I don’t like to draw a lot of things. In a humorous, low-resolution video where I recorded me inking a cover from a previous comic, I realized that it’s easier to define what I like to draw rather than defining what I don’t like to draw, and it basically came down to two items: faces and clouds. Despite the fact that my video-making prowess has increased since 2012, my basic likes vs. dislikes haven’t changed that much. My tolerance, however, has improved greatly since then.

In that video, when I say “I don’t like to draw X,” a more accurate interpretation of that list is more of what I was scared to draw than anything I actively disliked drawing. However, my resistance is possibly the best source of my growth, and so I decided to have a scene set entirely within a forest, which (up until this point) was filled with things I “hated” to draw: trees.

When Chapter 2 opened, we were still pretty close to the bottom of the valley where aesthetically interesting trees grew––trees with thin, paper or skin-like bark that fell off in tiny shavings (I know this because sycamores grew right outside of my bedroom window, and to which I was wholly allergic as a child). However, as the story progressed upwards in elevation, the trees needed to become heartier and more sturdy, thus the introduction of redwood, non-deciduous trees, which were, as far as I was concerned, much more difficult to draw.

They weren’t difficult because of any particular complexity; they were difficult because––as I thought at the time––they were boring to draw. Tall Christmas trees, right?

In the next few pages, you actually see a growth of appreciation of these types of trees (pardon the pun), to the point where I really enjoyed drawing them (for the first time in my life).

In the interest of full disclosure, this is a part where I take some artistic license. If there were any real inspiration for the next scene, it would be the bamboo forest fight scene as seen in the flawed (and highly disturbing) but amazing Yoshiaki Kawajiri anime, Ninja Scroll, that––even out of context––is really rather gorgeous:

(Ignore the music and strange editing at the front, but this is the fight to which I refer.)

Normally, as high up as Long John and Jonny Mono are, the trees are sparse and it’s mostly sun-bleached rock, but a forest is more enigmatic and powerful, so I actually blend the geographical location of Lundy with the more wooded Tioga Pass (which goes into Yosemite).

Lundy Pass on the left, Tioga Pass on the right.

Lundy Pass on the left (source: CaliTrails), Tioga Pass on the right (source: SummitPost.org).

So, there’s a lot of inspiration in the scene coming up, but never is it (with hope) a blatant homage. It’s stitched together and made unique by the story I’m trying to tell. Being as lacking in confidence as I am when it comes to style or ability, I am grateful for the things from which I was able to borrow, be it from life or from anime, which is often what it comes down to in the end no matter the issue.