Even after we’d decided to do the “you’re trespassing on our newly declared borders” scene, the scheme still needed some revising. I’d intended to introduce a few characters here like Rabbit and Tamara, and we would’ve seen Bert doing his best to stand with his fellows. Might’ve helped you bond with those guys to introduce them earlier, but jam-packing them all into one short scene like this could’ve been a lot. In any case, I was struggling, and Phil argued it was more effective to use two of his early creations as foils and a familiar face as the focal point.

God, I love how well John played with the sunlight on this page. Lending gravitas to S– er, to our mysteeerious stranger here is not always easy. But in panel 3 I can almost buy him as a credible antagonist. That’s partly the dialogue (Phil’s revisions over my second draft, once he swayed me to include the scene), but most of it’s the art. You can’t do a comical subversion (as in the last tier of panels) unless you set up something to subvert!

So here’s an instance where Phil’s socioeconomic way of seeing fantasy paid off. (Well, we both tried to stress that, but Phil did so more persistently than I did.) In an interconnected world, matters of human rights, economics, and politics can closely intertwine. So it doesn’t really matter if Mystery Man here (don’t read the tags) is a goofball or not. If he’s cutting off trade routes, that still has consequences. And in wartime, those consequences may be more severe than a mere nuisance.