Every chapter of Long John has been a momentous personal event. Obviously, there’s the continuing validation of getting something done. Chapter 5, however, represents something just a bit more than another checkmark off the list.

This is the first chapter to be created in a pandemic-strewn world, where life became inverted and every sentence ended in a question mark. Lockdowns, viruses, politics, violence, depression, the economy, internet vitriol––tendrils tearing at every pore as we step our way through the last two years. The fact that things are as “normal” as they seem now is a testament to pure will in a lot of ways; while all I did to get here was continue, I can’t help but feel a little pride to make it this far. I hope we all do, to whatever degree is comfortable.

I count myself luckier than most––and it is luck. I had a job I could do remotely. I had hobbies that kept me from dwelling on the worst of everything all the time. I had my wife with whom I could share the crests and troughs of isolation. Many people weren’t as lucky, and I feel deeply for every one of them. But if you’re still here, reading this, please know that I’m grateful that 1. you are here to do this, and 2. you are looking toward this comic to bring you something in your life, be it joy or distraction. I take no reader for granted.

170 pages of Long John (including covers), from Chapter 1 through Chapter 5, all stacked together.

Of course, I can’t overlook the other reason why this chapter is just a little different than previous releases. Last April, it was announced that Long John had been optioned by Barry Linen Pictures, a new production company created by Chris Pine and his business partners. More than that, it was revealed that Long John was in development as an animated series at the network, FX, with animation headed by Floyd County Productions, the animation studio behind productions like Archer and Marvel’s Hit-Monkey, among many others.

So there may be many eyes on this that are brand new to the comic entirely, in which case I’m happy to have them.

How did all of this affect Chapter 5? Being the first book I actually drew since the pandemic started, I will say that one thing I took advantage of was time. I wasn’t going to rush things and I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I wanted to slow down and draw something slowly or redraw something completely. Due to that, this chapter has the most amount of art patches of any previous chapter. It has some of the best technical art I’ve ever drawn but also some art where I was constantly questioning if it was good enough. While not the best habit to take forward, to have that kind of luxury at all was an interesting exercise. I think I improved as an artist and story because of that added reflection.

But that is where I’ve been the last two years. Sure, next week a story will begin told, but feel free to linger, to ponder, and wonder. In other words, take your time, you’ve earned it. I’m just glad you’re here.