So, that’s a self-portrait that I did in Vesuvio Cafe right after I arrived in San Francisco… I think it fits the upcoming chapter because it’s so very different than what my style has evolved into in the years in between, and the story of the next few chapters talks a lot about my ideas about art and how those have evolved.

Chapter Three is a big one because it lays out a lot of ideas that are the underpinning for the stuff that has come out before, and what’s coming up in the future. I’ve talked a lot about how there’s a mythology behind the comics that you have seen, and this is where I really start to get into it. In the last chapter Rickets and Prester decided that they were going to go search for Bill Watterson and in this chapter they find him, and where he’s been and all the related issues are something I’ve had planned in my comics for years. Last issue they also discovered something about Capitalist Pig, which is that there are many Capitalist Pigs, and how that works in the world of my comics and what it means has a lot to do with what’s going to happen going forward.

Half of the next few issues are the journey that Rickets and Prester go on to find Bill Watterson- and then to rescue him, after they find what’s happened to him- and the other half are about the rabbit and his struggles to be an artist. It starts with me talking a lot about my general ideas about art and artists that have inspired me, and then goes back to when I first arrived in San Francisco with ambitions to be a cartoonist and made the portrait on this page, and tells the story of what happened then, and then it goes back further still to the stuff about when the rabbit was a child, and where his desire to be an artist comes from. As that story goes back, the Rickets and Prester story goes forward, and they both meet at the end of this book and the beginning of the next one, making one of the circles within circles within circles I have been talking about.

When I was talking yesterday about the 300-ish posts I’ve left on this website being the “canon” of A Waste of Time, what I meant was that they were part of the story that is the main through-line of everything. There are all the sex jokes and fun stuff like that, which I love to do, but a Waste of Time has always had this bigger picture that I’ve been planning for years, and one long storyline with an ending that I’ve known since at least 2006 at the center of it. When I’ve given excuses about why sometimes posts have happened so slow, it’s also because I wasn’t just writing that day’s comic, I was trying to figure out its place in this bigger thing. As people start to see what’s going on, hopefully they will be curious about it and it will start to gain momentum, because there’s a lot going on.

A ridiculous amount going on, actually. In the end, it will be at least seven or eight books. When I first started planning things, I would get an idea like- Oh, they should go on an epic journey and end up with this sort of thing happening- it takes a minute to think of that broad stroke, but when you sit down and start to work it out you realize, oh, well that will be about 300 pages and several years of my life. If I had been able to properly gauge just how ambitious what I was trying to do was, I probably would have quit nine years ago and decided to do something else.

So I guess I’m kind of glad I didn’t have that amount of foresight, because now that it’s happening I’m glad that it is, and the fact that I’m still engaged and excited about it after nearly a decade of it turning over in my head means that maybe there’s something there that’s worth doing, afterall.