New Comic Book Anthology INDIGINERDS Celebrates Ever-Evolving Indigenous Culture

Indiginerds cover
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Indiginerds cover

Iron Circus Comics—the premiere publisher of award-winning, critically-acclaimed graphic novels in the American Midwest—presents INDIGINERDS, a brand-new comics anthology that aims to celebrate the ever evolving Indigenous culture. Organized by the ever talented editor Alina Pete, one of the co-editors on Iron Circus’s wildly successful and award-winning folklore anthology ‘Woman in the Woods’, this book collects work from several Indigenous artists and writers. From gaming to social media, pirate radio to garage bands, Star Trek to D&D, and missed connections at the pow wow, Indigenous culture is so much more than how it’s usually portrayed.

This anthology series is being funded by a crowdfunding campaign on BackerKit, running from October 16 – November 16, 2023.

“Most stories about Indigenous people are focused on two things: current grief or the past tragedies of colonization,” says editor Alina Pete. “But First Nations culture isn’t stuck in the past, and generations of Indigenous kids have grown up watching the same movies and tv shows that non-Indigenous folks have. This pop culture has crept inexorably into our lives, and we love video games, cosplay and other nerdy things just as much as everyone else! INDIGINERDS tells modern stories about modern Indigenous people, and celebrates our joys and passions.”

INDIGINERDS is a full color comic anthology. Its 120 pages contain 11 exhilarating stories of Indigenous people balancing traditional ways of knowing and pop culture. The line up includes:

  • Bvlbancha Forever by Ida Aronson and Tate Allen
  • Walk With The Earth Mother by Maija Plamondon and Milo Applejohn
  • Roll Your Own Way by Jordanna George
  • Digital Eden by Raven John and Asia Wisely
  • Amplification/Adaptation by Em Matson and Nipinet Landsem
  • Welei (I Am Fine) by Bianca “binkz17” and Rhael McGregor
  • Saving Throws by James Willier and Sam “Mushki” Medlock
  • Dorvan V by Alina Pete
  • Uncured Horror by Gillian Joseph and Wren Rios
  • Airwaves Pirates by Autumn Star and PJ Underwood
  • Missed Pow Wow Connection by Kameron White

“The mainstream view of First Nations needs an update,” said publisher C. Spike Trotman. “INDIGINERDS is here to show the vibrant and evolving culture experienced today. This is sure to be another amazing addition to the comic collection of anyone interested in Indigenous culture!”

We had the opportunity to speak with the INDIGINERDS editor Alina Pete, who is a nehiyaw (Cree) artist and writer from Little Pine First Nation in western Saskatchewan. Alina is best known for their award-winning comics, but they also write short stories, poems and ttrpg supplements, and specialize in compositing and VFX.

Below is an exclusive visual excerpt from Bianca “binkz17” and Rhael McGregor’s ‘Welei (I Am Fine)’, and read on to hear more how Alina Pete put the series together, what readers can expect, and what they hope readers – Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike – will love about INDIGENERDS.

INDIGINERDS editor Alina Pete
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INDIGINERDS editor Alina Pete

Where did your love of art and drawing begin? 

Basically from the time I could hold a pencil. My mom was an art teacher early in her career (she now teaches decolonial practices in academia), so I’d often spend evenings in her classroom with paints and pencils while she marked assignments. My grandma also encouraged me and bought me “how to draw” books for just about every Disney movie that came out. I’d spend afternoons at her house drawing on stacks of computer paper, often pausing cartoons so I could draw the characters on screen.

How did you first get into the world of comics as a writer and artist?

I actually started in animation, not comics, though I’ve always had a love for both. I took 2D and 3D animation classes out of high school, and met several friends there who were just as into comics as I was. I worked as a SFX artist for a while in Saskatoon’s fledgling film community, and in between contracts, I’d doodle comics as a way to keep my drawing skills sharp. That’s how I ended up starting Weregeek, the webcomic I wrote and drew for over fifteen years.

Can you tell us about Indiginerds, your role as the editor, and what readers can expect from this series? 

Just like the tagline says, Indiginerds features stories of modern Indigenous life. Too often, we get depicted as being tied to the past, but in reality, Native folks watch the same movies and play the same video games as everyone else. This leads to some interesting contrasts – like finding a new beader on TikTok and Paypaling them money for a piece, or the exhibition of XR artwork I got to see at the last pow wow I was at. 

What was your process in choosing/finding the artists and stories to be part of the series? 

I found all of the artists and writers for this anthology through a Call for Submissions run through the ICC website. Unfortunately, our submission period was when Twitter (now “X”, I guess…) was first having a melt-down and hemorrhaging users, so our reach wasn’t quite as wide as I’d hoped it would be. I’d wanted to feature some stories from Indigenous peoples overseas, but maybe that’s something to explore in a follow-up anthology. 

Can you tell us about the wide range of topics showcased among the Indigenous artists, and why it was important to have that variety

People tend to have a very limited and stereotypical view of who Indigenous folks are, and one that’s rooted in how we’ve been portrayed in various forms of media over the years. Generally, this stereotype boils down to buckskins and alcoholism, which, you know, isn’t great. That’s changing a little, especially with shows like Reservation Dogs and comic characters such as Echo and Snowguard, but there’s still over a century of misinformation to overcome, so every chance we get to add a new and fresh perspective to how we’re portrayed is so vital.

In Indiginerds, we have everything from stories about D&D, video games, teaching traditional language skills through streaming, to a tour of a Indigenous-run mutual aid collective in New Orleans that’s helping to revitalize cultural traditions.

How do you hope Indiginerds will serve as a new perspective into Indigenous culture, that often doesn’t get shared in mainstream media? 

I like to say that Indiginerds is a one-of-a-kind anthology because I don’t know of any other comic anthologies out there that focus on Indigenous joy, or on stories of our modern lives that don’t have the specters of colonization and trauma as a recurring theme. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t mention of that in some of our stories – it IS a thing that affects our lives on a regular basis, which is part of why it’s so important to seek out the things that make us happy!

What were your favorite stories from the collection? 

I can’t pick a favorite from these stories because I love them all for different reasons, but I think the story that might hold the most surprises for readers is “Indigenous Pirate Radio” by Autumn Chacon and PJ Underwood. I don’t think people realize how much punk culture and Indigenous resistance movements overlap! 

Can you tell us about working with Spike Trotman and Iron Circus Comics on this series, and how supportive the company has been for especially underrepresented writers and artists? 

I haven’t worked a lot with Spike on Indigenerds because she completely gave me free rein with the project, trusting me to know what stories would have an authentically Indigenous voice and be interesting and accessible to non-Native readers. But ICC has been very supportive of the project overall, and between the success of ‘Woman in the Woods’ (the first anthology I co-edited through ICC) and this project, I think we’re going to prove that really stellar, radical stories get told when BIPOC folks support and uplift one another.

As an Indigenous artist and writer yourself, what does it mean to be an editor of a series like this? 

Oh, it’s huge. Not only am I getting the chance to work with a really stellar lineup of Indigenous artists and writers, but I also get to promote and highlight their talents to the rest of the industry, and that’s SO important. I think the comics industry has a real hunger for authentic Indigenous voices, but no idea where to go to hire Native artists, so having an anthology like this showcasing our talent is really important.

What kind of impact do you hope it will have on both Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers alike? 

I hope this anthology brings Indigenous readers joy at seeing themselves represented as we really are, and I hope that non-Indigenous folks see how rad we are and invite us to their next gaming night! For real though, I would love to see some more Indig folks represented in the TTRPG space, and on Actual Play streams like Critical Role or Dimension 20 because I’m a huge ttrpg nerd. (Maybe playing some Coyote & Crow, which is another great Indigenous-led project!).

Keep scrolling to see an exclusive excerpt from Bianca “binkz17” and Rhael McGregor’s ‘Welei (I Am Fine)’. You can be a backer of Indiginerds by contributing to the Backerkit crowdfunding campaign while it is still running until November 16, 2023. Check out more of Alina Pete’s work HERE, and visit the Iron Circus Comics website to see the range of titles available in their store.

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