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Saturday, September 05, 2020 

A biased AP Wire article about Indians in comicdom, and a new special from Marvel

Here's an AP Wire article on the LA Times telling about Marvel's plans to "improve" representation of characters from Indian backgrounds in their output, without any clear citation of the heroic cast members they already have coming from such backgrounds:
Past portrayals of Native American or Indigenous comic book superheroes would often follow the same checklist: mystical powers, an ability to talk to animals, and a costume of either a headdress or a loincloth.

“Poor research was done. They were just going off of TV and film,”
said artist Jeffrey Veregge of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state. One of his biggest complaints is that mainstream “heroes from everyplace else had actual costumes” while Native characters weren’t represented well.
What about Dani Moonstar, who happens to be mentioned in this article? She wore a yellow-black spandex costume in the original New Mutants series from 1983-91. And what about Forge in X-Men, a guy with Cheyenne ancestry, who specialized in using his powers for building advanced mechanics, and had a blue spandex outfit of his own? Why, what about Wyatt Wingfoot, a frequent guest in the Fantastic Four who joined them on several adventures, and even later paired up with She-Hulk? I'm sorry, but this is just galling additional proof journalists won't research deep enough. I don't know about poor, but the AP Wire's research sure is sloppy and selective.
Growing up reading comic books on his tribe’s land outside Seattle, Veregge related more to non-Native heroes like Iron Man or Spider-Man. Now, he’s “living a dream,” overseeing a Marvel comic book about Native stories told by Native people.

Marvel Comics announced this month that it had assembled Native artists and writers for “Marvel Voices: Indigenous Voices #1,” an anthology that will revisit some of its Native characters. It’s timed for release during Native American History Month in November.
An interesting and important question is whether the stories have merit? If they're lacking, this special won't mean anything. I do admire the guy's got a whole art career he's building, but if the Marvel book he's working on is meant to fill diversity quotas, that alone won't guarantee an artistic success.
Native comic book fans hope it’s a new start for authentic representation in mainstream superhero fare. Marvel says the project has been in the works since long before the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice, which has prompted changes including the Washington NFL team dropping its decades-old Redskins mascot.

“It’s correcting a problem that started a long time ago,” Veregge said of the comic book project.
It sounds all the more like this article was just brewed up for pushing political correctness that's accelerated of recent. There's still sports fans who want the football team to keep its name, and even among American Indians, the team name has some supporters. The part about "authentic" representation is also silly, because in a sci-fi world, what's truly authentic about anything? Again, I don't see how Forge's background in technology doesn't count; it's a very remarkable power he's got, combined with his amazing intelligence.
Veregge, who has drawn more than 100 covers for Marvel and other major comic book publishers, was a natural fit to lead the project. In February, he wrapped up an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York. “Of Gods and Heroes” was his interpretation of Marvel protagonists such as Black Panther and Thor, integrating shapes and lines inspired by tribal art styles.

“You want to make sure people recognize the characters themselves, but I also want them to see it’s a Native voice behind that,” Veregge said.
Since they mention BP, that's pretty strange they don't seem to make a big deal out of how he portrays a guy who could wear traditional outfits in Africa, and participate in local rituals and customs. I see the statement made here risking the notion of a call for "ghettoized writing", because it implies only one specific community has the knowledge to take up the task, which the following seems to imply as well:
Lee Francis IV, owner of Red Planet Books & Comics in Albuquerque and an independent publisher of Native comics, helped find up-and-coming Native artists to join the Marvel anthology. An organizer of an annual Indigenous Comic-Con who’s descended from the Laguna Pueblo, Francis said comic books weren’t far off from some tribes’ storytelling traditions.

“I don’t want to speak for all Native folks, but I think there’s a visual acuity and storytelling sense that aligns perfectly with the comic book medium,” Francis said. “Not only words and writing, but this visual storytelling that harks back to our own stories and petroglyphs — rock art — ties it back to our ancestors.”
Well guess what? I can't claim to speak for all Israeli citizens, but by contrast, all I would ask for is that a writer who's of non-Jewish descent do extensive research on the populace, not rely on leftist propaganda hostile to Israel, and if he/she needs to take a trip here to do any kind of research, that could come in useful too. And doesn't this statement actually work in favor of the best comics casting Indian protagonists in the past?
Racist stereotypes found their way into the medium because comic book artists often relied on what they saw in movie and TV westerns, Francis said. And before westerns, political cartoons dating to the 1700s demonized or ridiculed Native people.

For so long in comics, Native Americans have either been the villain or the stoic sidekick. It’s frustrating when a genuine “Indigenerd” sees “everybody else gets spandex and you get a headdress,” Francis said.
In other words, another article pushing the liberal diversity and inclusion line, and again, based on Marvel's past Indian creations, including Shaman and his daughter Talisman from Alpha Flight, a falsehood. I don't know if you could call all these past creations stars of the show, but they were anything but sidekicks like Tonto in the Lone Ranger, and they did have their own agency, including the aforementioned Dani Moonstar. Say, what about Dawnstar from the Legion of Super-Heroes, who came from a planet called Starhaven where descendants of US Indians were inhabitants? Do any of DC's creations count? And Wyatt Wingfoot didn't usually wear a headdress either. When Johnny Storm first met him in college in the mid-60s, he was wearing a fancy suit and tie, as seen in the panels I posted here. The way they describe this, you'd think all Indian descendants couldn't afford modern clothes save for jeanswear.
Dezbah Evans always identified with Marvel’s “X-Men.” The series about young mutants struggling with powers while being persecuted by society seems to parallel how America treats Indigenous communities, said Evans, a 24-year-old comic book fan and cosplayer from Tulsa, Okla., who’s Navajo, Chippewa and Yuchi.

She’s looking forward to the Marvel book because it will feature one of her favorite mutants: Danielle Moonstar, a Cheyenne heroine who conjures illusions based on people’s fears.

“It’s very validating that these are my peers — these are people I see at conventions and I’ve had relationships with,” Evans said of the writers and artists creating the book. “I’m really proud they’re able to get to this level.”

She hopes it’s the beginning of an expansion of the comic book world — not just the Marvel Universe. Mainstream pop culture still has far more Native male superheroes than female ones.

“Whenever I think of super Native women, they’re all mothers — my mom, my grandma. They’re the first heroes in all of our lives,” Evans said. “It would be really interesting to have a modern Indigenous mom living and being a superhero.”
I think I've already cited 3 younger women of Indian descent, and Gen13's Sarah Rainmaker makes a 4th. But while the US isn't innocent in its treatment of Indian residents in past centuries, and did commit offensive acts, why do they make it sound like all Indians were saints? Past research shows that Indian tribes like the Cherokee were guilty of participation in slavemongering of blacks, including for chattel purposes. In 1758, a woman named Mary Jemison was kidnapped by Seneca tribesmen in Pennsylvania, and lived much of her life in their community, which serves as but one example of women and children who were taken hostage by Indian raiders in the time and era. Was that acceptable or humane conduct? Making it sound like Indians made no mistakes on their end of the spectrum is taking a serious risk of whitewashing history.
Verland Coker, 27, a comic book fan of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma, calls Marvel’s endeavor a step in the right direction but says comic books could go further.

It’s rare, for instance, to see Native superheroes speak in their own language. Incorporating some language would be an opportunity to educate non-Natives and promote tribes, many of which are struggling to preserve their language for younger generations
, said Coker, who lives in Albuquerque.

“My worry is that we can occasionally lean into the monolith myth, and while any representation is great, we often only get a select few tribes,” Coker said. “I just would like to see more Native artists on mainstream products.”

That may not be far off based on the reception Veregge gets. When he meets children on the reservation where he grew up or at comic book conventions, their parents like to point out his work for Marvel. It’s an interaction he takes seriously.

“I get to tell kids: ‘I grew up on this reservation, too. You can do this, too,’” Veregge said. “I know who I’m representing. ... I carry them wherever I go.”
Honestly, no matter what the background, I don't think it's a good idea for anybody to work at the Big Two as they stand now with political correctness, something even POC find galling. If more representation is important, isn't that what indie comics are for? If you know how to market and make pitches, chances are you'll succeed in accomplishing much more today in the world of independents than in the mainstream proper. Certainly learning ancient languages has advantages (and the same could be said for Celtic and Slavic dialects in Europe), but working at the Big Two in their current form doesn't.

And the AP Wire's article, again, is just a lot of bias going around, without making the vital case for merit in the process. It sure doesn't sound like something written by somebody who appreciates the hard work Stan Lee and other veterans oversaw in their time.

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It makes sense that merit is vital. But isn't that true of any story, by any artists, in any medium? Why stress it so much in stories by minority artists, as if you are anticipating that their work will be second-rate? You don't harrumph about merit this way when it comes to announced projects from alt-white right wingers. It is clear just from the article that this guy is passionate about his work and innovative in his art; it sounds like it will Be good work, certainly worth checking it out.


Yikes, that is disturbing news. I'm already preparing a topic. Thanks.

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