January 01, 2008

SCALPED's inspirations

People have called SCALPED "The Sopranos on the rez." That's a valid description, but here are some of SCALPED's less obvious sources of inspiration.

Bad Horse of a Different Color:  Aaron Talks “Scalped”“Scalped” was first pitched to DC as a relaunch of their property “Scalphunter.” And though Aaron loves the character, he admitted that Scalphunter was a relic of the days when full-blooded Native American leads were taboo. Scalphunter himself was a white man raised by the Kiowa, mirroring the portrayal of the title characters in Atlas Comics' “Apache Kid,” Fiction House's “Firehair,” and DC's “Hawk, Son of Tomahawk.” And the few full-blooded Native American characters that did take center stage in that era (Pow Wow Smith, Indian Lawman, and Johnny Cloud, The Navajo Ace, to name a few) “were all still defined by their relation to white society.”

“We've rarely ever seen stories about Native American characters that were actually set in a Native American setting.” This was an oversight Aaron hoped to rectify with “Scalped.” Aaron drew inspiration from the recent films “Skins” and “Pow Wow Highway,” which broke new ground in that direction. He was also influenced by Western greats Sam Peckinpah, Cormac MacCarthy and Sergio Leone, and such modern-day crime classics as Brian Azzarello's “100 Bullets,” William Friedkin's film “To Live and Die in L.A.,” David Simon's critically-acclaimed TV series “The Wire,” and the works of novelist James Ellroy.
Comment:  Let's summarize Jason Aaron's influences. He loves Scalphunter, a "white Indian" character who has only the most superficial Native culture. In fact, SCALPED was originally meant to be SCALPHUNTER. I guess that's why SCALPED's main character is an Indian who left the rez for the white man's world and has only the most superficial Native culture.

Pow Wow Highway isn't recent, since it was made in 1989. Skins is possibly the most negative Native movie in recent history (2002). Aaron apparently wasn't influenced by more positive films such as Smoke Signals, Dreamkeeper, or PBS's Tony Hillerman movies.

Aaron also was influenced by a bunch of dark, gritty, violent books and movies that have nothing to do with Indians. Other than the two movies he named, his most recent Native influence comes from Peter Mathiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983). That book covers the violent conflicts of the 1970s that are now ancient history.

So...only one (negative) Native influence since 1989. Only three Native influences since the SCALPHUNTER comic book. Color me unimpressed by SCALPED's Native influences.

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