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Friday, December 02, 2022 

Manager of Indian-American comic shop in New Mexico interviewed about his viewpoints

Yahoo has an interview originally published by Nerdist about Dr. Indiginerd, who founded a specialty store in Albequerque, New Mexico that's Native-centric, and the article sure seems intent on telling things from a PC narrative:
As any avid comic book fan knows, comics have something for everyone. Horror fantasy? Yes. Historical reimaginings. Sure. Futuristic romance with a dash of superhero action? You bet. Our wildest comic dreams come to fruition through a plethora of independent creators. They bring these stories to life, frequently filling diversity gaps left by larger comic publishers. Comic writers, artists, and colorists create their own lanes to craft tales that spark imagination, honor their heritage, and declare a future that isn’t white-centric.

However, these stories are sometimes hard to find in a sea of creative offerings. The average comic maker—especially those from marginalized groups—certainly doesn’t have the marketing resources of Marvel Comics. That’s where comic shops like Red Planet Books & Comics come into play. This Albuquerque, New Mexico based business is not only Native-owned, but is the only comic shop in the world that strictly publishes and sells comics by Indigenous creators. Red Planet provides a unique space and platform for Indigenous creatives to amplify their work.
That's fine in itself, but do the comics they sell have merit? That's a query left unanswered in this item, and it's honestly ludicrous how they emphasize visions based on race, or non-whiteness, as though that automatically equals good storytelling. As for their citation of Marvel, it's worth considering that they don't exactly market their products in any meaningful way anymore, so what's the point of bringing them up?
Your childhood laid a solid foundation for the work you’re doing with Red Planet. What led to its creation? And what are your ultimate goals for this business?

Dr. IndigiNerd: In 2014, I started our publishing line, Native Realities Press, with the idea of creating Indigenous-centric comic books, graphic novels, games, toys, and collectibles. And by “Indigenous-centric,” I’m mean media by, for, and about Native and Indigenous people. That was the original impetus. I wanted to really change the perceptions and representations of Native and Indigenous people in popular media. So, I started publishing some comics. That work is now sort of under Red Planet, which is both publishing and a shop. But at the time, it was just putting Native work out in the world. And we were getting some really good responses. People were really excited about this stuff because they’d never seen this before.

In 2016, I founded the Indigenous Comic Con as a way to be able to showcase all this work. I wanted to make sure that Native folks were represented not only in popular media, but across all spectrums. I wanted us to get together and have our own pop culture convention and highlight stuff for Native and non-Native audiences so that they could see all the cool stuff that Native folks were doing. I was like, “We’ve got a whole bunch of Native astronauts and Native alien hunters and detectives and all these other stories.”
It's fine to do stories starring Native protagonists, but I think it's fair to ask why these comics written by folks from Indian backgrounds may only be centered on stars of the same? If they wanted to, I'm sure they could conceive stories starring Hungarian, Dutch and Finnish characters too. There's zillions of wellsprings that various communities could build upon, and when it comes to Native background, is this new? Not necessarily, so it's absurd the news site makes it sound like it is.

Further along the interview, there is a good thing Red Planet's doing:
It can certainly be harder for folks to find these wonderful comics, so thank you for sharing a few suggestions.

Dr. IndigiNerd: Sure! When we’re talking about a pull list, we don’t have a machine for Native communities like a Marvel machine, where we’re going to be constantly putting out something every single month. We don’t put out a lot of floppies. We do a lot more trade paperbacks. A lot more collected things are going out.
I'm certainly amazed they're going a wiser route by publishing mainly in paperbacks and hardcovers, and wonder why the majors still insist on monthly pamphlets, when here, this could be a much more convenient route to follow. Nobody questions why the Big Two refuse to change their publishing approach, and come to think of it, I've already estimated the reason they continue down such a silly path is because it's easier sell political propaganda that way.
Hopefully, there will be more resources for that to happen, especially with the shifts happening in mainstream TV and film. There seems to be a recent rise in Indigenous representation with Prey and Namor’s appearance in Wakanda Forever. Do you think these portrayals are a beneficial step in the right direction?

Dr. IndigiNerd: For superheroes, I think they’re absolutely great… I want to see more of them. I think our representation is still too few and far in-between in many ways. You get this push but there also has to be work around how to correct 400 years of stereotypes and history. I love Namor’s reorientation towards being an Indigenous character, but I really want more characters that focus on our home realms in a modern period… there’s still space for Indigenous people to be in cities. I think Echo is probably the MCU project that I’m most excited about. She operates in Manhattan… I like the redemptive arc, but I also Native villain stories not being “cowboys and Indians.” I actually don’t have a problem with Native villains who have some moral relativism and nuanced layers.
It regrettably sounds like the guy's got no appreciation of Bill Everett and Stan Lee's basing Namor on Greek mythologies. And that's the drawback here. He doesn't have what it takes to argue that it's silly to act as though race-swapping has to be done at all costs. This kind of wokeness has already damaged the movie's box office receipts, and doesn't substitute for organic story creation.

It's great the guy in New Mexico's set up a specialty store for Native-produced creations, but adherence to PC at the expense of other folks' creations isn't helping any.

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