The final two races of the Four Kingdoms get their time in the sun this week – though it will extend well into the first chapter, as our main story protagonists are both Tamian and Lutren!

As we’ve mentioned a few times throughout the creation of the comic, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques was a big inspiration to us. The squirrels and otters of that series are a bit of a direct homage to that, and their kingdom of Sunsgrove is also intended to be a bit of an homage to Jacques’ “Mossflower” and “Loamhedge” naming pattern.

Click for full-size

This thumbnail is actually from the previously mentioned “War of the Western Deep” concept we were working on before “Beyond the Western Deep” was redesigned for the web. The first couple pages of the comic were dedicated to showing the rift between the Lutren and Tamian races, and the many rifts in the Lutren race itself. While the Tamian was a consolidated and close-knit people, the Lutren were scattered across countless tribes up and down the coastline. Unification under a single banner was not an easy task for the Lutren, so the idea of then unifying with the Tamian seemed unnecessary. There was also the small matter of the Tamian thinking the land-bound Lutren were an abomination of the lowest order that made civilized conversation between the two races rather difficult.

It was not until the Polcan arrived on Sunsgrove’s coasts with conquest on their mind that the Lutren and Tamian managed to overcome their incredible differences and found the joint kingdom of Sunsgrove.

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The old-old version of this sequence consolidated the Lutren and Polcan into a single panel (seen last week) and this panel here showing the Tamian slaying a giant flesh-eating centipede creature we call “Treewalkers”. The Tamian scouting culture is heavily influenced by these destructive beasts, with groups of warriors patrolling the forests of the Western Deep on a regular basis to prevent them from ever getting too close to the Tamian capital city of Terria.

When we redid the opening sequence, we wanted to do a better job of showing off the size of these massive creatures in relation to the smaller Tamian tasked with taking them out. We also wanted to capture the battle and intensity of the moment a bit better than we did in the old version.

Something more like this

So we went back to the drawing board for the panel and worked out something more akin to the above image, which is a crop from an older cover mock-up Rachel put together a few years back. The final result is what you can see in this week’s page!