Comics/Graphic Novels

Aboriginal Comics You Should Be Reading

Ardo Omer

Staff Writer

Ardo Omer has a BA in criminology and a minor in creative writing. She’s a senior writer at Women Write About Comics and Batman seeks her advice constantly. Blog: Ardo Omer Twitter: @ArdoOmer

I think it’s important to spotlight content about, and created by aboriginal peoples/native americans in the comics space. So here are some comics that I think you should check out. They deal with the past, the present, and the future. Some deal with real people while others delve into fiction. All of them will broaden your reading experience. Enjoy!

Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection. AH Comics. Volume 1. Edited by Hope Nicholson. 2015.MOONSHOT: The Indigenous Comics Collection (Alternate History Comics)

Edited by Hope Nicholson, Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection is a exactly as titled: a collection of comic stories by, and about aboriginals. I backed this book back in December 2014 through Kickstarter, and have had the pleasure of reading the hardcover beauty (the cover is by Métis artist Stephen Gladue titled “Northern Crow”, and it’s breathtaking. I’m in love with it). The collection tackles aboriginal stories of the past, present, and future as well as illuminating people on the different myths, and beliefs of various groups like the Inuit’s Qallupiluk (a creature that inhabits the dark ocean waters), or Ochek (the Cree perspective on the creation of the Big Dipper). I highly recommend picking this book up. It’s available for purchase on Amazon.

The Outside Circle. Patti LaBoucane-Bensen and Kelly Mellings. House of Anansi. Native Americans. Native Peoples. Aboriginal. Canada. ComicsThe Outside Circle (House of Anansi) 

I’ve written about The Outside Circle on the site already, and it’s something I definitely recommend reading.

Drawing on her decades worth of research, and experience working in reconciliation programs, Patti LaBoucane-Bensen (Métis) writes the story of a Aboriginal young man named Pete who goes to jail after killing his mother’s boyfriend. It’s during this time that he’s given an opportunity to participate in traditional Aboriginal healing circles, and ceremonies that educate Pete on his culture, and the roots of his trauma (both historical and personal). LaBoucane-Bensen’s story gives readers an insight into modern issues facing Aboriginals especially young Aboriginal people in Canada which includes suicide, drug use, abuse, poverty, and dysfunctional family dynamics.

Kelly Mellings is on art (John Rauch on colours), and does a fantastic job bringing the story to life. You can purchase the comic on the House of Anansi site, or on Amazon.

Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography. Chester Brown. Drawn and Quarterly. Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography (Drawn & Quarterly)

This pick, unlike the last two, doesn’t have an aboriginal creator behind it, but the reason it’s on the list is becasue of its importance as one of the few comic biographies based on an aboriginal. Chester Brown’s Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography looks at Riel and his “antagonistic relationship with the Canadian government”. He was a political leader of the Métis people, and led two resistance movements against the fledgling Canadian government which resulted in the founding of the Canadian province of Manitoba. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Riel is a big deal in Canadian history. I just started reading the comic, and I have to admit that I don’t know much about Riel as I should. This isn’t a surprise given how little attention aboriginal history, and culture is touched on in many Canadian schools. I highly recommend reading it if you’re Canadian, and I also think non-Canadians would enjoy a cool look at this historical figure. You can purchase it through the Drawn & Quarterly site or on Amazon.

Other Aboriginal Comics

Rabbit and Bear Paws by Chad Solomon

We’re More Than Just Beads and Feathers by Jason EagleSpeaker

Kagagi by Jay Odjick

Panelteer, Nikki Steele, did an interview with aboriginal creator, Arigon Starr, which also lists some great aboriginal comics to check out. Please feel free to add any aboriginal comics that haven’t been mentioned here in the comments!