I debated whether to include this now that you’ve seen everything it’s previewing, but it’s solid Erica art and fun to discuss.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, I tried to establish a tradition in every comic I worked on of preview pages like this at the end of the year, to keep readers engaged in the low-traffic post-Christmas period and to clarify my own story goals for myself. We definitely didn’t have the next six chapters pre-written at this point, but we had enough of an outline that I knew we’d hit these basic beats: there would be a pirate airship, Best and Byron would fight, Harky and HR would be big bads, and Syr’Nj would fall in love or at least start crushing (and at this point we knew it would be for Byron, though we also knew she’d have a brief interest in Best, so that preview’s more of a trick than the others).

Phil was never really into this whole idea, though. He felt it gave away too much, and resisted anything that would “lock down” the story to make certain points and bits of story pacing mandatory. This was the first hint of much bigger disagreements about pacing to come, which would soon make these previews entirely impractical.

Today, I might agree with Phil about the first two frames (some hints of Taro and the berserker curse would’ve been more intriguing without giving away the store) but I do think the implied promise of bigger villains on the horizon and the bit with Syr’Nj were probably good for reader interest.