You’ve got to read this story from Outside Magazine. It’s beyond fascinating, and the writing is so vivid. Hats off to the author, Carl Hoffman
Deep in Papua New Guinea, where tribal lines remain thick and most modern amenities are nowhere to be found, one major source of income for the locals are the tourists who trek into the jungles on guided backpacking tours.
Last September, a skilled guide decided to take a trip down a trail less traveled. The company’s trip was shattered when machete-wielding men attacked the native porters. The motive appeared to be robbery, but something else was at work—ancient tribal patterns of violence that would inevitably be avenged.
By far one of the most interesting, sad, gruesome, exciting reads I’ve ever had for an illustration. The story is complex and the players can get confusing, machete armed tribesmen attack and kill another set of tribesmen. The victim’s fellow tribesmen then set out with their own machetes to avenge the murders. This is the way of life for these people. Eye for an eye. Sadness, but vengeance. Mourning, but revenge.
These are the complexities I wanted to balance with the art. Set the mood between horrific and mellow, emotional but “armed”. At quick glance the men in the image could be mistaken for the original attackers, but with a closer read and an understanding of the mud masks they wear (traditional death masks of mud and ash) as a symbol of mourning, I hope it is evident these men are in pain.
The story is long, but I really suggest you read it, it’s incredibly fascinating. A very interesting look into cultural tourism, tribalism, violence, morals, and economics… Read here
Some close ups and a few of the original sketches (and the original working title!):