Van Camp, Robertson and LaPensee Join Volume Two Of The ‘Moonshot’ Anthology [Back Pages]
Following the huge success of Moonshot, the indigenous comics anthology, editor Hope Nicholson and publisher AH Comics announced a few weeks ago that they'd be bringing a sequel book to Kickstarter. Featuring stories by and about indigenous comics creators, the anthology collects comics from both new and established writers and artists, spreading their voice and stories around the world.
With the campaign for the second Moonshot anthology now running on Kickstarter, Back Pages got in touch with Nicholson and contributors David Robertson, Elizabeth LaPensée and Richard Van Camp to find out what makes Moonshot such an important project, and what kind of stories they bring to the second volume.
ComicsAlliance: What's the premise of the anthology?
Hope Nicholson: The first Moonshot anthology was a collection of comic book stories featuring indigenous creators that were not constrained to any one time, place, or genre. The second anthology is focused on stories that are set in the present and have ties to a tribal tradition.
CA: How did it first get started?
HN: I was told about the anthology by Andy Stanleigh a few months before it launched, around September 2014. I had concerns about the project, and chatted to him about the necessity of hiring indigenous voices. He agreed and hired me on as an editor to ensure that this happened. With the exception of David Mack's story in volume one, every other comic has an indigenous writer at the helm, and many of the artists are indigenous as well.
Elizabeth LaPensée: I contributed to the first Moonshot when Andy and Hope found my work --- which is primarily in games, but also includes comics and animations --- and invited me to write a story. I eventually ended up writing two comics for that collection! I'm glad to be involved in the second anthology, because it puts the emphasis on recognizing that traditions and teachings are still ongoing today.
David Robertson: For Moonshot Volume 1, Hope and Andy contacted me to be a contributor because they were aware of my graphic novel work, in particular in the area of indigenous peoples. In all honesty, I found out I was contributing to Volume 2 when I saw Andy’s post that I was! And as funny as that is, I was honored to be asked again. I loved working with Andy and Hope on the last volume, and this will be the third time I’ve worked with Hope overall. They do good work.
Richard Van Camp: This was my chance to show something beautiful about being Tlicho Dene. ... This was perfect timing for me, as I had just interviewed my Tlicho Elder named Rosa Mantla, who I adore, and she'd just told me about a tradition that our people do every October 31st: Tlicho Naowo.
It's a ceremony any family can do to honor their ancestors, relations, friends, and their connection to the land and animals. I love that it also falls on Halloween. I wrote it out as a comic script and sent it in, and was paired up with Nicholas Burns, who created the perfect artwork for the story. We're so proud of it. I'm hoping out Tlicho government has it printed up as a flip book in both Tlicho and English so that all Tlicho can receive a copy for free, so that all families know about something that deserves not to be forgotten.
This October will be our son's second Tlicho Naowo, and I can't wait for him to braid his fingers together and nod his head and say, "Mahsi cho. Mahsi cho. Thank you. Thank you."
It's our way of giving thanks.
CA: The first volume proved to be a fantastic success. What can we expect from Volume 2? What kind of stories are brought to the fore?
RVC: I have a story in there with Scott Henderson, who illustrated our book --- the Eisner-nominated A Blanket of Butterflies --- titled "The Magic of Wolverines." It is a reminder that all animals, all people have medicine power, and that our job in this life is to discover ours and share it. Also, one story that I'm working on with Andy Starleigh is about respect for water.
EL: Get ready for thunderbirds! As Moonshot was forming, I was working on an animation that includes thunderbirds flying and merging, then rising into the stars. Andy caught a glimpse of a piece from that animation and it inspired a conversation that led to a thunderbird comic for the anthology.
DR: Over the years, I feel like I’ve become more adventurous in my storytelling, and more adept as a graphic storyteller. Because of that, I’ve felt more confident to tackle difficult issues in powerful ways. For this story, I want to address the suicide epidemic in our First Nations communities in an unflinching, respectful, unique way. In part, I want to raise awareness for this epidemic.
I don’t know if a lot of Canadians know what’s happening in our communities. I think it’s a Canadian issue, not a First Nations issue. Secondly, I want to try to understand why it’s happening, and what I can do. And if one kid can get through a tough time through the teachings in my story, then that’s a good start. I’ve been blessed, too, to work with Elders in shaping the teachings in the story.
CA: As we’ve seen regularly, even recently, the treatment of indigenous characters and creators in comics is still very flawed. ComicsAlliance's own James Leask has written about this in the past, and is also writing an introduction for Moonshot volume two. How important is it to you that there are projects like this, which offer a spotlight for indigenous writers and artists?
EL: In my case, Moonshot provides an opportunity to speak out against and offer alternatives to comics and fiction that misrepresent Indigenous stories.
Specifically, I've been troubled by J. K. Rowling's appropriation and simplification of animikii (thunderbird) into a "wizarding house" in her ongoing Harry Potter series. Now we have people who are unaware, claiming that they are in the "thunderbird house," without understanding what they are saying or what the stories and truths entail. My hope is to share a perspective on thunderbirds that is true to my family and communities.
RVC: I feel that illustrated literature, whether it be comics, graphic novels, sequential artwork on Facebook or Tumblr, or even memes, are the perfect way to celebrate our culture, language, traditions, and to also show that we do walk in two worlds --- the traditional and the contemporary --- as a thriving culture that's always evolving.
HN: Projects where indigenous creators are at the helm are paramount to telling indigenous stories. It's very rare for a non-indigenous creator to know all the small details of a culture that someone is born in. Speech patterns and types of humor, for example, are just as important to a story as knowing the bones of a cultural story you read written down in an anthropologist's book.
DR: There are a number of incredible indigenous writers and artists in Canada, and those, too, that may not be indigenous, but have done incredible work within the area of indigenous peoples, including my frequent collaborator, Scott Henderson. So, projects like this are vitally important, because there are powerful voices in this country that need to be heard, and certainly deserve to be heard. I appreciate the work that Hope and Andy are doing in creating this, and other, anthologies.
You know, indigenous stories, for the most part, need to be told by indigenous peoples. We’ve had our stories told by others for too long (and others, in particular, that don’t have the knowledge to share the stories). So, Moonshot is one of the most important anthology series being produced in Canada today.
CA: When can we expect the final book to come out, if you reach your funding target?
HN: As it is a Kickstarter we are in the stages of confirming participation and working on pitch drafts (and accepting new pitches!) but only a few pieces of artwork have been completed so far. Once the Kickstarter has reached its funding goal we can get off and running on the work!
We are looking for a delivery date of June 2017 for the finished product.
CA: Where can readers find more of your work?
EL: You can see more of my work over on my website!
DR: And my work can be found primarily at pandmpress.com (my publisher, Portage & Main Press and its trade imprint, Highwater Press). I also have a pretty nice website, darobertson.ca, that you can search through to find my work, some media, and the occasional blog entry (that I should do more of).
The second volume of the Moonshot Anthology will run on Kickstarter until 30 September 2016, seeking a funding target of $56,000CA. To find out more, head to the Kickstarter page here!