August 03, 2010

Dembicki explains Trickster's origin

In An Interview with Trickster's Matt Dembicki, Dembicki gives us some interesting tidbits. Here he is on the origin of his Trickster anthology:I have always had an interest in fairy tales, folk tales and mythology. My parents are Polish immigrants, so growing up I was privileged to hear many Eastern European tales not often heard in the U.S., in addition to stories popularized by the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. But it was “Little Trickster the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear”—a children’s book by Ken Kesey—that put Native American trickster stories on my radar. Then one day when I was at my local library, I was in the Native American section and I saw a copy of “American Indian Trickster Tales (Myths and Legends)” by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz. The wonderful stories and spot illustrations in that book inspired me to test whether the stories could work in a sequential comic format. As I started to do some thumbnail layouts, I could see that it would make a great comics project, especially if contemporary Native American storytellers would provide their own trickster stories.As in Sacagawea Inspired Comic-Book Guy, we see the profound influence a single work can have on someone's life or career.

And here's how Dembicki put the project together:It took a long time to gather this group of storytellers and artists. To find storytellers, I contacted universities, storytelling groups, museums and events that featured Native American storytellers. I also wanted to make sure there was a balance of geographic area among the storytellers, as well as a variety of trickster animals/being. Most people are familiar with rabbit and coyote as trickster animals—probably from watching the Warner Brothers cartoons—but there are other less-known but just-as-intriguing trickster animals, such as raven and raccoon. I also looked for a variety of styles among the artists, so each story could have a distinct look but fit within the overall feel of the book. Most of the artists I already knew or at least I was familiar with their works. I did make an effort to reach out to Native American artists as well and a handful did participate. Since the project didn’t offer payment up front—I started on the project before finding a publisher—it was harder to get artists to participate because of the time commitment to illustrate the stories. I was fortunate to find a good group of creators who found the project exciting and had faith in the book.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Journal Sentinel Reviews Trickster and Trickster's Starred Reviews.

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