Folkloric stories are powerful. They can be emotional, funny, uplifting, or scary. But they always have pull to them, and that’s why they continue to haunt and entertain people.
While there are special classes in school that teach mythology and folklore, it isn’t always easy to find a class on Native American stories. Unfortunately, these stories are often pushed aside just as Native American culture and history can so often get left out of textbooks. Trickster: Native American Tales --- A Graphic Collection is a unique remedy for this. In the form of a comic book, it tells 21 Native tales about tricksters. The tales range in style and emotion: Some are straightforward, some are humorous, some are frightening. All of them are interesting.
While the collection is edited by Matt Dembicki, who also illustrated one of the stories, Trickster offers a wide variety of talent. Dembicki explains in his afterword: “For this book, I wanted the stories to be authentic, meaning they would be written by Native American storytellers.” He was able to find many talented people to help him make this collection a reality. One aspect that’s really interesting is how different the stories are from one another. Even if elements and storylines can be similar, each artist and writer has a unique way of portraying the story. The style of art especially varies: Some stories are dark and realistic; some are comical and outrageous; some look as if they came from the Sunday morning funnies section; some look like the art from children’s books; some look like cartoons one might see on television.
The binding thread for all the stories is that each one deals with a trickster. Sometimes the tricksters are animals like Coyote or Rabbit. Other times they’re humans. Sometimes the tricksters are really low-down; at other times, their actions are understandable. Usually their brains help them win the day, even if their methods wouldn’t always be considered acceptable.
This could be a great way to learn more about Native American culture through storytelling. Or, if the reader is already familiar with the stories, it could be enjoyable just for the sake of seeing how different writers and artists render the stories. Either way, it’s a very lively and readable book that libraries might really want to consider shelving in their folklore sections.
It seems like neglect not to mention the names of all the gifted people who wrote and illustrated these stories; Naming them will also give readers an idea of how many minds worked on this and how many creative differences can be seen. Trickster’s contributors are Dayton Edmonds, Micah Farritor, John Active, Jason Copland, James Bruchac, Joseph Bruchac, Matt Dembicki, David Smith, Jerry Carr, Eldrena Douma, Roy Boney, Jr., Michael Thompson, Jacob Warrenfeltz, Jonathan Perry, Chris Piers, Scott White, Tim Tingle, Pat Lew, Elaine Grinnell, Michelle Silva, Mary Eyley, Jim8ball, Greg Rodgers, Mike Short, Joyce Bear, Megan Baehr, Beckee Garris, Andrew Cohen, Dan Jones, Michael J. Auger, Eirik Thorsgard, Rand Arrington, Thomas C. Cummings, Jr., Paul Zdepski, Jimm Goodtracks, Dimi Macheras, Jack Gladstone, Evan Keeling, Joseph Stands With Many, Jon Sperry, John Bear Mitchell, Andy Bennett, Sunny Dooley, and J. Chris Campbell.
Reviewed by Danica Davidson on June 1, 2010
Trickster: Native American Tales