I totally bought this comic book for the cover. I learned about it from a review on Rich in Color back in 2016. The cover immediately sold me on the book, but the review intrigued me when I learned that it features stories by indigenous storytellers across North America.
It is an anthology, so some stories appealed to me while others didn’t; however, I appreciate that this anthology presents stories about indigenous people by indigenous creators and that I got to learn a bit about their cultures from the stories. Some background is given either about the creator or the story at the beginning of each story, which I greatly appreciated because we sometimes learn what inspired the story or where it originated from and why. So in addition to reading this comic book to be entertained, I learned something new as well.
Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Vol. 1 ed. By Hope Nicholson
Fantasy; Sci-fi; Horror
Moonshot, volume 1
Produced by AH Comics Inc. and edited by Hope Nicholson, 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)
Much as I appreciate what this collection sought to do, the stories didn’t captivate me as much as the art did in some parts. I couldn’t tell if it was the storytelling styles or something else, but I wasn’t engaged in most of them.
The one that really stood out to me was the first in the collection — “Vision Quest – Echo” by David Mack (illus.). It’s actually an excerpt from the Daredevil Vision Quest series, which is told using Indian sign language. I liked this one both for the story told and the illustrations. Mack drew on his memories of times spent with his uncle, a Cherokee storyteller, to create the protagonist, Maya “Echo” Lopez, who is mute. Through Echo’s internal monologue, we learn about her father and her visit to an Indian reservation where she met a Chief.
“But I say that I must learn my own language to tell my stories. More than signs. More than sounds. More than words.”
There’s a tenderness to this story that I appreciated as Echo shows us how she interacts and communicates with others and realizes that she, like the Chief, is a storyteller. I like that this excerpt ends with her wanting to find her own way to tell her stories — wanting to find her own way to make her voice heard and understood.
The composition of this story made me think of a collage, which I think is fitting. Illustrations of faces and hands are overlaid with words, which I think calls to how observant Echo is and the various ways we communicate with each other — verbally and nonverbally. The dominance of earth tones helps decrease the busyness of the images, and the placement of the panels makes for an easy flow when reading this story (although it seemed intimidating at first). I really liked the overall presentation.
“Coyote and the Pebble” by Dayton Edmonds, illus. by Micah Farritor, is another one I enjoyed simply because it’s about how stars got in the sky (basically the coyote messed things up for everyone). However, I did not favor the illustrations.
“The Qallupiluk: Forgiven” by Sean and Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, illus. by menton3, is a story from the Arctic coastal region. It’s about a creature that’s popular among the Inuit but is rarely seen and is considered to be a shape shifter. The story spooked me, but I liked it. And I think a major reason why is the art, which emphasizes the atmosphere and spookiness of the story. The art is done all in inky black with smudges of white here and there to shape a face, represent snow, tipped with yellow to show the steely stare of a wolf, or provide a sharp contrast to show us the eerie grin of the creature from the ice. This story made an impression because it’s about how the creature is forgiven its horrible acts, so it stuck with me for a while after completing the book.
Another one I liked was “Tlicho Náowo” by Richard Van Camp, illus. by Nicholas Burns, which is about the “Night the Spirits Return,” which coincides with Halloween night on October 31. “It is a ritual that expresses love and respect to family members who have passed on, as well as to implore the spirits of the Caribou people for a safe and plentiful hunt for the community.” I love the story because it’s about passing on and honoring tradition. The illustrations for the majority of it are okay, but I loved the illustrations used when talking about the Caribou people. I like the flatness to the colors there, which made me think of pastels.
I also liked “Ayanisach,” which means “He who tells stories of the past” in Cree. It’s by Todd Houseman and illustrated Ben Shannon. “Ayanisach” is about the importance of and the reverence given to oral storytelling to pass on history, lessons, and traditions. The story is futuristic and, to me, seems to comment on colonization. I like how the story ends. It seems to remind us of the strength of tradition and oral storytelling, which prevails despite the chaotic state the civilization thrown in when invaders bring war and disease to it. The illustrations here are probably my favorite of the collection. I like the bright colors and line work used. It immediately appealed to me.
The cover art:
I have to talk about it because I love it so much. It’s actually a painting called “Northern Crow” by Métis artist Stephen Gladue that’s “inspired by the Plains Cree traditional dancers observed in Northern Alberta many years ago.” Apparently, there are various crow motifs in this painting as well as other culturally significant artifacts, and its appearance is due to it representing the dancer in motion.
I’m impressed by it. Before reading the description in the book, I thought it was just a mask with fractured light radiating from it…something like that. Either way, I love it and am impressed and think it’s a great cover for this comic book anthology. Very eye-catching.
It’s one I would recommend. Sure, the stories were hit or miss with me, but there’s much to learn and enjoy from reading this anthology.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I think it’s worth owning a copy.