A closer look at the making of our 23-24 seasonal Comic-style print ads


Words and Art:  Jon Whittenberg, Graphic Designer at Spark R&D


We chose to go a little different direction with our print ad campaign in the 23/24 season. While we do enjoy showcasing iconic splitboard photography mixed with product shots, we challenged ourselves to come up with a theme that spoke more to the experience of splitboarding and how it differs from resort riding.

After some discussion, a comic-style ad became the obvious (and fun) choice. We brainstormed a number of less-than-ideal resort experiences and then began deciding which ones would resonate with our audience and could fit on a single page. And, just to be clear, this is all a bit tongue-in-cheek, as all of us at Spark, while we do love splitboarding, spend plenty of time at resorts riding chairs…and enjoy it.

After deciding on a couple of stories to focus on I got to work researching retro comics and sketching out characters and ideas.

The Wrong Lines #1 was the original concept that spurred the other two comic ideas. Comic #1 pokes fun at the ultra-long lift lines often encountered on a powder day at resorts.  Can you find the Out Cold movie reference in the comic? This wasn't always the plan, but we liked the easter egg so much, we made similar references in the other two ads.

When lines are this long you should probably bail and go splitboarding.

Have you ever had one of those epic pow days with fresh snow, hot chocolate in hand,  first in line at the lift. Then, halfway up, the chair breaks down and you're left thinking about your whole life and the day that could have been? Comic #2 daydreams about the day that could have been. If only you had gone splitboarding instead!

Watching the forecast, making plans with friends, checking the morning report, and then getting an early start. You did everything right.... and you're still stuck in traffic. You'll probably get charged for parking when you do make it to the lot.  Comic #3 provides a pleasant alternative.

We know this one cuts deep for some of you....sorry.

The plan wasn't immediately to go retro, we just started looking at comics - old and new. I was drawn to the stories, layouts, and colors of many of the older examples we found on the internet. 

I just love the lift line crowd in this illustration, minimal colors, but just the right amount of detail. I tried to add some crowd chatter you might hear in a lift line. I think this really adds to the feel of the crowd, restless and ready to ride.

You know this feeling. Stuck on a chairlift with the snow piling up on your lap, head, and everything else. Ready to ride, but unable to do so.  Their faces really capture the feeling. 

Snow Nook Resort made an appearance in all three comics. In comic #3 we took it one step further and got jammed up on Nookie Pass. Only 48 short miles away!




Jonathan Whittenberg

Since 2015, Jonathan has served as the Graphic Designer at Spark R&D in Bozeman, MT, where he continues to contribute his inventive expertise and humorous attitude.

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