In yesterday’s discussion of Marvel’s new Red Wolf comic and comics journalism, I had talked a lot about other comics by and about indigenous people but cut it from an already lengthy piece. However, in the discussion of whether Red Wolf needs to be supported just because it promotes diversity*, I suggested some other options — please list more in the comments!
• Just throwing this in there: there are comics by indigenous people. Like Chad Solomon (above) of Rabbit and Bear Paws, a series of books that present First Nations myths and legends for younger readers. I’m sure some people may think that Solomon and his company, Little Spirit Bear Productions, play a little too much on indigenous images that white people expect but hey, he does it, and he works with other First Nations creators. His comics, his decision. Solomon just jumped to mind because he’s been at it a while and we chatted for a while at TCAF in 2014.
• Trickster is an anthology edited by Matt Dembicki and published by Fulcrum Press that features “more than twenty Native American tales [each]…written by a different Native American storyteller who worked closely with a selected illustrator.”
• Of all the comics I found mentioned perhaps the most important is the anthology Moonshot from Alternative History Comics, which “brings together dozens of creators from North America to contribute comic book stories showcasing the rich heritage and identity of indigenous storytelling” among them Red Wolf cover artist J. Veregge and Claude St-Aubin (R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern, Captain Canuck),Stephen Gladue(MOONSHOT cover artist), Haiwei Hou (Two Brothers), Nicholas Burns (Arctic Comics, Curse of Chucky, Super Shamou), Jon Proudstar (Tribal Force), George Freeman (Captain Canuck, Aquaman, Batman), Elizabeth LaPensee (Survivance, The Nature of Snakes, Fala), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Fire & Fleet & Candlelight,Coincidence & Likely Stories), Richard Van Camp (Path of the Warrior, Kiss Me Deadly), Fred Pashe (SpiritWolf), David Robertson (The Evolution of Alice, Stone), Michael Sheyahshe (Native Americans in Comic Books, Dark Owl), David Cutler (The Northern Guard), Menton J. Matthews III (Monocyte, Memory Collectors, Three Feathers), Jay Odjick (Kagagi: The Raven), Ian Ross (Heart of a Distant Tribe, Bereav’d of Light, An Illustrated History of the Anishinabe), Lovern Kindzierski (X-Men, Wolverine, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Spiderman), Arigon Starr (Super Indian, Indigenous Narratives Collective) and more.
Aboriginal writer James Leask wrote on Comics Alliance
The only pan-aboriginalism worth celebrating is one of many voices, and this book contains more of them than is usually seen in one place. That feels like a revolutionary act in a medium and culture that rarely appreciates this integral distinction.
• I was a bit surprised that no one in the Red Wolf bought up Scalped in all of this, a Vertigo comic by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera that was called “The Godfather on a reservation.” Would this acclaimed book—by a white American man and a Serbian artist—even be published today without cries of cultural appropriation? Should it be?
Red Wolf is a character from the bad old days of on the nose superheroes who wear the most offensive cultural markers invented by white America as characterization. Scalped is a nuanced, complex look at people who happened to be Native American. Even if it was not created by Native Americans, it makes a more important statement than superhero reboots.
• That said, please check out some of the work I’ve linked to above. I think everyone of the creators I’ve mentioned would appreciate a tangible sale as much as a free tweet of support.
• Finally, Marvel, if you want a NA character that EVERYONE wants WHY NOT THUNDERBIRD????
• Buying crappy comic just because they promote any agenda, even a good one, is ultimately self defeating.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.