San Diego’s Comic Con attracts over 100,000 attendees... 8-07

And One Kickapoo Indian. AAY!

by Arigon Starr
News From Indian Country

If you’re a comic book fan, you have no doubt heard of Comic Con International, a gigantic convention held annually at the massive San Diego Convention Center. Starting in 1970 in the basement of San Diego’s U.S. Grant Hotel, Comic Con is a gathering for comic artists, writers, publishers and fans from all over the world. The show also attracts Hollywood television and movie studios, plus the manufacturers of video games, action figures and hundreds of comic book dealers.

The convention was completely sold out for the first time in their 37-year history. Believe me, there was hardly a parking space or spare seat to be had. It reminded me of the long-ago days of waiting in line for the Rolling Stones and vying for one of those “festival seats” when it was cool to see a concert in a big stadium.

Yeah, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards looked like pieces of dancing rice onstage, but you had bragging rights that you were there! It took the stamina of a determined concert or theme park goer to endure the long lines and crush of humanity who waited patiently to see the cast of NBC’s Heroes or the latest clips from Paramount’s next super-hero franchise Iron Man.

The Con offered more than movie previews or up-close-and-personal encounters with the women of Battlestar Galactica. They had industry panels about taking your comic book idea and turning it into a movie script, pitching an animated show to network television and legal issues like copyrights and trademarks. For those of you who are aspiring comic artists – Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and others are looking for you. For no extra fee, you could submit your portfolio for review. The editors at DC Comics encouraged folks to strive for an individual style, stressing the fact that they already have a “Jim Lee.” Jim Lee made history with Marvel’s X-Men and now runs Image Comics. You won’t get hired if you draw just like him.

You might be wondering why a singer-songwriter turned actress-playwright wanted to attend a comic book convention. As a very young girl I attended Comic Con and have always been a fan. I cut my teeth on the Archie Comics, then moved on to Superman, Batman, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Creepy, Eerie and tons of other books. One of my favorite ways to get through biology or math class was to secretly open my sketchbook and draw comics featuring my favorite bands like the Beatles, Queen or the aforementioned Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil and always dreamed of putting out my own comic book.

superindian-web.jpg For the first time in print and exclusively for News From Indian Country, I’m sharing one of my final drawings from the upcoming Super Indian. Many of you already know that Super Indian is a radio comedy series that will debut in November 2007 on the Native Voice One and American Indian Radio on Satellite networks.

Super Indian will also hopefully become a full-fledged comic title.

I say “hopefully” because one of the many problems with being an independent artist is finding the budget to make dreams come true. Ask any artist, filmmaker, musician, writer or performer and we’ll all tell you the same thing. Launching a film, book, CD or play is a risky venture. Adding “It’s about Native America!” to the pitch will definitely get you the cold shoulder. We don’t have the “numbers” that will guarantee audience – and most Native projects that get the big budgets from major studios or networks are set in the past. My actor friends call them “leather and feather” gigs – and as we all know, we’re usually portrayed as vanishing people on the brink of extinction.

Super Indian is different. He’s young Hubert Logan, a boy growing up on the fictional Leaning Oak Reservation who gains super powers after eating tainted commodity cheese. Hubert has no idea how he’ll be affected by the “Rezium” that courses through him, but one thing is certain… life will never be the same. Many of the characters from the radio series will be in the comic book version of Super Indian, including his sidekick General Bear and smart, talking dog Diogi. The story will be told with big doses of humor and satire, much in the style of The Simpsons and Futurama.

Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons and Futurama was a special guest at Comic Con. The highlight of the Futurama panel was a staged reading from the original cast from the show (Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio and Maurice LaMarche). As I listened to the audience howl with laughter, I realized how much Super Indian was an homage to Matt Groening’s razor sharp satire.

I think we all know an Indian “Homer Simpson” or “Mr. Burns.” Here’s hoping Indian Country is ready to laugh at itself.

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