Layers: Toree Boutz


Page 110 of Linda Barry’s What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly, 2008)

Layers are defined by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips in their book, Graphic Design: The New Basics as “simultaneous, overlapping components of an image or sequence” (page 141). Each layer brings depth and variation, as every single layer functions as a different level of a complete work.

We are easily able to see the concept of layering in Linda Barry’s graphic novel, What It Is. Barry oftentimes uses mixed media and cut-and-paste laying techniques to create collages. On page 110 specifically, we can see numerous layers made up of different materials. Her initial layer is a sheet of yellow legal pad paper. On top of that, Barry has pasted smaller pieces of paper and paper cut-outs. There is evidence of cut-outs of a book with text, there are several cut-outs of birds of various sizes, and there are paper squares that Barry has layered with paints.


Page 14 of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth: Volume 1, Issue 1 (Vertigo, 2009).

Layering is also seen in a different form in Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth: Volume 1, Issue 1 on page 14. Lemire using temporal layers to illustrate the passing of time. In this somber scene of the story, our eyes are first drawn to the rectangles that are layered over the background scene. In this illustrated timeline, we watch the withering of Gus’ father from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. When we shift our focus, we see that the bottom layer of this page is a transition from a dreary, withered, snow-covered winter scene into a lush, green spring scene. The use of foliage is also intentional. Vines are layered over the golden yellow borders of the smaller rectangles and the larger page. The vines start on the left side of the page as wrinkled and thin and end on the right side of the page full and blooming.

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