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Native American

Four Souls of a Trickster

Well this is interesting: Four Souls of Coyote is a new animated feature film currently in production at Cinemon Entertainment in Hungary. Animation World Network showed us the teaser trailer. “Inspired by Native American folklore, the film retells the story of the universe’s creation. Billed as a call to live in harmony with the environment and save the earth, the film features adventures with animals, magic, hunger, greed, and the sacred circle of all creations… The film comes to Hungarian cinemas in 2023.” No word yet on a North American release, but the film is being produced with an English-speaking voice cast.

image c. 2022 Cinemon Entertainment

Cold Reality

Look, there’s no way we can describe The Misewa Saga better than the publishers do — so here’s what they say: “Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle-grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.” The first book in the series is called The Barren Grounds. Two children of the First Nations in Canada find themselves torn away from their families and forced into foster care by the government — a sad reality for many indigenous children in North America. Unhappy with their new “home”, the children search for a haven… and instead, find a magic portal into another world. There, they meet an anthropomorphic fisher (big weasel!) named Ochek, who sets out to teach them how to survive in the frozen wasteland that surrounds his village. Soon, accompanied by “a sassy squirrel”, the two humans set off on a dangerous mission to bring summertime back to the barren grounds. More books follow in the series as well, so look for them.

image c. 2022 Penguin Random House

Why the Crow is Black

Almost exactly a year ago we told you about a VR film in production called Rainbow Crow, based a Native American legend. Well now it seems that project has changed name and changed format. According to Animation Magazine, Crow: The Legend will premiere as a free-to-view animated feature on Facebook and YouTube later this month. “Written and directed by Eric Darnell [Antz, Madagascar] with input from Native American cultural experts and community leaders, the folklore-inspired tale arrives timed to Native American Heritage Month. The film features an all-star voice cast including John Legend as Crow, Oprah Winfrey as The One Who Creates Everything by Thinking, Sarah Eagle Heart (Native Americans in Philanthropy CEO) as Luna; 83-year-old tribal elder and lifelong Native rights crusader Randy Edmonds as the Narrator; Liza Koshy (Hulu’s Freakish) as Owl; Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Moth; Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One) as Turtle; and Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians, Fresh Off the Boat) as Skunk… Inspired by the classic Native American legend about the origins of the bird, Crow: The Legend respectfully illustrates the sacrifices the bird must make. As the most beautiful animal of the forest, Crow must risk everything to save those around him. With themes of diversity and self-sacrifice for the greater community, Crow demonstrates how one single act of sacrifice can have a profound impact to our world.” You can also check out the official trailer at Animation’s link.

image c. 2018 Baobab Studios

The Power of the Animals

Shaman’s Tears was a 12-issue full-color comic book miniseries written and drawn by Mike Grell in the 1990’s, published back then by Image. It told the story of one Joshua Brand, a native American who discovers he has the ability to harness the power of animals — and of the earth itself. He often used his powers in defense of nature, animals… and mutant animal-people, who showed up after escaping from government laboratories. Those creatures were later featured in their own 4-part spin-off series, Bar Sinister, written by Mr. Grell and illustrated by Rick Hoberg. Now, IDW Publishing has collected Shaman’s Tears together in a single trade paperback for the first time, coming this December. We can only hope they decide to do the same with Bar Sinister later on.

image c. 2011 Windjammer Comics


Tales (Tails?) of the Trickster Spirit

Many cultures in our world have a long tradition of folklore relating to the trickster spirit — a being of great power who mostly uses that power to steal food or precious possessions, cheat at games, fool the opposite sex (or sometimes the same one!), and so forth. Often enough the trickster spirit is embodied as an animal — Reynard the fox from Europe and The Monkey King from Asia are great examples. Native American cultures also have rich traditions of trickster story, whether he (or she, or both) takes the form of a raven, a rabbit, a coyote, or whatever. Now Fulcrum Publishing have brought together many of these stories in a new full-color comic trade paperback: Trickster — Native American Tales — A Graphic Anthology, edited by Matt Dembicki. More than twenty Native American story-tellers worked together with a select group of artists to bring to life stories like “Coyote and the Pebbles”, “How Wildcat Caught a Turkey” ,  “Rabbit’s Choctaw Tail Tale”, and many more. Take a look at Fulcrum’s web site for the book.

Luuna Volume 1

Tokyo Pop takes a new step into full-color full-sized graphic novels with the premier of Luuna, Volume 1, from Europe (and available now in English).  With a script by Nicolas Keramidas and art by Didier Crisse, Luuna tells the story of a young woman of the mystic Paumanok tribe, who enters the sacred forest to find her totem — her animal spirit that represents her inner self.  Unfortunately for Luuna, the Evil One plays a trick on her.  Now she’s cursed with not one but two totems: Wolves, white and black, representing her own good and evil sides… one capable of miracles, the other of great destruction. And so Luuna sets out to find the wise spirits of the Earth, hoping they can rid her of this curse… if the minions of the Evil One don’t get to her first!