Comic artists must take a different approach than traditional artists to portraying the Pacific Northwest outdoors, since the landscape becomes their setting rather than their subject. The landscape needs to complement, not hinder, the action. Comics are also produced on a fast schedule, so artists are forced to produce pages relatively quickly, giving them an incentive to simplify backgrounds.
The same thing that makes Cascadia so beautiful also makes it challenging to illustrate – the forests are often dense, the understory flush with shrubs and groundcover. Open meadows are uncommon; when the forest looks open, it’s generally a stand of douglas firs with sword ferns or thick moss beneath. Cutting cross-country can be difficult if you don’t find a deer trail to follow.
I looked at three comics set in the Pacific Northwest to compare their depictions of the forest – Black Hole by Charles Burns, Northwest Passage by Scott Chantler, and Fables 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha.
Looking for new writing to inspire you in 2013?
Here are a few blogs by creatives I’ve been enjoying:
- terribleminds by Chuck Wendig — epithet-laced motivational writing for writers
- Shaden Productions Blog by Brooke Shaden — musings on art and being an artist by a fine art photographer
- 99u by Behance — helping creatives achieve their goals
- The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau — living life according to your own dreams, not society’s standards
For wilderness, I’d recommend:
- Inside the Mountain’s Skin by Mary in Oregon — writing about her relationship with wilderness
- Semi-Rad by Brendan Leonard — reflections on adventuring and living a fulfilling life through the outdoors
- The Printed Land by Ian Hill — writing about landscape and experiences in the countryside
And here’s my favorite Cascadia Inspired writing from 2012:
What have you been reading lately? What would you recommend to read in 2013?
When you think of a wolverine, what comes to mind? Most people think of them as dirty, vicious predators that spend their lives totally alone except to mate; yet wolverine researchers in Montana found wolverine families sharing territory and even spending time with each other throughout the year. The Wolverine Way, by Douglas Chadwick, tells the story of a five year study of Glacier National Park’s wolverines, shedding light on the enigmatic wolverine while offering a window into wildlife research.