The first week of Long John updates hangs overhead and, naturally, I begin to worry.  I want to explain everything before the first page updates; I want to immerse every reader into Long John’s world from the get-go; I want you to know everything about everybody with all the research and changes that have happened since I started putting this thing to paper.  But that’s not how stories work.  I only dole out pieces at a time.  Some pieces you’ll never see, and that’s okay.

What I will do, however, is let you in on a little bit of the background, inspiration, and motivation that has made Long John what it is.  For the next four days, you’ll be getting chunks of what helped make Long John into the comic it is (or will be).

1.  The Eastern Sierra Nevada

EasternSierra

A nice view of the Eastern Sierra Nevada from Mono Lake.

Part of Long John is born out of two facts:  I am a Californian and I love westerns.  Ever since I learned that California had a fairly active gunslinger history, I always wanted to see a western set there.  The kernel of history that set the story of Long John into motion was the fairly notorious town of Bodie, a sprawling mining town situated among the peaks of the Sierra Nevada––a mountain range that basically divides California from Nevada.

The once booming town of Bodie, now a State Historic Park.

The once booming town of Bodie, now a State Historic Park.

Bodie was known as a bad place to be––some accounts note that one year, in the 1880s, a gunfight or murder by gunshot happened every single day.  A popular phrase used in the surrounding areas was “Goodbye God; I’m going to Bodie!”  It must be said that the phrase has also been written as “Good, by God; I’m going to Bodie!”  This type of blurriness surrounds the notorious activities of Bodie (as it does any town noted for its Wild West antics).

View from a natural hot springs outside of Bridgeport.

View from a natural hot springs outside of Bridgeport.

However, Bodie (which is now a California State Park where all the buildings are preserved in a state of “arrested decay”) was only the starting point, and when I went out there I fell in love with all the immediate surrounding areas.  The creepy but beautiful Mono Lake, the natural hot springs at Buckeye, the strange sleepy towns of Lee Vining and Bridgeport.

The tufa towers at Mono Lake, an important location early in Long John.

The tufa towers at Mono Lake, an important location early in Long John.

In my head I saw not only a geographical connection but a strange thematic and tonal thread through all the places in the Eastern Sierra, which solidified my decision to set a story here––and its rich history made it the perfect place to set Long John.

Though I don’t really ever explicitly name where the story is at the beginning, Bodie will definitely make an appearance as do the towns of Bridgeport and Lee Vining (in earlier forms; Lee Vining didn’t get its name until the 1950s).  So, at the heart of Long John is a story of the strange but pleasant tone that, to me, evokes the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

So, that’s a good sense of the area where Long John takes place.  Come back tomorrow to read about The Kurosawa Factor.