Heads up, if you haven’t read Goats Go To Hell yet. This post gives up the goat on some major plot beats.

Goats Go to Hell took a long time to make. Way longer than I’d really ever planned, but that’s how these things go sometimes. Initially it was going to be a pretty lean and mean book about the Tourist stuck in a cabin with an irredeemable and retired bounty hunter. As a standalone it was my take on the space western. Which isn’t a new concept in any definition of the word new, but I felt a space revisionist western was at least more novel. Now, as a series entry I saw it exploring the Tourist’s origin a bit more than we’d seen. Mostly through dialogue and mostly through paralleling Hitherto and the Tourist’s father. I also saw it rounding out at 48 pages max. In those drafts Android Etta was just another bounty hunter that showed up for a page or two to only get blown away by Hitherto. Funny how that works out. Some day I’ll write about that evolution. Suffice it to say I ended up taking an entire host of stories and jammed them together under one larger book.

One of those was a short called the Cool Shades of Death.

One of the earliest characters I started designing for Tourist Unknown was the mysterious woman who calls herself The Sightseer. Now obviously at this stage of the comic I can’t get into too much of her whole deal as that’s what the stories are for, but let’s say for now she’s someone who also has a habit of showing up anywhere and everywhere in the universe. So yeah, I don’t think it’s a wild reveal to say she is gunna come back.

The problem was always figuring out a story to introduce her in. There are versions all across the early stories where she was gunna pop up, or stories I kept bouncing back because it seemed too early. Of course,, I was also impatient. Sneak through the archives and you can find quite a few hidden Sightseers in the background. Especially the crowd scenes. Maybe all the crowd scenes? Enough that I’d forgotten about most of them until I’d find her tucked away in the corner of a panel while I remastered art for Volume 1. Never have quite left easter eggs so successfully for just myself. As the years went on I decided a short was as fine an introduction as any. It would aat least be a means to get the introduction out of the way so I could get to the good stuff in a full story.

So I drew The Cool Shades of Death.

Which if you have read Goats Go to Hell feels mighty familiar, right?

While I was drawing the Cool Shades of Death I was also in the process of shaping what would become the final form of Goats Go to Hell. Largely kitbashing a bunch of ideas that didn’t hold up on their own to my satisfaction. The most formed of those ideas was the story of the Tourist being in a single destination for a much longer period than she’s used to. Long enough to develop a relationship despite the tick tock threat of her inevitable projection. It just didn’t have a plot. Not in the fun vibes way, but solidly in “this is a drag” kind of territory. Luckily? Goats Go To Hell had a solid skeleton to hold that as a secondary plot. And that’s where what I intended to be a 48 page western exploded into a 132 graphic novel swing for the series.

I sat looking at the short I had drawn and looked back at Goats. Almost immediately I saw The Sightseer slotting in like a thematic puzzle piece. “What the hell, fold it into the book as well,” I figured. Sometimes stories are intricately planned and outlined from the start, and sometimes they are a bunch of loose pages on a desk that you are shoving into the same folder.