West by South

In 2012, I finished an adventure story somewhat like The Wizard of Oz, called The Obidian Interval.  It is not exactly a graphic novel or an illustrated novel or a picture book but combines elements of all three.  Recently I bound a few copies as “artist’s books.”


Here’s a two-page spread (below). While the action mostly takes place in Charleston, South Carolina (in a parallel universe), the terrain looks like it could be the desert West.  That’s due to climate change and environmental degradation.


Some off shoots of this project include paper animations with moving parts, powered by gears made of card stock.


ImageAnd here’s Dr. O, the Obidian villain, in a screen printed version


And on some small book covers.


Now it feels like time to start thinking about a sequel to The Obidian Interval, and for some reason the desert beckons. This seems odd for someone who grew up with humid southern forests and who dislikes sand and grit.

The location is Grand Houkathunk (once known as Hopper Thump) a place that exists in the vast (imaginary) space between Wendover, Utah and Wendover, Nevada.  In an alternative past era, Lower Houkathunk is home to a cavernous underground operation where food scientists raise and process grasshoppers for human consumption, having learned of this insect’s value from local Indians. Grasshoppers are important to the culture Lower H, and they are revered.


People who dine above ground in Upper Houkathunk have no idea they are eating grasshoppers.  In fact, they know grasshoppers to be extinct. This changes when prospectors searching for minerals west of the Great Salt Lake use huge steam-powered thumping machines to test for minerals.  The rhythmic thumping causes newly hatched grasshoppers to leap to the surface just as they had when Indians beat the ground, and in such numbers that Upper Houkathunk gives way and exposes the ruins of the underground operation.


This discovery and the resulting cultural clash between inhabitants of Upper and Lower H is the starting point for my next project.  The results will be satire, but with the serious intent of educating viewers about the value of insect protein in an era when the battle against hunger has acquired global dimensions.

About Lillian-Trettin

I grew up in the Appalachian "Bible Belt" of East Tennessee in the southern United States, listening to banjo music and gospel lyrics as well as the Beatles. As a kid, I was curious about religious rituals like speaking in tongues and snake handling but resistant to the fundamentalist thinking they involved. Flannery O'Connor's tales of religious fanatics, con men, bigots, and the spiritually bereft or ambivalent resonate for me. Despite having traveled widely and lived in other places, I am (as so many Southerners claim to be) permanently "South haunted." I returned to making art full time in 2011, following a career as a teacher, researcher, and consultant and after raising two sons. I’m convinced the delay enriched rather than impeded my growth as an artist.
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