Where did the idea for Long John come from?

Long John is a comic a long time in the making.  Though the “gunfighter wakes up in only his long johns” is not a new idea (re: Silverado), it was one I hadn’t seen before I had a really weird dream about it in 2002.  The next morning, I woke up and drew what I remembered:

The first Long John drawing from 2002.

Since then, Long John has always been there.  He was a character with no story aside from the catalyst of his clothes getting stolen.  In 2004, in the projection booth of a movie theater where I was working, a multi-tiered outline of a Long John story poured out of me into a notebook, but was shut away and wistfully looked over for many years.  Serious development on the Long John comic began in 2012 as I updated the art style and the story for something more fitting to my current sensibilities.

I discuss the creation of Long John in this article, “Developing a Hero.”

I also discuss the inspirations behind Long John in the Long John Primer––a four-part article comprised of The Eastern Sierra Nevada Factor, The Kurosawa Factor, The Hammett Factor, and The Western Factor. Two more parts were added to the primer prior to the release of Chapter 4, The Heavy Metal Factor and The Indie Comics Factor.

What is the update schedule?

With Long John, I’m really trying to push myself in terms of creating comics.  It’s an experiment and will be full of hits and misses.  It is a finite story, and is planned to occur between 120-140 pages (allowing for occasional divergences). New chapters tend to not be posted online until they are completed in their entirety and pages are published two times a week. To keep updated with regard to new posts, I would recommend one of the following avenues:

  • Subscribe to the site’s RSS feed and anything published on the feed will update automatically to your RSS reader. I would only recommend this if you are familiar with subscribing to RSS feeds and the process it takes, but it is the most direct way to be alerted to Long John updates.
  • “Like” the official Long John page on Facebook. If you’re already on Facebook, this makes the most sense, though Facebook’s algorithms for allowing you to see new updates can be a bit fishy. However, I do update the Facebook page with every post I make on the website, as well as posting interesting and (with hope) relevant links, as well as photos. Plus, it’s a good place to get an interactive conversation going about the comic or whatever else is posted on there. You can also start discussions on the page and get interaction from me and other fans.
  • You can follow me on Twitter (@dbethel). There is no official Long John Twitter account, so if you prefer Twitter, I would be the best person to follow for Long John updates. Warning: I mostly use Twitter to retweet comments or links that I find in my feed, and my updates from Long John and my podcast, A Podcast [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes.
  • You can find behind the scenes images and process shots (as well as pictures of other things from my life) on Instagram, @dbethelcomics.

If you’re looking for a suggestion on how to read Long John, I would think it would be best consumed by coming by about once a month and read through the updates that have occurred since your previous visit.  It’s a slow-burn story and would probably be best consumed in chunks.

Your art looks the same, but different.  What comics or artists inspired you?

A lot of influences have gone into Long John.  Artistically, I was pulled into new directions after reading a lot of Enki Bilal, Francois Boucq, Darwyn Cooke’s Parker series, and (most significantly) the work of Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis, and Simon Roy in the Image Comics series, Prophet. 

Are you drawing digitally or by hand?  What tools are you using?

Long John is being drawing completely by hand and will be kept so, warts and all.  Any artistic revisions will be done by hand on the page itself.  It is toned (i.e., “colored”) and lettered in Adobe Photoshop, however, as I do not trust myself to do that stuff by hand (and probably never will).

I pencil with non-reproduction blue pencils (or mechanical pencil lead) because I hate erasing because I draw heavily and would ruin paper with all the erasing I do.  The inking is done with Sakura Micron pens. I also use brushes and sumi-e ink for spot blacks and for the times I want more exciting lines than the Microns can give me.

Do you have any merchandise (books/prints/apparel)?

Volumes 1 through 5 are currently available as books and can be purchased in the online store. I will also announce any additions via all my other internet social media avenues. If you have any ideas for merchandise that you think would be good for Long John, please let me know!