IPI #16 – Dale Deforest
|Hey again and welcome to another installment of the invincible Indigenous Peeps in the Industry or “IPI” – my blog series celebrating Indigenous artists, writers, and other Native-creatives working in the comic book and/or video game industry. With us today is the great Dale Deforest, comic artist extraordinare. Dale shares with us his background, work in comics, and stories of Safeway in the 1980s. Enjoy!|
Michael Sheyahshe (MS): Background info: what is your tribal affiliation and where are you from?
Dale Deforest: My mother is from Chilchinbeto, Arizona and my father grew up in Salt Lake City. So I’m Diné & Anglo.
MS: Did you have a lot of cultural interaction growing up? (Family gatherings, dances, ceremonies, etc.?)
DD: Unfortunately not a whole lot. The only ceremonies I took part in were very closed off and involved only close family. Family gatherings are difficult only because it’s nearly impossible to take time off from work to make those 200+ mile journeys.
MS: When did you first get into comics?
DD: My dad bought me a What-If X-Men comic off the spinning rack at a Safeway grocery store back in ’89 I think.
MS: What is your favorite comic book of all time…something that turns FRI-SUN into a ‘lost weekend’?
The Age of Apocalypse and Onslaught runs. Yes, they were bad…so, so bad (especially Onslaught) but they sparked my affinity for continuity. I spent that entire summer chasing down each issue from X-Force to X-Men to Wolverine, to Fantastic Four…and so on. It was such a mess when I think about it, and so much of it was just…forgettable. Though still, I do often get lost in those issues.
MS: What is your specialty in the biz?
DD: I like to think I’m pretty good at art and maybe telling a good story. But I’m still working on it.
MS: Did you get special training and/or education for this?
DD: I went to school for photography, and just kinda fell into graphic design. I never really pursued an education in illustration. I kinda let that evolve on its own naturally.
MS: What other comics/projects have you worked on?
DD: I’m currently working with a publisher on some children’s books. In my spare moments I try to squeeze in some Hero Twins #2 production.
MS: Any comic books with Native American characters in them?
DD: Mine? Well, there’s my Hero Twins. My very own modern take on the Navajo Creation Story’s segment on that of the same name. There’s also my soon-to-be-rebooted Rez-Luv. My own “Love & Rockets” but on & off the Rez, if you feel me.
MS: Do you have an opinion about Indigenous characters in comics, video games, and/or pop culture?
DD: Yes. Much of it is stereotypical and upsets me to no end. But people like Lee Francis, Elizabeth Lapensée and many many others associated with Indigenous Pop X and Native Realites are actively changing that narrative and I can’t be more excited to be a part of it.
MS: Do you know of any other Natives in the “biz” (comics/video game industry)?
DD: Oh yeah. Shaun Beyale, Weshoyot Alvitre, Kieth Jim, Jon Proudstar, Maria Wolf Lopez, Richard Crowsong, Jay Odjick, Jim Terry, Elizabeth Lapensée, and yourself, Mr. Sheyahshe.
MS: Any words of wisdom for others (Native or non) looking to do what you do?
DD: Don’t stop. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Don’t let what anyone thinks or says hinder what you do, what you like or who you are. The second you begin to doubt yourself you are robbing the world of that special-something only you can give.