From thumbnail to final art. Click the image to see a larger version.

It has been really quiet around here, and that’s because I’ve been pushing myself to get the book done in as timely a manner as possible. There is always the encroachment of the day job, but, for the art, I became unsatisfied with some of it and had to do some touch-ups, and I have also been fighting some technological woes. However, none of this is stuff that can’t be beaten with a little patience and ambition.

For now, the entire book has flat colors on its pages and I’m just going through and adding shadows and highlights as the final pass on the art. I’ve already shared the first few steps of the process for this panel on social media before, so I figured it would be best to complete the lesson plan, so to speak, by adding the flat colors and the final art.

Making any art is a dance with self-confidence and doubt––they step on each other’s toes as each one takes the lead for awhile. During the thumbnailing of the book, I was really excited about it, but once I pencilled it, I lost some of that surety. After laying down inks, there was no doubt that this was the best book I’ve drawn (despite needing to go back and redraw some panels or just touch them up a bit). Laying down flats is a slog on its own anyway, but there’s a consequence of flatting that makes the art look so dull and basic that I worried I, perhaps, rushed through this chapter a bit and even considered (for only a moment) going back to the drawing board and either redrawing whole scenes or adding pages to the book.

But when I sat down to do the shading and highlights––creating the final art for these pages––I was surprised to see my opinion flip again. Looking over a series of pages I finished, I said out loud, “Oh, okay, this does look like a Long John book,” as if it somehow wouldn’t fall into the aesthetic established by the previous four books.

These past few years has been a trial for everybody. Book 4 launched basically at the start of the pandemic and civil unrest capsized society for awhile. Book 5, with hope, comes out as this thing starts to wane. Things won’t be normal ever again; for most of us we our habits and preferences in life have changed in drastic ways as a result of everything over the last two years. Coming out of this, I know I want to run a different business than I was running before as priorities and opportunities have shifted, but the one constant I have through it all (and going forward) is getting these books created––thumbnailed, pencilled, inked, lettered, flatted, and finished. Even if the goal posts move for any reason, process is one thing we’ll always need and rely on to move forward.

Last November we got a tiny sneak peek at the cover for the upcoming Chapter 5.

Keep an eye here over the next few months. We still have the cover and title reveal to do as well as some announcements of upcoming shows (for real)! And, of course, as the book comes closer to reality, you can expect a build up to make that as much of an event as possible.

Keep a good thought, everybody, and I wish you all the best.