We all know Batman when we see him, but he always looks a little different, depending on the artist. Whereas in the hands of Dick Sprang, Batman is a barrel-chested 1920s strong man, in the hands of Frank Miller, Batman is an ever-evolving shadow of sinew—a monster darker than the night itself.
Even still, we’d never seen Batman imagined as a Native American warrior before Jeffrey Veregge, an artist and member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (located just outside of Seattle), depicted him alongside Superman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Flash through traditional Coast Salish design. Coast Salish is an art form unique to the Pacific Northwest, known for depicting the earth, sky, and its animals in distinctive, swooshing silhouettes.
"I want people get a chance to relate to an art form that has been used primarily to tell the tales of my people and heritage," Veregge tells Co.Design. "I want to give other people an opportunity to see Native art tell the stories that many of us have grown up with, stories that transcend any single culture and can be embraced by all as their own."
Now most of you will recognize Veregge’s superheroes, but what of their intricate lines? To understand the shapes behind Coast Salish, know that its best, grounding metaphor is that of dropping a pebble in calm water. With that framework in mind, you can recognize the prominent circles in the work, rippling out in half-moon crescents and trigons (shark-tooth-like abstract spears with three tips).
It just so happens that the Coast Salish visual framework works superbly for superheroes, as the trigons fire your eyes across the forms like arrows midflight. So Batman’s cape seems to swoop him downward to an unsuspecting victim, while Flash appears to explode forth from his hips and shoulders.
The effect is dynamic enough to make you crave a whole comic drawn in Coastal Salish, but you’ll have to settle for Veregge’s prints, which are available from time to time, in limited edition, 50-print runs. He'll also be making new works for EMP Museum in Seattle.
[Hat tip: TOR]