Pacific Northwest Nature in Comics Art

PNW-Comic-Art-BreakdownComic 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.

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