Episode
August 23, 2018

What does an indigenous superhero look like?

We speak to a new wave of comic book artists about why representation matters.
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Indigenous representation in mainstream popular culture is usually relegated to sub-plots. Mystics or shamans make a brief appearance to impart some wisdom. An indigenous community is used to represent "backwardness".  Complex histories and rich cultures are reduced and romanticised.

 

But many writers have been working hard to flip those narratives on their heads. And many of them work in comics.

 

Superhero stories and more are now being written by, and for, indigenous communities. Not toned down and not furthering stereotypes, they are instead building representation. Native Realities Press, founded by Lee Francis, focuses on Native writers, artists and game designers.

 

“Because we deal with so much erasure people get confused about what is or isn’t Native … so it’s this double edged sword where you want to explain your traditions and history without having to explain all the history and background, because it takes away from what you’re trying to create,” he told The Stream.

 

The appetite for such work has also caught the eye of the multi-million dollar comic industry. In April, Marvel Comics announced plans to introduce a female Indigenous superhero: Amka Aliyak, alias Snowguard, a 16-year-old Inuk from Pangnirtung, Nunavut.

 

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

 

Lee Francis,  @leefrancisIV

CEO & Publisher, Native Realities

 

Jeffrey Veregge, @JeffreyVeregge

Native American Comic Artist & Designer

 

Cienan Muir,  @cienan_ceejay

Indigenous Cosplayer

 

Sonya Ballantyne, @honey_child

Writer & Filmmaker

 

Read more:

Indigenous Comic Con celebrates native culture in US - Al Jazeera
Native Superheroes Are The Norm At This All-Indigenous Comics Store - Good

 

What do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

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