Review: The Nature of Nature by Disa Wallander

Humanity has a strained relationship with the natural world. We marvel at its complexity and its beauty, but we are afraid of its wildness and its brutality. And for all that we understand about the natural world, there’s still more to learn. This quest for more information is (and also isn’t) the focus of Disa Wallander’s latest comic, The Nature of Nature. The Nature of Nature is 52 pages of orange and teal risograph comics printed on cream-colored paper from PEOW! Studio. The book features a nameless yet intrepid nature journalist on a hunt to find the true nature of Nature. The book is very nicely put together, with a laminated cover.

Within the comic, Wallander uses a faux-interview show where her protagonist travels from scene to scene, interviewing different types of plant. These pages often alternate with textured landscapes and still images. Asking inane questions and making silly, sometimes cruel observations, the protagonist seems to be something of a stand in for humanity. Wallander has the tendency to let her character be something of a comic relief for some fairly philosophical thoughts, a theme that resonates from an earlier work Remember This? which I reviewed here. The plants often make jokes at her expense, and the microphone she is carrying around isn’t plugged into anything, so Wallander may be making a joke, or might be saying something about the way humanity interacts with the natural world. It’s also interesting to note that this character is the main character in Wallander’s web comic, Slowly Dying. This is a dense comic, much like Wallander’s other work, and the little jokes here and there tend to liven it up.

Wallander’s art is a sketchy colored pencil that I’m a fan of. It has an organic quality that emphasizes the subject matter nicely in The Nature of Nature. The two-tone contrasting colors really make the whole book pop visually.

Wallander asks the reader to consider the natural world and the relationship we have with it. In one panel, a group of reedy plants assaults the main character, screaming, “You’re just like one of us!” while the journalist responds, “I’m not a product of inevitability like you lot!” A struggle ensues, and neither our protagonist or the plant really ends up on top.

One of the fallacies that we buy into as humans is that we are each an important thing that will always last forever. The truth is that we are each more likely a mote of dust, disappearing in a blink of an eye. Wallander confronts this brevity and the human response to nature, both our wonder and our violence in The Nature of Nature. It’s a potent combination. Recommended.

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Disa Wallander disawallander is an illustrator and comics artist. Wallander has published with kuš! komiksi kushkomikss, has had work featured in the Bimba anthology, and has also been published by Jazz Dad Books jazzdadbooks.

Peow! Studio peowstudio is a publisher of comics based in Stockholm, Sweden. Their latest offerings can be purchased from their website or from their USA distributor, Retrofit Comics retrofitcomics.

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