Tuesday, July 22, 2008

'Dare to Hope'

Storyteller and Trickster participant Joseph Bruchac recently posted a live accoustic performance of "Dare to Hope." Given all that's happening in the world, it's always a good idea to take a step back, reflect, re-energize and keep trying to make the world a better place. Thanks for the inspiration, Joseph!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

'Trickster' cover

Behold, the cover to the Trickster anthology! Illustrator/cartoonist Peter Kuper (Spy v. Spy, World War III Illustrated, Stop Forgetting to Remember) generously provided the illustration and comic book writer/artist Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) rendered the design and logo.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Article in 'Indian Country Today'

Writer Robert Schmidt's Q&A on Trickster was just published in Indian Country Today, the nation's leading Native American news source. Thanks, Robert (and ICT)!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

'Box of Daylight'

"Box of Daylight" is written by Alaskan storyteller Gene Tagaban. The original artist for the story fell through, but, as luck would have it, I received an e-mail from Turkish illustrator Gokhan Okur. Gokhan and I "met" during an online monster-drawing competition. We talked about working together on a project but he first had to serve his time in the military. When the initial artist dropped out, an e-mail popped in my in-box from Gokhan, saying his stint was over. What great timing--and what a great artist to land! Below are the roughs for the first two pages of the story.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kudos to Michael Thompson!

Last week, Trickster contributor Michael Thompson received the top award for magazine featurewriting from the Society of National Association Publications for an article he wrote for the Tribal College Journal ("Honoring the "Word" was the title of the piece.) His wife, Tina Deschenie, editor of the magazine, received the bronze award for magazine editorial writing for her piece "Why We Are Sticking to Our Stories."


Friday, June 13, 2008

Native Tongue

The Lawrence Journal-World did a pretty good article about Trickster contributor Jimm Goodtracks' efforts to preserve Ioway, a nearly lost American Indian language. Great photos, too.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'Azban and the Crayfish'

I've been lucky enough to illustrate a wonderful story by Abenaki storytellers James and Joseph Bruchac called "Azban and the Crayfish." I grew up in the Northeast and have a fondness for raccoons and crayfish, so it suit me just fine!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

'The Yehasuri"

"The Yehasuri: The Little, Wild Indians" is a great example of collaborating to develop a story for comics to its fullest potential. It is written by Beckee Garris, a Catawba who retired in 1999 and is pursuing a degree in Native American Studies at the University of South Carolina. D.C. cartoonist Andrew Cohen took the naughty-but-playful little characters and had some fun incorporating them into the layout--having them sneak from behind panels, throw things from one panel to another, etc. Below is one page from their story illustrating that point.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Coyote and the Pebbles"

Here's anther page from storyteller Dayton Edmond's and artist Micah Farritor's "Coyote and the Pebbles." Nuff said!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

'Rabbit and the Tug of War'

Michael Thompson (Mvskoke Creek) was born in Holdenville, Okla., and raised on a south Georgia cattle farm along the Flint River. He has been a teacher, writer and occasional community activist in Georgia, Kansas, California and New Mexico. He and his wife, Tina Deschenie (Dine'/Hopi), have made numerous presentations on contemporary Native literature at state and national conferences. The story he provided, "Rabbit and the Tug of War," was adapted from the W. O. Tuggle collection of stories compiled by ethnographer John Swanton in the early 1900s.

Jacob Warrenfeltz is a D.C.-are comic book artist who is rendering the story. Jake provided a rough of Page 3 as well as the final pencils for the page so you can see his process for drawing the story. Next, Jake will ink it, color it and then letter it electronically.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

When Your Hands Are Tied

This is a DVD that I came across in my research for the Trickster project. "When Your Hands Are Tied" has nothing to do with tricksters. It's an incredibly compelling, award-winning documentary that focuses on how young Native Americans are expressing themselves in today's world while keeping strong traditional lives. It made me feel sympathy and inspiration (and prompted me to do some self-examining). It's a great educational tool.

For more information, visit whenyourhandsaretied.org. Producer/director Mia Boccella Hartle provides complementary copies for schools and community organizations.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Free Comic Book Day!

Beyond Comics will host several cartoonists involved with Trickster who will sign their own books during Free Comic Book Day this Saturday, May 3:

At the Frederick (Md.) shop:
Evan Keeling (Crumbsnatchers)
Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm)

At the Gaithersburg (Md.) shop:
Matt Dembicki (Mr. Big, Spadefoot)
Andrew Cohen (Spadefoot, Howzit Funnies and Lawmonger)

I'll have sample art from Trickster!

Visit the shops, say hello, get some free comics (and buy some, too)!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

'The Dangerous Beaver'

Cowlitz storyteller and editor Roy Wilson of Washington State compiled a book of Cowlitz stories (Legends of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe), most of which have been passed down among generations. What's unique is that he used original source material for many of the stories, either written or recorded. Roy, who served 32 years on his tribe's council, permitted us to use "The Dangerous Beaver," as told by family friend Mary Eyley in 1928. Small-press comics guru Jim "8ball" Coon of Upstate New York illustrated the story. Jim gave it a historical feel with the parchment-like texture he used on the pages, as if you were reading the original writing/rendering of the story.

Monday, April 21, 2008

'Trickster' Q-and-A

Robert Schmidt, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who writes on business, gaming and multicultural subjects, did a brief Q&A with me and Christian Beranek, publisher of Little Foot Comics, about the scope of Trickster, how the idea came about and some of the bumps along the road. He has authored one book, The National Jobline Directory, and publishes Peace Party, the multicultural comic book featuring Native Americans. Rob, who describes himself as a "non-Native with no Cherokee princesses in his background," has studied Native issues extensively since 1990. He is presently developing various comic-book projects and his website, BlueCornComics.com.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

'How the Alligator Got His Brown Scaly Skin'

Sometimes you wonder how certain pairings of writers and artists will work. Sometimes, they are simply a perfect match. Here's a wonderful story by Oklahoma Muscogee storyteller Joyce Bear called "How the Alligator Got His Brown Scaly Skin" illustrated by Megan Baehr. Savor this page and salivate that there's more to come!

Addendum: I'm always curious about the tools and materials artists use. Here's what Megan used to illustrate the story (which I swipped from her Web site -- "I used brown ink (Higgins) and watercolors (Winsor & Newton) on natural white, esparto pulp watercolor paper (Schoellershammer). I also used a bit of sepia Micron pen for the panel borders and word balloons which miraculously matched the Higgins ink PERFECTLY." She also created the font, using her own lettering.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eisner nod

This isn't directly related to Trickster, but the Postcards anthology, for which I wrote the short horror story "Send Louis His Underwear" (and illustrated by Trickster contributor and Canada's favorite comic-book illustrator Jason Copland) is up for an Eisner in the anthology catagory. Micah Farritor is another artist who has work in Postcards and is contributing to Trickster. Congrats, guys! Wouldn't it be swell to win it??

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

'Trickster' cover

The ultra-talented Peter Kuper ("Spy v. Spy" for Mad magazine, World War III Illustrated, Stop Forgetting to Remember) has done the cover for the Trickster book. It's remarkable. Now, I don't wanna fully show the cover yet, but here's a glimpse to whet your appetite!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Raven the Trickster"

Artist Jason Copland is plugging away at illustrating Alaskan storyteller John Active's "Raven the Trickster." I especially love the page below. The second panel is particularly catching because of the way it shows movement, the swinging back of forth of the whale's head, as it tries to...well, you'll see!

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Giddy Up, Wolfie"

Here's a page artist Mike Short illustrated for storyteller Greg Rodger's tale "Giddy Up, Wolfie."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ishjinki in Flight


Dimi Macheras, who is illustrating Jimm Goodtracks's telling of "Ishjinki and Buzzard," provided this wonderful bit of animation of his production on the pages. Click on it to get the full effect. (How cool is that!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

'The Bear Who Stole the Chinook"

Here's a page rendered by D.C. artist Evan Keeling. His assignment is a little tougher, as he's illustrating the "Bear Who Stole the Chinook," using the lyrics of Montana songwriter and performer Jack Gladstone. (Evan has a new children's comic coming out in a few weeks from Little Foot Comics called CrumbSnatchers.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Espun and Grandfather"

New Mexico artists Jeff Benham and John Bartlit are teaming to illustrate "Espun and Grandfather," as told by John Bear Mitchell, associate director of the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine. Below are a few sketches of the grandfather character, which is a massive rock on top of a mountain.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Moshup's Bridge"

Storyteller Jonathan Perry, who works at the the Peabody Essex Museum, retells a Wampanoag trickster tale called "Moshup's Bridge." It's a great story explaining some of the geographic features around Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. Chris Piers, a friend of mine from the D.C. Conspiracy who does some editing for Image Comics, will be doing the art. He's researching various aspects of the story right now--proper clothing for the area, how certain rock and land formations look--but he did this quick sketch of Moshup when he learned he was pairing with Jonathan. I really like this drawing because with just a few quick lines, Chris conveys the power of Moshup in the context of the setting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Ishjinki and Buzzard" Updated

Dimi Macheras, who is illustrating Jimm Goodtracks's telling of "Ishjinki and Buzzard," is fleshing out his drawing for the story. I thought you might like to see how he's doing it. Below are the colors for the page previously posted.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"Ishjinki and Buzzard"

Jimm Goodtracks, of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, retells the story of "Ishjinki and Buzzard" for the Trickster project. Jimm works on the Baxoje Jiwere Language Project, which is really interesting, so be sure to check out its site. (It also has an extensive bio of Jimm, which itself is very interesting.)

Artist Dimi Macheras, who recently transplanted from Alaska to Seattle, is rendering the story. Dimi illustrated the wonderful Strong Man comic, which offers a modern-day telling of the Tlingit tale. It was funded by the Association of Alaska School Boards. You can see the cover and order copies here. The Anchorage Daily News also did a nice article on that project.

Below is a basic but captivating layout Dimi did for one of the pages of Jimm's story.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Draft vs. Final Page

Just wanted to show you how pages like this come together. A few posts ago, I put up Pat Lewis's pencils for the story he's illustrating for storyteller Tim Tingle. Below is a final version of that page--inked, colored and lettered.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Congregation of Characters

Micah Farritor has finished the pages for Dayton Edmond's telling of "Coyote and the Pebbles." I couldn't resist posting at least one of these beautiful pages. Here's one that includes many of the characters. Enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jack Gladstone

Last month I caught an acoustic performance at the National Museum of the American Indian by Jack Glackstone, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. His music is in the folk genre, blending acoustic and steel guitars, some flute and some wonderful lyrics. Of course, my two favorite songs were Trickster stories--"When Napi Roasted Gophers" and "The Bear Who Stole the Chinook." (Both of these songs are found on the album below.) If you have a chance, check out Jack's Web site. I think you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Horned Toad Lady and the Coyote"

Below is a character sketch by artist Roy Boney, Jr., for Texas storyteller Eldrena Douma's telling of “Horned Toad Lady and Coyote.” You'll also find Roy's first-page rendition of that story.

Roy, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Okla., recently had his illustrations "Cherokee Punk Rock" and "Our Father" published in Spirit magazine, a First Nations of Canada magazine that also includes American Indian tribes. (Also, check out Roy's Web site to see some of the wonderful animation he has done, including a few with Native American characters.)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lakota Winter Counts

The Smithsonian has a wonderful online presentation on the Lakota tribe called Lakota Winter Counts. Check it out. It's impressive and educational!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Rabbit's Choctaw Tail Tale"

Native American Storyteller Tim Tingle of Texas and cartoonist Pat Lewis of Pittsburgh, Pa., have teamed on "Rabbit's Choctaw Tail Tale," which blends humor and respect to the origins of the story.

Tim is a multi-talented individual, known nationally for his storytelling, during which he often sings and plays the flute to maximize the experience. One of his latest projects, the children's book When Turtle Grew Feathers, which is based on the traditional Choctaw folktale of Rabbit racing Turtle, has received enthusiastic reviews and great responses from reading audiences.

Pat is an artist who is gaining much attention in the comics world. His wonderfully fun monsters graphic novel called "The Claws Came Out" was just released by IDW Publishing. For Tim's story, Pat is using an old-school animation style that's reminiscent to the great Tex Avery and his contemporaries. (I'm a big fan of those cartoons so this story will be an extra treat for me!)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

American buffalo

My friend and local artist Steve Loya did a neat little sketch of a buffalo on a Starbucks bag. I found it intriguing and ironic--an iconic American image on an iconic American image. (Visit Steve's blog, Go Flying Turtle, when you can. It's fun and inspiring!)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Trickster and the Great Chief"

Winnebego historian and storyteller David Lee Smith of Nebraska gives us "Trickster and the Great Chief." In this tale, the half-man/half-wolf trickster is up to no good after the Great Chief dies--but he doesn't get away with it! Illustrator Jerry Carr, who has a smooth cartoon style, is working on the story. Below is a sample of one of the pages. (You may recognize Jerry from his wonderful all-age comic series Cryptzoocrew .)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Giddy Up, Wolf"

A member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, storyteller Greg Rodgers has crafted a great little story about a witty rabbit and a wolf called "Giddy Up, Wolf." It's one of the stories I can't wait for people to read, but I don't want to give away too much beforehand. Pared with Greg to do the art is Mike Short from Northern Virginia. Mike sent along a sketch (below) for the story. Sketch?! It's worthy of standing alone as a wonderful piece of art! Keep an eye out for some great breakdowns of the story forthcoming!

Friday, January 11, 2008

"How Alligator Got His Brown Skin"

I really enjoy animal trickster stories that explain why certain animals look or act the way they do. Storyteller Joyce Bear weaves a tale about a crafty rabbit and a crusty mean alligator, who actually has skin that's the envy of all the animals. Megan Beahr, who has a wonderfully fresh, cartoony style in her comics, is illustrating the story. Megan gave us a few breakdowns for the story (below).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Raven the Trickster"

I have an affinity for ravens so I was really excited to read Alaskan storyteller John Active's tale for the book. Sometimes stories are predictable because you've heard them many times or stories similar to them. Not this one. "Raven the Trickster" has plenty of turns that will keep you gluded to the page. For this story, I called on my Canadian colleague Jason Copland. I've followed Jason's work for a few years now and finally had the pleasure of working with him on a story for the Postcards anthology. He's such a dedicated and wonderful artist that I had to try to bring him into the project and this seemed like a good fit. And I lucked out: He was interested and had some time!

Below is what's called a "rough" page drawn by Jason for John's story. (It's like a storyboard for movies where you get the general things down to make sure they work before you render the final product.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Puapualenalena, Wizard Dog of Waipi`o Valley"

The "Trickster" book is a broad-reaching one, covering many geographic areas and many trickster forms. Perhaps the most exotic story in the anthology is "Puapualenalena, Wizard Dog of Waipi`o Valley" by Thomas Cummings Jr., a cultural educator at the Bishop Museum in Hawai'i. It is a Hawai'ian legend about a magical quest where the Wizard Dog takes on demons to recover a stolen item. Paul Zdepski, an inspiring professional artist from Northern Virginia, is rendering the story. He's using a slightly different approach to illustrating the story by drawing each piece separately on a computer and then laying each panel out on a page. Below are a few sketches of some of the characters for the story.

"Mink and Wolf"

Native American storytelling is an oral tradition. Although I appreciated the concept of verbally telling the story, I didn't see too much difference between writing and telling it. And then I heard Elaine Grinnell tell the story of "Mink and Wolf." She dictated the story to me over the phone and I was simply captivated. The inflections in her voice, the passion for the story, the humor--all of it made the story spring to life much more than words on paper. I looked for an artist for Elaine's story who had the same kind of energy. The first time I saw Michelle Silva's work was in a previous nature-based graphic novel that I did. Michelle did a wonderful pin-up of the main character, a snapping turtle called Mr. Big. I liked the energy of the drawing and looked at Michelle's other work, which included a wide array of topics and styles. I think you'll agree her illustration (below) for Elaine's story is captivating.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

"Coyote and the Pebbles"

Dayton Edmond--storyteller, artist and all-around wonderful entertainer--crafted the story of "Coyote and the Pebbles." It's a magnificent story with breath-taking scenery, one that only a few artists such as Micah Farritor could properly capture. Below is Micah's draft of Page 1 of the story. It's stunning in it's depiction of nature and is a beautiful way to set up the story.

Friday, January 4, 2008

"Azban and the Crayfish"

I'm drawing a 14-page story told by Native American storytellers James and Joseph Bruchac. It's a traditional Abenaki story called "Azban and the Crayfish." I've inked all the pages and now plan on watercoloring them. Below is Page 6 from the story. It's my favorite page because of the action in the story and the some of the panel angles.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


This blog is dedicated to the upcoming Trickster comics anthology, which is scheduled for release this fall from Little Foot Comics. The project comprises about 20 trickster tales as told by Native American storytellers from around the country. The stories range from the well-known tricksters, such as the coyote, to less-known tricksters, like the raccoon. The stories will be illustrated in color by some of today's best comic-book illustrators.

Aside from posting news, sketches and other tidbits related to the project, this blog is also dedicated to promoting projects to preserve the Native American culture. All the participating storytellers--and many of the accompanying artists--are involved in such efforts and we'd like to promote those works here as well.