Sketch Friday #56 – Juan John

Part of me argues that, were I to start all over again, Juan John should be the main character of an on-going western comic. He’s naturally more charismatic and interesting than either Long John or Jonny Mono, with a built-in history with honest stakes attached to his livelihood that makes his story immediately more tragic, dramatic, and fun to watch unfold.

So, I killed him in Chapter 3.

Maybe that was a mistake on my part. Maybe that was an attempt for me to cover my mistakes. Overall, it permanently cast the character into a prison of “what if” proposals which––to me, at least––makes his death even more sad.

Instagram posts of the process of drawing this week’s Sketch Friday.

Not for nothing, but I’ve been thinking a lot about death and memory lately––my immediate family suffered a shocking and sudden loss recently––and coming back to Long John has made the death of Juan hit even harder. I’m really proud of his arc in Chapter 3. Even though it’s short, I feel that Juan’s death hits hard and powerfully; though we only spent (according to the Characters page) 23 pages with him, it was enough to establish a noticeable presence and to immediately feel the absence of that presence once it was taken away.

It wasn’t conscious to save his drawing in this apparent series of relaxed pencil sketches for last, but I’m glad it was. I was more active with promoting its creation on social media which, in a way, felt like a strange, ritualistic dance that brought Juan back from the void as I posted the process drawings. Sketchy at first, the details filled in as he found his way back, finding a way to be comfortable in––and with––his legacy, bringing with him everything that we lost in Chapter 3, captured in a single image.

It’s nice to see Juan again. I’m glad he’s happy.