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.