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Cartooning the Landscape

Chip Sullivan

BUY Cloth · 240 pp. · 8.5 × 11 · ISBN 9780813938523 · $60.00 · Sep 2016
BUY Paper · 240 pp. · 8.5 × 11 · ISBN 9780813939209 · $29.95 · Sep 2016

John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, Foundation for Landscape Studies (2016)

One of the singular talents in landscape design, Chip Sullivan has shared his expertise through a seemingly unusual medium that, at second glance, makes perfect sense--the comic strip. For years Sullivan entertained readers of Landscape Architecture Magazine with comic strips that ingeniously illustrated significant concepts and milestones in the creation of our landscapes. These strips gained a large following among architects and illustrators, and now those original works, as well as additional strips created just for this book, are collected in Cartooning the Landscape.

Framed by a loose narrative in which a young man’s search for wisdom is fulfilled by a comics shop owner who instructs him not only in the essentials of illustrating but in how to see, the book takes us on a whirlwind series of journeys. We visit the living sculptures of the Tree Circus on California’s Highway 17, the vast network of tunnels and fortifications--almost an underground city--of France’s Maginot Line, and take a trip through time that reveals undeniable parallels between the Emperor Hadrian’s re-creation of the Elysian Fields and, of all things, the iconic theme parks of Walt Disney. Sullivan immerses us in the artist’s concepts and tools, from the Claude mirror and the camera obscura to the role of optical illusion in art. He shows us how hot air balloons introduced aerial perspective and reveals exhibition effects that portended everything from Cinerama to Smell-O-Vision.

Sullivan’s book is also a plea, in an era increasingly dominated by digitally rendered images, for a new appreciation of the art of hand drawing. The proof of this craft’s value lies in the hundreds of Sullivan’s panels collected in this passionate, humorous, always illuminating tour of the rich landscape surrounding us.


As an architect who draws cartoons to accompany my Washington Post 'Shaping the City' column, how could I not love Chip Sullivan’s book? Today when designers create most drawings digitally, never lifting a pencil, this witty, didactic, manually crafted book is especially timely. Cartooning landscapes and much, much more, Sullivan artfully uses his pencil to craft images, tell stories, and teach lessons, recounting history and nostalgically evoking memories of what life was like before TV and smart phones.

Roger K. Lewis, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland School of Architecture

Chip Sullivan is known as a provocative, original illustrator and inspiring teacher. His drawings overflow with lessons on how to draw and represent landscapes, which is a complex endeavor. In Cartooning the Landscape, Sullivan addresses several well-known (and some lesser-known) events in landscape and garden history but does so unlike anyone else. Sullivan makes history come alive and seem hip and relevant.

Frederick Steiner, Dean and Paley Professor for the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, and author of Design for a Vulnerable Planet

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