IPI #12 – Theo Tso
|Welcome again, my friends, to another installment of Indigenous Peeps in the Industry or ‘IPI‘ – my blog series that celebrates Indigenous artists, writers, and other creatives working in the comic book and/or video game industry. Today, we have the great pleasure of speaking with Theo Tso, creator of Captain Paiute. You can find Theo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/teddy.tso.9. To see more of Theo’s work or purchase either digital or hard copies of his comics, visit his website http://www.warpaintstudios.net or contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Sheyahshe (MS): Background info: what is your tribal affiliation and where are you from?
Theo Tso (TT): I am enrolled Southern Paiute with the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, located in downtown Las Vegas, NV (where I still reside) on the small colony that was established back before Las Vegas was Sin City
MS: Did you have a lot of cultural interaction growing up? (Family gatherings, dances, ceremonies, etc.?)
TT: We were always at powwows, or at some tribal function. There’s an awesome feeling that I get when I’m around a large group of Natives at social gatherings.
MS: When did you first get into comics?
TT: I got into comics at an early age, I believe I was 5 years old and was rummaging through a tied-up bundle of them and I instantly fell in love with the artwork. That’s what drew me into reading comics; then I finally got a pencil and a sheet of paper and started to draw what I saw in those books.
MS: What is your favorite comic book of all time…something that turns FRI-SUN into a ‘lost weekend’?
TT: As the artist in me I would have to say anything with a really talented penciller and inker. I’m more of the artistic side of a comic than the story.
MS: What is your specialty in the biz?
TT: I’m a artist before anything else, I like to draw and create
MS: Did you get special training and/or education for this?
TT: No I’m a self-taught artist. I took Todd McFarlane’s advice, who is a huge influence in my style, which was to learn to draw from comics. That’s how I taught myself storytelling: I looked from my favorite artist and saw how they approached their craft.
MS: What other comics/projects have you worked on?
TT: Currently I’m working my comic Captain Paiute and I have a few other projects that I’m working on which I will debut at a later date.
MS: Have you created any comic books with Native American characters in them?
TT: I have done a small project for Rob Schmidt and his Peace Party comic. I was the artist on the project
MS: Do you have an opinion about Indigenous characters in comics, video games, and/or pop culture?
TT: I think we need more of them; we, as Indigenous people, need to tell our stories and not have others tell them for us. I feel we as storytellers have a responsibility to make sure that the stories are told correctly.
MS: Do you know of any other Natives in the “biz” (comics/video game industry)?
TT: While attending San Diego Comic Con I got a chance to meet with Arigon Starr, creator of Super Indian and we talked about the possibility of having an all Native publishing studio that would publish Indigenous comics. We felt that there was a need for Indigenous comics and the time was now.
So Indigenous Narrative Collective was born. We put out one comic and that was the INC Universe that featured all of our characters. That was the first time I got to see my character, Captain Paiute printed into a comic book. That was an emotional for me because it was a dream come true!
MS: Any words of wisdom for others (Native or non) looking to do what you do?
TT: You’re not going to get rich by doing this, You gotta love the art form, which is exactly what this is: a form of art. Hone your talents and do your best work! Tell your own stories and learn (not steal) from other comic book artists who you look up towards as inspirations!
Last, but not least…draw, draw, draw, draw….everyday! Even if it’s a tiny sketch, keep you the pencils moving!!!