Indigenous Comiccon Creator
By Rene Thompson
The Indigenous Comiccon is the first of its kind to make its debut here in Albuquerque at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on November 18. Surprisingly, there are a number of Indigenous characters, references, and literature that focuses on Native narrative in the comic world. And with characters like Slipknot from D.C.s ‘Suicide Squad’ hitting the big screen, more and more the world of Indigenous story telling has melded into comic and sci-fi genres.
Many Native based authors, artists, scholars and actors will be having panels and signings; an array of vendors have already sold out spaces available, and plans for many more events to come are still being created in their program. The Con is also still looking for volunteers and sponsors at indigenouscomiccon.com.
Elbow Room interviewed “Indigenerd” and Native Author Lee Francis to talk about the con he has created; his group, the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and to ask why it’s so important for Native storytelling to thrive through contemporary media.
What made you decide to create the Indigenous Comic Con?
It’s been an idea that has been floating around since 2011 when several Native comic book creators came together and established the Indigenous Narratives Collective to create and support Native comic books. As we’ve seen more and more, Native and Indigenous folks involved in the pop culture world of games, film, Sci-fi, fantasy, etc., seemed like the perfect time to bring everyone together for a celebration of those worlds.
Why is it so important for indigenous stories and characters to be represented in the genres of sci-fi, fantasy and comics?
Because it shows that we as Indigenous people are not relics of the past, and that we cannot be contained to existing in one genre (Westerns). That we have the capacity and creativity to create worlds that contain aspects of our identity but push the boundaries of the genre. And most importantly because it shows our Indigenous young people that we can be superheroes, space pirates, or dragon riders; wherever our creativity takes us.
What is your favorite indigenous depiction in comic/sci-fi storytelling and why?
I am a fan of Super Indian by Arigon Starr. I think she has created a comic that is funny and dynamic and portrays Native folks in a way that few people get to experience. I highly encourage checking it out – she has two volumes out currently.
What is the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers about?
Wordcraft Circle is a twenty four year old organization dedicated to supporting the work and words of Native and Indigenous writers and storytellers. It was founded by my father and I took over as the director when he passed away. Wordcraft produces the first comic under the INC Comics label called, INCs Universe, which eventually became Native Realities, the host for the Comic Con.
What do you do for fun with friends and family?
I love playing games; tabletop and role playing mostly. Also, we like to go hiking in and around Albuquerque and New Mexico. Mostly, I like to hang out and chat and enjoy the company of friends and family in whatever we may be doing.
Tell me a little about your background in New Mexico and being from Laguna Pueblo?
My family is from Laguna, from way back at the village of Paguate. The old family name was Atsye from up there. I grew up on both coasts as my dad was a university professor but spent most of my summers at Laguna with my grandmother and great-grandmother. I came back to live in New Mexico in ‘99 and stayed. I worked for a number of years at Laguna and still do some contracting from time to time there.
How will the con be focusing on indigenous narrative in the sci-fi community and what stuff do you guys have planned so far?
We have the amazing Grace Dillon joining us, who literally wrote the book on Native Sci-fi (Walking the Clouds). So we are going to dedicate a bit of time to chat about it at a few of our panels.
How do you manage pursuing this endeavor while writing and also having time for family?
I try and work out each job best I can…of course, the fam comes first but I like to stay busy and so I work it all around that!
Buy tickets for the Indigenous Comiccon here: http://www.indigenouscomiccon.com/buy-tickets