Sunday November 12, 2017

Indigenous Comic Con, representation and the power of popular culture

Lee Francis is the creator of Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is also the man behind Native Realities, the Indigenous comic publisher

Lee Francis is the creator of Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is also the man behind Native Realities, the Indigenous comic publisher (Lee Francis/Facebook)

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When Lee Francis was growing up he never saw himself represented in comic books.

"There weren't a lot that really represented who I was especially growing up as a Pueblo kid," said Francis.

A few years ago he started Native Realities Publishing, a comic book publisher and opened Red Planet Books and Comics, a shop that specializes in Indigenous comics. The goal was to get Indigenous comics into the marketplace and change the perceptions of Indigenous people in popular culture, he said.

Indigenous Comic Con

Indigenous Comic Con will take place Nov. 10 - 12 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Indigenous Comic Con website)

Francis is also the creator of Indigenous Comic Con, a three day event focused on Indigenous popular culture held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Now in its second year, Francis said it's building on the success of last year's gathering, bringing in some big names from the Indiginerd community, like actor Eugene Braverock and the Baker Twins.

"We wanted to make it a great event in the same ways that our pow wows are. It's a wonderful social event for those folks that really enjoy this type of media and popular culture," he said.  "There's a lot of nerds out there who love to watch science fiction and love to read comic books."

Indigenous superheroes are becoming more mainstream with more and more Indigenous representations in popular culture. Something Francis said is critical for Indigenous children.

Red Planet Books

Lee Francis' Red Planet Books and Comics is the first Indigenous owned comic book store in North America. (Facebook)

"It's not to say that that's the only thing that they need, but it is something that really generates a self worth and identity formation when you can see that represented in movies or comic books," he said.

While representation is important, for Franics, Indigenous comic books and characters can help repair the damage of the past.

"I think there's a lot of great stories to tell using this medium," he said. "It's bringing our traditions with us while we continue to exist in a modern lifestyle."