Chapter 2 had such a troubled development that when it was finished I didn’t necessarily feel the accompanying relief. Sure, there was the satisfaction of finally closing a chapter that had a year-long break in the middle of it, but it just didn’t bring any sense of victory like it should have, though that may be me putting unwarranted expectations upon the project.

In hindsight, a major part of that weightless accomplishment was due to the fact that even though the chapter came to a close, it wasn’t done. It ended on a cliffhanger, dangling impending danger that the reader would have to wait another year for.

Almost two years, as it turns out.

Chapter 2 ended in November 2016 and Chapter 3 didn’t begin posting until June of this year. That was for a few reasons. First, I didn’t want to begin posting Chapter 3 only to have something happen that affected the update schedule. I learned my lesson on that with Chapter 2. So, I wanted to get the entire book done before posting pages to the website.

Also, with the way my day job works––and with my increasing responsibilities there (going full time, the amount of students and classes I taught increased dramatically starting in 2017)––I could only really work on pages when I had time until I reached the winter or summer breaks. I pushed really hard to get Chapter 3 done by Free Comic Book Day––I did it but while teaching 140 students at the same time and the stress and anxiety hit me in ways I didn’t know I could be hit.

Then there was the strain of finishing the story that started in Chapter 2. I knew what needed to happen: a confrontation with Juan John, Long John making a choice to save him, a big fight scene, Juan John dying, Long John learning why Juan and Jonny attacked him at the lake. Those were the tent poles I had to hit in Chapter 3, and they seemed like a lot.

Not only did I have to hit them, but I had to also make the story compelling, fun, and impactful when it needed to be. To that end, Chapter 3 was very much my final exam that tested whether I could really make comics or not.

Whether I made a compelling and fun chapter is not decided by me; the readers are in full control of that. However, the feeling I had at the end of Chapter 3 echoed what I felt at the end of Chapter 1:

“At the time of its inception, I knew I wanted to do something on my own, but my crippling self-doubt made it seem like it would never happen. And now that first story of Long John is done. Because I did it.”

Even though this is the third chapter and four years later, I come out of Chapter 3 the most confident I have ever been as a comicker. Though the growth on the page may seem minor, I learned so much about the breadth of my abilities. Though I felt Chapter 1 was definitely cool when I finished it, there came a point during Chapter 3 that made me think, “I might be doing something special here.” I’m not one to use that word with abandon, but like a runner at the beginning of the race, it takes awhile to find your stride. Chapter 1 was the eager, earnest sprint off the blocks. Chapter 2 was the stumble as I tried to figure out the course and my stamina.

With Chapter 3, I found my stride. Or, perhaps to be more accurate, I found a stride in the hopes of finding an even better one.

Unlike most of Chapter 2 or when I started Chapter 3, there is no hesitancy to start Chapter 4––I’m already thumbnailing layouts of pages and new characters are being designed––because there is no fear nor doubt. I’ve never felt that way before in any of my creative endeavors.

I don’t know how long it will be before you see pages from Chapter 4, but know that I’m always thinking about, practicing for, and working on Long John especially when it is at its quietest.


Until then, I will do my best to get back to posting “The Week” or “Sketch Fridays” as they come to me. I’ll also work on some more stuff to buy––prints and such, maybe even apparel. If you have suggestions, please let me know in the comments below or e-mailing me at longjohncomic [at] gmail[dot]com (spelled out weird to avoid robot spammers).

I also update the Facebook page and my Instagram feed regularly, so check that out. There is a blog series I have been planning for years and only now think I may get around to. More information on that as I get closer to doing it.

If you enjoyed the chapter (or the series) and you want something special, be sure to buy the physical copies from the Etsy store. They have content in there that is not available online and every purchase of a book (or the discounted 3-Book Bundle!) comes with an original Long John sketch made just for you! Buying the books directly supports the comic, its website, and its printing.

Thank you so much for your support.

-D. Bethel