Comics: Jessica Harja

For my project, I wanted to focus on a common project I’ve been working with for a while in my art degree. This project basically has to deal with the meanings of trees in a basic sense of what I’m working with. From right to left, top to bottom; my project features panels of Aspen trees. It starts from one small tree, a group of three, and more join in with them until just three are left and zoomed in. These trees I created with the help of a reference in Adobe Illustrator. From there I used various sizes of them to create more of the trees. Once I printed it out, I went back in with a couple of pens. Yellow to add the characteristic yellow to the canopies and black to signify the interconnected root systems.


A comic about Aspens and creating unity in communities made by using a reference for outlines, creating the layout in Adobe Illustrator, and hand coloring and lining in the final print version. Designed by: Jessica Harja, October 2018.

In doing my research of Aspen trees I found something interesting from this info graphic written by the Denver Post. Aspen trees are really just one tree depending on the grove. Their systems start with just one tree and slowly over the years, more can grow from the original’s outstretched roots. Some of the oldest organisms on Earth are these trees that can cover hundreds of acres!

The second part to my project is that I wanted to focus on this aspect. Something (like an idea or a person) brings attention to an event or moment that’s important. If this idea grows enough, it spreads. As this idea spreads, the roots of the cause become stronger. In response to various social events, there is a common occurrence that happens, and that is people banding together.

Does my project fit McCloud’s definition of comics? I’d like to think so. These panels are deliberately placed in the sequence that they are in to signal the reader that they need to focus on the one tree and then the group of trees. Just like they need to focus on an individual to focus on the group of people.  Ideally, my project is meant to be in print. Numerous people nowadays are accustomed to everything being online that print is kind of ignored. I wanted to use the paper to bring attention back to the subject at hand. For people to take time with it instead of flipping through. Ideally, I’d like my comic to be viewed with other Aspens or potentially areas of people trying to bring about social change. By using very little words, I want readers to try and put together what I’m trying to tell them. Even with words, meanings can be lost and misinterpreted.

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