Happy April Everyone! And welcome to Ad Astra Comix’s second annual Indigenous Comix Month. ICM grew out of conversations with Blackfoot creator and all-around swell dude Jason Eaglespeaker on how best to promote the rerelease of ‘Uneducation: A Residential Schools Graphic Novel‘. That was a worthy project in and of itself, but ICM has grown into something more.
The depiction of indigenous people in the North American cultural landscape is often fit to turn your stomach. In the United States: they name their war machines after whole nations that they did their best to systematically exterminate. In Canada: we love inukshuks, totem poles and canoes and symbols of “Canadiannness”. But these are symbols of the indigenous cultures they belong to. More honest symbols for the Canadian state that has stolen these images would be residential schools, prisons and broken treaties – all foundational elements of modern Canada.
Despite mainstream “terminal narratives” history, which largely points to indigenous oppression, disappearance, and murder as sad, but ‘inevitable’ and ‘a thing of the past’, indigenous peoples and cultures have survived – are surviving – and in their works of cultural expression, we see not only the recollection of pain but expressions of wonder, joy and curiosity about the world and our shared future. This is the point of Indigenous Comix Month: to promote the visibility of indigenous artists on their own terms. This can help us combat that idea that indigenous people are disappearing, as well as showcase the extraordinary diversity of work.
Not that they need our help, frankly. The artists and writers we’re covering this month are all successful in their own right. Our coverage is only a small part of their overall success but we think it is important to call attention to their work and amplify indigenous voices. Luckily, this talented bunch of folks has made it easy for us.
We recognize that, as white settlers, it is a little presumptuous to set up an ‘Indigenous Comix Month’. We are doing our best to counterbalance that by letting creators have input into how they want their work to be featured, and what kind of work they want featured. But we also think it is important to do precisely because we are settlers with a predominantly settler audience. It is settlers who most need to be encouraged to pay attention to indigenous artists, and we think that we have a responsibility to help. So watch this space below for ICM content – we’ll be adding to it every time we publish something new.
The title “Arctic Dreams and Nightmares” is a woeful summation of this haunting journey through the imagination of a man who seems to have been, as the title suggests, a dreamer. But within modern memory, it is an easy thing to understand how any Inuk’s dreams might turn to nightmares.
‘One Tribe Anthology’ editor James Waley sat down to answer some questions about editing this new anthology of indigenous comics. We posted questions about the aesthetic, political and practical implications of the undertaking. Read on for his thoughtful replies!
Rebranding Canada with Comics: Canada 1812: Forged in Fire and the Continuing Co-optation of Tecumseh
We were honoured to be joined by Lee IV of the Indigenous Narratives Collective for a discussion on culture, diversity, stereotypes, and supporting one another in the industry.