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Thursday, August 31, 2023 

1990s indie comic starring American Indian cast is revived

The Arizona Daily Star interviewed the author of Tribal Force (who also worked at times as an actor), an indie comic from 1996 whose stars are foremost of American Indian descent, and is now reviving the project:
Tucson native Jon Proudstar made history in 1996 when he released "Tribal Force," the first-ever comic book featuring an all-Native American cast of superheroes.

Despite having released only one edition after the publisher went out of business, the comic book has had an enduring legacy, including being featured in the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and inspiring a generation of comic book authors.

"Every comic convention we have gone to we will see other Native American or Indigenous creators out there and they will come up to us and say, 'Yeah, I'm doing this because I knew about 'Tribal Force' in 1996,'" said Gene Jimenez, who did the color for the original comic book with Proudstar. "It has kind of paved the way for a lot of things.”

After a 27-year hiatus, "Tribal Force" is back.

Proudstar, in June, released a new edition through Jimenez's Los Angeles-based Machine Comix. A second edition is due out next month; copies will be available initially through the book's Kickstarter campaign, set to launch in early September. (Visit machinecomix.com for details.)
One of the goals the guy created this comic for is very noble:
Most of Proudstar's characters are drawn from the children he counseled over a 34-year career working with survivors of sexual and physical abuse. Proudstar said one of his goals was to create relatable characters that could inspire those kids.

“I saw what the kids were going through. The suicide rate was just horrible,"
said the 56-year-old father of two. "I wanted to reach out to kids passively to show them there are other ways to deal with it than suicide. At the end of the day it is a superhero comic book, but from time to time it’s the brushstrokes of what the characters went through in their lives.”
An interesting reason to develop such a comic. Certainly, these children need a form of inspiration after the terrible experiences they went through that can help them recover. And, in case anybody thinks Proudstar's name sounds familiar, here's why:
Marvel's "X-Men" series briefly had Thunderbird, whose real-life name was John Proudstar. The character, who had superhuman athletic ability, was killed off in the second issue of "Giant-Size X-Men."

Proudstar was so impressed with the character that he adopted his name when he started acting at 18. Over a nearly 40-year career, he has appeared in 43 films and TV shows, including his most recent, playing the father of Willy Jack in FX’s hit series “Reservation Dogs."

It was because of "Reservation Dogs" that Proudstar was able to revisit "Tribal Force," he said. He used money from the gig to produce the book. Jimenez signed on to color and publish it through Machine Comix, which he launched to highlight comic book creators who were focusing on underrepresented communities and Indigenous cultures. Philadelphia artist Chris Williams came on to draw the new version, building on the original comic created by Tucson illustrator Ryan Huna Smith.
Certainly fascinating how the name given to a fictional character inspires the guy to take it up himself. Though I've stated in the past that there's too much emphasis on the superhero theme, Mr. Proudstar's goals are noble and impressive, and I wish him good luck in continuing his comic creation.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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