July 17, 2015

Moonshot comics anthology debuts

Native Characters and Creators Thrive in 176-Page 'Moonshot' Comics Anthology

By Stephanie WoodardExcitement crackles off the pages of Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, a handsomely produced book just out from AH Comics. The striking art and captivating stories by Indigenous authors and artists will appeal to adults in addition to the typical adolescent comic-book reader. Moonshot has a place in colleges, schools and libraries, as well as on individual bookshelves.

The title comes from a poem by superstar Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. In her poem, published in the book, she rejoices in the visionary framework of indigenous storytelling: “Off into outer space you go my friends / we wish you bon voyage / and when you get there we will welcome you again.” Sainte-Marie pokes fun at the false expectations and stereotypes often assigned to indigenous people: “I know a boy from a tribe so primitive / he can call me up without no telephone.”

The book’s Native contributors and others (some indigenous storytellers are paired with top non-Native comic-book artists) have no problem smashing tired stereotypes. In Moonshot’s 176 pages, you won’t find any of what award-winning Caddo comic-book author and historian Michael Sheyahshe calls "fringe-and-feathers Indians"—sepia-toned sidekicks for non-Native characters who are somehow better at being Native than their indigenous buddies. Instead, Moonshot’s stories feature complex Native characters, exhilarating action and thought-provoking lessons threaded through with humor.

The 13 comics published in Moonshot slip-slide along a continuum that arcs from the mythic past through the present to a sci-fi future. The storylines are either little-known or invented—“to help break down ideas of what Native spirituality and culture ‘should be,’” according to editor Hope Nicholson in a foreword to the volume. Importantly, she says, the book emphasizes the diversity of Native cultures.
Comment:  For more on comics anthologies, see Review of Trickster.

Below:  "A panel from 'Water Master,' one of the tales in 'Moonshot.' Courtesy AH Comics."

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