Short Run cofounder Eroyn Franklin's latest comic, Vantage #3, comes in a triangular envelope that is illustrated to look like a yurt. Inside the envelope, Franklin explains that this issue of Vantage is a record of her time at a monthlong residence at Caldera Arts in Oregon.
Franklin hiked a lot in her time at Caldera, and during those hikes she would stop and look straight ahead, and then at the ground beneath her. Vantage captures those two views in a beautiful little triangular minicomic that the reader can unfold and read in several different ways.
As a viewer, you have a choice. You can pull back the corners of each page to unveil a tableau that Franklin witnessed — a creek in a densely wooded area, or a waterfall, or a crater lake. Or you can leave the book in a kind of free-standing Christmas tree shape, which Franklin calls "comic sculpture."
No matter how you choose to read Vantage, Franklin's detailed black-and-white illustrations will move you. The conceit of combining a panoramic view with a close-up of the ground beneath her feet — the land ahead, the land below — is especially moving. Who hasn't been surprised by the beauty of nature, only to look down to make sure they're still connected to the earth?
With no words on the actual comic, Franklin manages to portray one of the most complex joys of nature. Even the loftiest tree still has a complex system of roots to keep it connected to the dirt below. Amateur hikers might value those vistas over the ground underfoot, but they're missing the point. There's just as much complexity — and beauty — under our feet as there is in front of our faces. It's all one piece.