Thursday, May 15, 2008

More From The Beanworld Archives

Wakinyan vs Unktehi
Early '80s
Aprox 16'' x 30"
Colored markers and ProWhite on Bienfang 360
I found this oddly shaped piece while looking for another one I have yet to find. I had almost forgotten about this drawing. It was all folded up and tucked into a file that had nothing to do with the subject matter at all. Oh well.
This drawing illustrates, in my own style, a favorite story of the Lakota people featuring two of my favorite spirit-beings found in published traditonal Lakota stories--Wakinyan (ThunderBeing or ThunderBird) and Unktehi (Water Monster).

Wakinyan is of the air and the source of thunderstorms, hail, tornados. Even though Wakinyan is a fierce entity, Wakinyan likes the Lakota because they are so respectful of its power.

Unktehi on the other hand is of the water. Lives in the rivers. Unktehi doesn't like the Lakota at all. Would just as soon see them all drown. At every river crossing there lurks the danger that Unktehi is lurking under the water like a giant crocodile and will drown you.

Wakinyan and Unktehi fight a lot. A variation of this myth (substituting an Eagle and Feathered Serpent) is found down south in MesoAmerica and in fact is smack dab in the middle of the national flag of Mexico.

But in my mind, when I look at my drawing below with the comfortable distance of probably 25 years, what I see more than anything else is the drawing below by the incredible Bill Everett that was in the Steranko History of Comics. To me perpetual conflict between the Golden Age Human Torch and Sub-Mariner inhabits the exact same mythological space as Wakinyan and Unktehi. I'm sure I had this drawing in my mind exactly whenever it was that I drew it.


Anonymous said...

I love this stuff. Beanworld is right up there with the great modern myths, you know!

Anonymous said...

Say, has the creator of Beanworld studied the Lakota language at all?

Larry Marder said...

Just the incredible glossary of words in the back of Ruth Bebe Hill's flawed gem of a novel about the Lakota, HANTA YO, that I read in 1980.

Even thoough the book is a mess, it is a glorious mess. And in order to read it one has to learn dozens of Lakota words, terms, and phrases that are never translated into English during the narrative.

Truth be known, I'm godawful at two things--math and foreign languages. Oh, and I never could master reading music, which is of course, yet another language.

Whatever is going on in my brain is strictly visual patterns.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but all this mythology/metaphor/vision stuff is a sign system, yeah? This is also on the language continuum, or so I think someone could argue. Sounds like you just have a lot of your eggs on one part of the number line.

Anonymous said...

Odd. That's the least like your work of any I've seen. If you'd said it was someone else's, I'd have believed it.