Though, in a sense, Long John is a grand experiment, it does a have a congealed world that needs to be consistent, especially once it got its feet on the ground. Therefore, this Hellrider Jackie side story was a chance to really experiment with comic storytelling, part of which involved getting Josh on board to draw the thing.

What was also experimental about this story is that it is from––in literary terms––an unreliable narrator. She’s unreliable in the sense that she definitely does not see the world in a traditional way. Because of that, it feels disrespectful to the veracity of her character to tell her story using the traditional, pseudo-cinematic visual language. When I knew a slaughter would be happening in her story, both Josh and I were hesitant about showing straight-up evisceration. With this page––which is Jackie attacking the group she came across in the previous page––it was important, for me, to keep in mind that she does not see what she’s doing as murder. Perhaps she doesn’t even see it as grotesque. Everything is covered in the “rot” she is so vehement in defeating, and every kill is simply another tie on the track, so to speak.

I really wanted Josh to utilize his unique artistic perspective when approaching this page. In fact, the only thing I drew on the layout was the scythe and told him to interpret the slaughter she was committing any way he wanted to. When I got the page back, my immediate reaction was probably the same as his when he finished it (see his notes below). But as I thought about it, and really thought about her character and her story, I really came to love how much land he put in those panels. Hellrider Jackie doesn’t care about people inasmuch as they are not separate from the greater whole that is her home, this land (and lake) on a rather flat landscape that also happens to be nearly 7,000 feet above sea-level. Jackie, like the land around her, is a mess of apparent contradictions and long-lens vision (metaphorically speaking).

Maybe that’s a cop-out; if so, I don’t care. It’s pushing the boundaries of how I’ve made comics for the last seven years, and it feels scary, exciting, and rewarding.

Josh’s Notes

This page was the toughest for me to draw.  I don’t know if it’s successful; I don’t feel like it’s so.

Artwork by Josh Tobey.

Artwork by Josh Tobey.