Hello everyone! Apologies about the lack of a page this week–prepping for and subsequently showing off Never Stop Sneakin’ at Emerald City Comic Con has drained all of my free time, and Rachel has been working through various distractions on her side as well. Still, we’re not going to leave you empty-handed!

In lieu of a new page or story, we wanted to take this week to extend our personal thanks to you, the readers, the fans, the people that make working on this comic so much more fun than it has any right to be. We love seeing your comments and discussion with every new page, and we’ve also been gifted over the years with some fantastic guest art. I wanted to share a selection of pieces with you all from throughout our many years of working on this comic!

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This piece of a canid soldier by Sawyer Ruzzin was actually the very first piece of guest art we received, going all the way back to March, 2012, just a couple months after we started publishing the comic. Up to that point, Rachel and I weren’t very sure what the impact of the comic might be. Sawyer’s artwork was a very promising indicator for us, and we’ve always cherished it as the literal “first”.

Sawyer would actually go on to send numerous other pieces afterwards, including one of a lutren soldier and Dabheid’s throne room built in Minecraft.

The wonderful piece by Jerome of Quinlan, Dakkan, and Hardin battling a treewalker that appeared in the hardcover collection of Volume 1 was actually not a piece of guest art, but a commission I asked him to do after seeing some of his incredible Redwall artwork. We ultimately became close friends and collaborators, with Song of the Eastern Sands becoming official Western Deep canon, and Cain and Yurk becoming fan favorite characters (and two favorites of mine as well).

But back in the day, after Jerome finished the commission, I had no idea that he would want to continue drawing these characters. Imagine my surprise when I saw the above sketches showing Quin, Dak, Kenosh, and Hardin looking incredibly badass. It was the start of something great.

Adventure Time Dakkan – by SaraaLuna

SaraaLuna’s first guest art piece was actually a vulpin dancer, but it was very quickly followed up by two pieces that have stuck with me for a very long time. Back in October of 2012, Saraa sent these absolutely adorable pieces, one of which showing Dakkan in a very Adventure Time-y style, and the other of Quin in a similar but slightly more down to earth style (looking appropriately suspicious of his captain’s sash, no less)!

Saraa would go on to contribute numerous incredible pieces of guest art, including a fun Choose Your Own Adventure story called Yurk Quest written in Twine and featuring a hilarious cute little Yurk.

Quinlan Statuette by Caitlin

This is the rare piece of physical guest art, made as a thank-you gift by friend and reader Caitlin. I was always impressed at the level of detail that was achieved here, with the colored trim on Quin’s tunic, the oak leaf symbol, the arrows in the quiver, and even a real piece of string for the bow. I still have this little clay sculpture up on my bookshelf!

Temiree’s artwork has always been wonderful, evoking memories of western-animated features and television that in no small part inspired the look of Western Deep. Tem’s Redwall artwork (particularly his otters, in my opinion anyway) is exceptionally good, and we were beyond happy when he decided to take a crack at Dakkan. Tem would go on to create a few other great pieces of guest art, including this fun comic from 2015 featuring Bevan and Hardin:

In February of 2014, we received a very cool, very different kind of guest art, this one from Atelier Bagur, who has gone on to make some absolutely fantastic guest art pieces, in addition to creating his own fun little fanon-universe that you can see hints of even in this first piece he sent us! Hint: it involves humans being part of the Western Deep universe.

Well, humans may not ever make it into the comic, but seeing Atelier create so much fantastic artwork has been a treat all the same. A newer piece of his from just recently, actually, is that of the tamian god-king, Tesque. Check it out:

We don’t receive much guest art of Tesque, but he’s a fun character all the same, and we love Atelier’s take on him here!

This piece was created as a request by Mouse Guard creator David Petersen specifically for the hardcover of Volume 1. I’d been a Mouse Guard fan since college, and a series of events ultimately led me to penning a story for his Legends of the Guard series. He had been an early point of contact in the creation of Western Deep, and it was actually his advice early on that helped us to pursue a webcomic format (that and Tracy Butler’s comic Lackadaisy, but we’ll get to that).

Following my work on Legends of the Guard, David and I kept in close touch, and he was more than happy to contribute a piece for the hardcover we were planning. I absolutely adore this piece–he just nailed Quin and Dak, their attitudes and friendship. He also snuck in some fun background details from the Land’s End Tavern to boot!

Rito Sternbeck sent us this colorful and fun piece of our traveling trio at the start of chapter 2. I always like the style here — it feels very much like a modern day television show with vector-style art, and it’s always appealed somehow.

SaraaLuna’s younger sister, Anna, sent us in a hilarious four-part comic, part one of which is seen here. You can imagine where it goes — don’t worry, both of them make it out (mostly) okay :) There’s something inherently adorable about the art and the story both, and this one’s stayed with me for many years.

This piece by reader FourthMaster needs zero introduction: two tertiary characters enter the arena, and only one them will leave! *Hint, it’s the one that didn’t die in the comic X)

In early July 2015, Tracy Butler of Lackadaisy Cats fame drew a picture of Quinlan and posted it and a link to the comic up on her Tumblr. In the span of a single day, our reader count rose by an order of magnitude–several hundred percent. It was then I realized we still had a lot of growing to do as a comic… but it was also a moment to reflect on all the new fans and readers who started reading Western Deep at Tracy’s suggestion. It was in no small part thanks to incredible online comics like Lackadaisy that Rachel and I even considered creating a webcomic initially, and Tracy has been nothing if not supportive in the intervening years.

Jakub Zawadziński sent us a great many fun guest pieces, but this one ranks among my favorites–the idea that Western Deep is actually an elaborate film project and the characters are all actors has always been a funny idea, and the follow-up that Bevan getting whacked in the head by Dakkan’s staff was actually a stunt gone wrong also tickled my funny bone.

PDQ Sketch actually made me laugh out loud (for realsies) when I saw this piece. Originally the doodled canid on the right wasn’t there, and the question was ‘What exactly are Quin and Dak laughing so hard at?’ The answer, it turns out, is Doodly McCanid :)

Lastly, I wanted to share this more recent piece by Jerijune, who has been extremely prolific in the Western Deep community, having done all sorts of fun pieces for us. This one, a faux movie poster, was a very fun one to see:

That’s going to be it for now! I know that our Guest Art section hasn’t been updated in a while and is due a major facelift. This is certainly true! But for now, I hope these occasional guest art appreciation posts will help readers remember the incredible work of our community in helping to bring the world of the Western Deep to life.

Thank you again to all the featured artists here, any artists I haven’t gotten around to yet, and all our wonderful readers.

See you next week!