Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection - A Review

Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection - A Review

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection by Hope Nicholson :: Outlandish Lit's Graphic Novel Review
Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection edited by Hope Nicholson
Publisher: Alternate History Comics. 2015.
Pages: 174
Genre: Comic
Source: Purchased


MOONSHOT brings together dozens of creators from across North America to contribute comic book stories showcasing the rich heritage and identity of indigenous storytelling.

From traditional stories to exciting new visions of the future, this collection presents some of the finest comic book and graphic novel work in North America. The traditional stories presented in the book are with the permission from the elders in their respective communities, making this a truly genuine, never-before-seen publication. MOONSHOT is an incredible collection that is sure to amaze, intrigue and entertain!- Goodreads

When I first heard about this project, I was both very excited and kind of nervous. I had never before read short fiction in comic form. I didn't really have any idea that it was possible to tell an entire story within ten pages of panels. But this collection showed me how much can be pulled off. And it taught me an amazing wealth of things about the indigenous cultures of North America.

The stories range from visiting the origins of folklore, to seeing these stories' modern impact, to brilliantly imagined futuristic sci-fi stories blended with folklore. It continued to surprise me throughout, and the artwork is absolutely stunning. Between every few stories there's a 1-2 page spread featuring an unrelated work of art that often took my breath away.

Obviously it's hard to judge an anthology of stories written by different people. There are some that really stood out, and there were some that were just ok. A number could've used more pages to really develop. There were probably more anthropomorfic animal characters than I normally would've liked to read about, but that's sort of to be expected if some of the stories explore tales related to local wildlife. And there's one story that I just didn't understand at all. All of that being said, the good stories and the incredible artwork were both fascinating enough to make up for them.

A few of my favorites:

Vision Quest: Echo - In a beautiful collage of a limited number of images, a young deaf girl explains the importance of storytelling to her family and culture. She learns how storytelling is possible through images. I probably cried the first time I read this one.

The Qallupiluk: Forgiven - This one isn't technically a comic. It's a short story with an accompanying illustration every other page. It is SO CREEPY. The Qallupiluk is a creature from Inuit legend that comes from the deep Arctic ocean. It's kind of shapeless, with spines and fins, that can morph into other forms. In this story a young Inuit girl makes the mistake of approaching the creature in the water.

Ue-Pucase: Water Master - A futuristic story about two space travelers visiting another planet, this is based on Muscogee Creek story"The Young Man Who Turned Into a Snake." I loved the blend of space travel, modern dialogue, and what turns out to be startlingly real folklore.

Ayanisach - This one may be my very favorite, but it's hard to decide. An old woman teaches her grandson how to tell the story of their people. It starts with what sounds like folklore, then reaches into modern day and explains how an apocalypse of sorts went down. Extraterrestrials were involved and their people had to fight back. The protagonist goes on to tell the story to his young friends in the city, because the retelling of stories is what will teach others in the future.

Some of the following stories you may interpret as having specific morals and lessons, but that is not necessarily their intention. Stories really are the foundation of our lives. They are how those close to us will remember us after we've gone. In life, not all of our stories have a strict beginning, middle, and end. Our Best stories are moments in time that help us make sense of our world. And that is what this anthology is for.

There's been a long, long history of Indigenous peoples having their culture appropriated in mainstream media. Especially when it comes to comics, indigenous characters are often turned flat and one-dimensional; caricatures that are either foolish or barbaric. Their stories/traditions are blown out of proportion to comic levels and/or completely misunderstood. There is rarely any amount of respect involved when appropriating these stories and ideas. With this collection of comics, indigenous peoples are taking space that they deserve to create and tell their own stories. And they are damn good.


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