Alibi V.26 No.45 • Nov 9-15, 2017 

Arts Interview

Indigenous Comic Con Round Two

Tewa Tales of Suspense! creator Jason Garcia visits the annual convention

Tewa Tales of Suspense

Indigenous Comic Con is returning for year two, bringing all things “Indigenerd” to Albuquerque Nov. 10 through 12 at Isleta Resort & Casino (11000 Broadway Blvd. SE). The expansive weekend-long festival features everything you'd expect of a comic con—celebrities, cosplay, panels, vendors and movies—but this one also has robots, puppetry, a maker space and so much more! Indigenous Comic Con, which celebrates the expansiveness of Indigenous comic culture, is bringing to Albuquerque the likes of Eugene Braverock best known for his role in 2017's Wonder Woman, the actresses/models/gamers/entrepreneurs The Baker Twins and a myriad of local and regional artists, like Jason Garcia, creator of Tewa Tales of Suspense!, who hails from Santa Clara Pueblo.

Looking to his upcoming appearance at the second annual Indigenous Comic Con, where he will display work and deliver a talk on “Pride and Power: Reimagining Indigenous Identity,” Garcia took some time out of his preparations to answer some questions about his history, inspirations and work.

Alibi: Tell me about your first introduction to the arts and the arts your family practiced?

Garcia: I come from a family of artists—potters, painters, jewelers and various crafts people. I grew up in a very immersive, creative artistic environment. My parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all work with pottery in some way. I grew up by attending various gallery shows and exhibitions that my parents were involved in and in a sense, didn’t know anything else.

What was your first introduction to comic books?

Through my older brother. I learned a lot from him, [he] exposed me to different types of music, movies and comic books. While my parents were participating in gallery shows ... we would research comic book stores in different cities and visit them. Also the local barber shop was next door to a grocery store and we would often stay for an hour after our haircuts and read comics and buy some with the leftover change. I've always been immersed in popular culture and have interests in movies and collecting comics and action figures.

What appeals to you about the medium?

I've always loved the graphic format of comic books and the stories that they tell [and] the ability to take you to different worlds and universes.

When did you develop of the idea for Tewa Tales of Suspense!?

I began developing the idea for Tewa Tales of Suspense! around 2005, when I was visiting multiple sites related to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, plus I knew that I wanted to document and research this important story/historical event related to my own Tewa culture. Plus, also creating a way to visually tell this story and make it easier for a younger audience [was important to me]. Children, including my own, that have learned their history and choices made by their ancestors that have allowed us to maintain, sustain and keep our Tewa and Pueblo cultural identities intact despite 500+ years of contact.

The first clay tile piece was created in 2007 and since then I've created multiple pieces in the series using different mediums. Traditional clay tiles mimic the size of comic books. I've also created pottery that tells stories in a circular manner. The exhibition Tewa Tales of Suspense! is currently at the Poeh Museum in Pojoaque Pueblo and runs until January 2018 and is a seven serigraph print suite illustrating the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. This work was part of my MFA in printmaking work at the University of Wisconsin.

How do you translate Native culture and stories into imagery like this?

The majority of the work comes from personal research which includes reading various historical documents, books and other writings regarding the Pueblo historical events. I also speak with Pueblo elders and people to gain the Native/Puebloan perspective, I visit ancestral sites and places to see on the ground the area where this history took place, along with researching museum collections to see artifacts associated with the event.

What is your highest hope for readers and viewers of your work?

That younger Native audience members become interested in their own tribal histories, family lineages, and culture and want to investigate and share their own stories with the world.

What excites you about Indigenous Comic Con?

That there are more and more Indigenous/Native people/artists/creators/writers that are expressing themselves with the comic and graphic novel format. Plus, that there will be other artists that I personally know and others that I do not know personally, but I enjoy and am inspired by their work.

What will you discuss in your talk at Indigenous Comic Con?

I will be discussing and explaining my background, influences, creation of the work in all types of media and my exhibition [at the Poeh Museum].

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