When Matt Dembicki began sketching some of the animals depicted in a prose anthology of Native American trickster stories, he was struck by two things—how great the tales would be “in a sequential art format,” and how such a project would require Native American storytellers to “write their own stories based on their tribes’ trickster tales to maintain authenticity.” Dembicki spent two years compiling a crew of storytellers and artists willing to participate in the project. He faced some initial skepticism from participants about whether the works would be “just loosely based on” their work, but those fears dissipated once they saw that Dembicki intended to stay true to their original versions. The book’s contributing illustrators also faced their own challenges, doing extensive research into the stories they were tasked with re-creating. One had to “contact a hula expert to make sure he was rendering the hulas accurately in ‘Puapualenalena, Wizard Dog of the Waipi’o Valley,’ ” says Dembicki, while another had to research the bark huts depicted in “The Yehasuri: The Little Wild Indians.” Graphic novels, says Dembicki, are increasingly being used as “tools in the classroom to introduce literature and other subjects to students.” He sees Trickster as a “visual sampler” of Native American stories that he hopes will “garner interest among children as well as adults to explore Native American stories and culture.”
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Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection
Fulcrum / June / 9781555917241 / $22.95 paperback / 10 & up