fresh start for Long John. With the mystery established in Chapter 1 out of the way, and the storylines with the Johns ostensibly done, we see what happens next for our favorite grumpy, denuded, gunslinger.

Layouts and scriptwriting are going very well. I’m ready to start drawing, but I want to get through laying out the last third of the chapter before I do.

What to say about Chapter 4?

We meet a new major character, The Rook, who was briefly mentioned in Chapter 3. Not a lot happens in the chapter, but it will be one of the more harrowing and brutal chapters in the story as we plumb the depths of Long John’s psyche, despite also seeing him at the happiest he’s been so far. We will learn more of his backstory, as well.

You’ll also meet this dude.

There’s a lot coming down the pipe and I’m eager to not only draw it but to share it. I’ll let you know as it happens, of course.

2018 was a huge, year––a success that sets up a lot of expectations and ideas for 2019. Thank you for being here for it and stick around for what comes next!

Keep a good thought,

-D. Bethel