It has been literal months since my last focused update. Part of it was that since I finished drawing the book, I’ve been spending what free time there is to do things like lettering and coloring, etc., because I want to get the book done as soon as possible. Second, as I wrapped up drawing the book, work for my day job spun up and, for some reason, it has felt much more busy than normal. Another part of it is that I wanted to make another video update, but finding time to sit down, record, and edit a video is just losing to the other work I have to do.

That being said, I’m making good progress on the book, though the last few weeks have been dedicated to nothing but teaching and grading, as sometimes happens during the semester. While I would like to do a video update soon, I figured I would share the entertainment that has been keeping my spirits light as everything got incredibly busy.


Image Source: Nintendo
  • Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch

When I think back on the drawing of Volume 5 of Long John, I will undoubtedly also think of the Metroid series. Metroid is a series of games that have always intrigued me and inspired me. I loved the hollow, empty, lonely threat that permeates the first three games, at least.

The only games in the series I spent extended time with was Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo, though I think it was just a few rentals. The only game I owned and played through was a Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance and really enjoyed it. So, even if I wasn’t an avid player over the years, I have some striking memories from my youth about the series that always kept my attention. The strongest one is seeing an ad––it may have even been a poster––for Metroid II: Return of Samus for the GameBoy in an issue of Nintendo Power and being so inspired by the design of the main character, Samus Aran. The exaggerated shoulder pads, the pointed knee pads, the desert landscape––all had a severe impact on my aesthetic preferences for years (most notably similar to the armor design in John Boorman’s Excalibur).

For some reason, last summer I got it in my head to fill in the major Metroid gap in my experience. It’s a game so influential it spawned an entire genre of video game of which I consider myself a fan––the Metroidvania (created in combination with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night). I had played through all the NES and Super NES Castlevania games recently (and was left a bit underwhelmed), so I figured it was finally time to tackle the other namesake of the genre.

The Nintendo Power poster that I found so inspiring (for a game I’ve never played).

With luck, the original Metroid, the SNES’s Super Metroid, and the Game Boy Advance’s Metroid Fusion (referred to as Metroid 1, Metroid 3, and Metroid 4, respectively) were available for individual purchase on the Nintendo Wii U game system. Also available was the Game Boy Advance remake of Metroid called Metroid: Zero Mission, which I picked up as well as it is infinitely more enjoyable and playable than the original game is at this point. The original Metroid II: Return of Samus was not available and a recent remake for the Nintendo 3DS was not available on any other platform, and I don’t have a 3DS, but that’s beside the point.

I devoured these games this summer. In small doses between drawing pages or in the evenings, throughout the summer I played through all three games a minimum of two times each, with third playthroughs started on all of them.

And then, in a dose of serendipity, it was announced in June that Metroid Dread (also called Metroid 5) was going to be released for the Nintendo Switch, the company’s current gaming system hardware. It was going to be a Metroid game in the classic sense––a 2D, side-scrolling, exploration adventure. Needless to say, I was excited.

It released on October 8 and, at night after stretches of grading or teaching, I sit down and pick up this brand new Metroid. Though I haven’t finished it––because I’m taking my time––I’m so impressed that, in the nineteen years since Metroid Fusion (again, Metroid 4), they were able to still make a Metroid game that is undeniably a Metroid game. It’s absolutely wonderful. And terrifying. And lonely. And threatening. It brings with it not only all the memories and gameplay of those previous games, but all the inspiration as well.


  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (watching on Netflix)

I don’t have a dog in the great “Star” debate––choosing between the “War” or the “Trek.” I have enjoyed both equally over the years. Of the two, however, I think I hold a fond place in my memory of Star Trek: The Next Generation because it was kind of always on in the evenings. Part of that was due to the fact that it was made for syndication (instead of being dedicated to any specific network), but it was also one of those shows––for me––that if I came across it, even if I wasn’t looking for it, I would most often stop and watch the rest of the episode.

My wife has the same nostalgic memory for the show, and for years we had threatened ourselves to sit down and watch it. It must admit that it was me who kept us from pulling the trigger, because I had heard that seasons 1 & 2 are bad television and aren’t worth the effort. This was credible intel as it came from the Star Trek fans in my life.

But Nicole and I decided to finally pull the trigger; we’ll just have to laugh or groan our way through these first two seasons so we can get to the good stuff.

As of this writing, we are about to wrap season 1––and it has been awesome.

There are, of course, setbacks that are clear because it’s a first season of a reboot featuring an unproven cast of characters, so the budget shows at points and some story choices have been questionable––others have been very questionable. But the show has been a delight on the whole. It has proven to be a thoughtful show about an interesting cast of characters in wonderfully self-contained episodes. Admittedly, a show with an episodic format is something Nicole and I were looking for, so TNG fit that bill exactly.

Was season 1 judged too harshly, especially by those who love the franchise? I think so, but I may be able to tolerate a larger amount of narrative and design missteps than other people (I am, after all, a fan of ’80s Doctor Who). All I know is that this is one of the most solid first seasons I’ve seen of a show in years and we can’t wait to walk our way through the remaining six.


I haven’t done much doodling because, when I can sit down to draw, I tend to work on Volume 5. That being said, I have taken up the tablet while watching tv occasionally and while tabling at some recent shows. One of the drawings below is actually a thumbnail from a science fiction short story I’ve been working on––more details about that once it comes together more. Now, I’ve got to see about planning some time to record a “Volume 5 Update” video.

Sketches drawn of characters from the Australian crime drama, The Gloaming.
Drawn while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, obviously. Specifically, drawn during the episode titled “Arsenal of Freedom.”
Some figure drawing practice with the digital equivalent of charcoal done one night before going to bed.
A thumbnailed page from a sci-fi short I’m working on with another artist.