Another Critique of My Book

A contributor to livejournal had the following to say about my book, Native Americans in Comic Books:

“The book annoyed me a bit with its critique of Native American comic book characters whose stories are set in the past. Sheyahshe commented that these characters reinforce the notion that Native Americans disappeared in the Old West days. It’s a completely legitimate complaint–so the complaint itself I have no problem with…What annoyed me was the fact Sheyahshe brought this up each time he discussed one of these characters. It was very redundant. A few paragraphs at the beginning of the book, to comment on the problem and mention its applicability to all “historical” characters, would have made for a better reading experience.”
“Thankfully there are plenty of modern-day Native American comic book characters, so I didn’t have to suffer through his redundant complaint too much.”
“One omission that surprised me was the lack of commentary on the names that so many Native American comic characters have. The only name Sheyahshe commented on was Tonto‘s (Spanish for “stupid”).”
“Overall, though, I did enjoy reading the book. It made for a nice, nostalgic trip, and it sparked my interest in a comic book called Tribal Force, the creative work of a Tucsonan.”

I can certainly see how someone might see parts of the book as repetitive: as an examination of many stereotypes and many comic books, there’s bound to be a certain recurring element. Add to this, my use of a very specific set of criteria to evaluate the level of stereotype in each study and you can well imagine how a reader might feel this way, initially.

To certain extent, I agree that a short foreword / blanket statement about the problem inherent to all historic-only characters might have sufficed in some respects; however, given the sheer amount of continual stories that appear in comics, movies, and any other stories about Indigenous people, the event of portraying characters as historical artifacts only is exponentially more repetitive than I could ever be in simply documenting its existence. Yet, I can see how a reader might tire of reading about this tragic phenomenon – just as I tire of seemingly only seeing Native people with fringe, feathers, and on horseback.

But, as mentioned above, there are some modern-day Indigenous heroes in comics and we should celebrate them when we can.

This reader is correct about naming conventions for Native comic book characters: they certainly do seem formulaic and stereotypical, by nature. While the reader mentions the fine line between homage and misrepresentation, I would lean towards the latter, as I have seen far to few character names that seem realistic for Native people. Good call.

Also, I’m happy this reader was introduced to Proudstar’s Tribal Force comic. My hope is that many readers will also have similar experiences of discovery and interest. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment.

Check out the full commentary here:

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