You may be wondering if this means Katsuko is a mom. The answer is no—not literally, anyway. The chapter title was a long time in development. For years, the working title was “JKB” (after Jen, Katsuko and Billie, this chapter’s focus characters). At one point I realized there was an unintentional recurring theme involving mothers and their relationship with their kids, which obviously works for Jen and Billie, but I had to stretch the meaning for Katusko, who has shown a maternalistic side when it comes to the bears she made for her senior genetics project.

I can’t remember if I realized the theme before or after writing Katsuko’s “Protect Mommy” moment in page CCXVIII, but either way, that was the first time in the comic this concept was shown.

I really enjoyed playing with color on this page. I’ve wanted to add more atmosphere into the series for a while, but my understanding of color theory has never been very good. I looked at impressionist paintings of forests to get an inspiration for the color palette.

Because this chapter doesn’t have one overarching story like all the others, I wanted to give readers an indication on the first page of each segment that a brand new story was actually beginning–especially in case anyone missed the “The End” on the previous page. I didn’t like the idea of giving each segment a title, though. So instead, the first page of each segment shows the name of the focus character in some way. Incorporating the names into the scenery is an homage to the works of the seminal comic maestro Will Eisner, who was well known for drawing his titles as if they were real objects within his comics’ worlds.