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Photo by Heidi MacDonald

 

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.

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• Although her bio doesn’t play up her indigenous heritage, several people pointed me to the very talented Noel Franklin. Her work can also be found in Blood Root #3

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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.”

• This excellent article by Al-Jazeera rounds up a bunch of comics by indigenous creators, including Jon Proudstar’s Tribal Force and Kagagi by Jay Odjick.

 

Book-slider-MOONSHOT-Cover• 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

http://comicsalliance.com/moonshot-indigenous-comics-collection/

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.

http://comicsalliance.com/moonshot-indigenous-comics-collection/

http://comicsalliance.com/moonshot-indigenous-comics-collection/

http://comicsalliance.com/moonshot-indigenous-comics-collection/

• 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.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Patti, these are all lovely examples, and it’s heart warming to finally see Indiginous peoples represented in media. Moonshot is a great anthology. I’d also offer up the book I illustrated by Indigenous author Dr Patti LaBoucane Benson. The Outside Circle. It’s been a Canadian bestseller in bookstores, but I feel that comic stores have overlooked it (although Variant Edition has sold it like hotcakes). It’s based on over 20 years of Patti’s research and has amazing colours by John Rauch. I am not an Indigenous Canadian, but working on the book gave me a deeper appreciation for First Nations culture and ceremony. Working with Patti has also opened my eyes to the realities of intergenerational trauma and how our justice system needs to evolve.

  2. As for whether or not the upcoming Red Wolf book promotes diversity, given that current info paints the newest incarnation is a time-displaced, alt-universe Wild West character belonging to no extant tribe, my personal feeling is that folks would be promoting diversity in comics just as much by buying Veregge’s IDW work. This sounds just another superhero book so far, albeit with some contentious trappings.

  3. Thunderbird was pretty one dimensional until Claremont gave him more page time and a backstory that included a stint in Vietnam in Classic X-men. Not really the character’s fault given that he only appeared in three issues before dying.

    Dani Moonstar was the best Indian character in comics. Might still be.

  4. Wow, Chi-meegwetch (many thanks) to Heidi for the plug, much appreciated!

    Yeah, with the guidance of our Elders and wisdom keepers we use traditional images of Native Americans are known to look like historically, as our work is set in the 1750’s. Our Elders are our Editors! Most characters in our work are Anishinaabe as this is the nation I belong to. :)

    You can read more about what are series is about here http://rabbitandbearpaws.com/about-us/
    The main message behind all our work is to use humour as a way to show the importance on Traditional knowledge.

    Yes, Asterix is one of our influences as are many others about the idea of little guy/big guy comedy team ups.

  5. Jamie, You are correct as our graphic novels are designed for the – all ages – while we do picture books called Rabbit and Bear Paws: Sacred Seven and a first readers series called Rabbit and Bear Paws: Thank you, for the younger audience. :)

  6. I am going to have to get my hands on to a copy of Dr Patti LaBoucane Benson book, The Outside Circle. My Mishomis (Grandfather) Art Solomon spent years working with the correctional system helping First Nation people in prisons. Very very cool to see people bringing awareness to such topics!!

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