The following is an interview with editor Alina Pete regarding the recent launch of the BackerKit campaign for the comic book anthology, Indiginerds, in association with Iron Circus Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Pete about how the anthology highlights and celebrates Indigenous culture, what makes Iron Circus the perfect home for the collection, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent launch of your crowdfunding campaign for Indiginerds! What are you most excited for readers to experience with this new anthology which highlights and celebrates the ever-evolving Indigenous culture?
Alina Pete: Thank you! I’m beyond excited to be sharing these stories with everyone. I can’t wait to see how this anthology tears down the idea that Indigenous folks are still living in the past. We’re here, we spend WAY too much time on the internet (Hi, Native twitter/Bluesky/whatever platform we’re all on now!), and we have opinions about all kinds of nerdy things! With shows like Reservation Dogs and movies like Prey getting more and more non-Indigenous people interested in us, there’s something of an Indigenous renaissance going on right now, and I want to see that reflected in the comics industry, as well.
BD: In bringing together so many talented writers and artists for the project (and contributing your own work to the collection!), what can you tell us about your shared creative process in building a cohesive and complementary narrative for the anthology?
AP: I wasn’t too worried about having a cohesive narrative for this anthology beyond the concept of “modern Indigenous life,” because showing off the wide variety of different ways that we express our nerdy passions was one of the goals of the book. That’s how we ended up with everything from a story about dating on the pow wow trail, working in mixed-reality VR or playing MMOs, to running a vlog about horror movies. There’s such a huge spectrum of ways to be a geek in the mainstream, and Indigenous folks’ passions aren’t any different!
BD: What makes Iron Circus Comics the perfect home for this collection of stories?
AP: Besides having a fan base of folks who are into non-mainstream comics, Spike Trotman has built a place where you don’t have to play by the usual rules of the publishing industry. As a result, we have a story in Indiginerds about using pirate radio stations to support acts of Indigenous resistance, which is against the laws of the colonial countries we’re living under. I don’t think this story could have gotten told without significant censorship under any other publisher. As it is, we’ve gone to lengths to protect the identity of the author of this story, since most of the things they describe in the story are illegal.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Indiginerds will connect with and impact readers?
AP: Indiginerds is going to have a huge impact on people who live on Native land but have never actually met an Indigenous person face-to-face before. There’s a perception, especially in the United States, that we’re gone–relics of the past—or else exist entirely on our reservations, when in reality, we’re everywhere. We’re in your city, posting memes online, and in your Discord server. And these stories about nerdy interests—which the readers might share—will go a long way to show folks that we’re not living in the past. We’re watching the same movies and playing the same video games that you do!
BD: What are some of the incredible backer rewards that you would like to highlight for those who support the crowdfunding campaign?
AP: We’ve got some great extras lined up that will be revealed soon, but the biggest thing I’m excited for is the chance to send free copies of this book to Indigenous cultural centers and on-reservation libraries! Part of Indigenous culture is giving back to our communities, and I’m very committed to doing so both for Indiginerds and on all of the projects I work on.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AP: I’m currently illustrating a graphic novel called Lost at Windy River that will be available through Orca Press next year. It’s a story about a young Indigenous girl who got lost in the Canadian wilderness during a blizzard, and used her traditional knowledge of the land and its medicines to survive. It is also a story that was stolen by Farley Mowat for a chapter in his famous book, People of the Deer. The author is that girl’s granddaughter, and she’s committed to telling an accurate account of her grandma’s survival story.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Indiginerds and your other work?
AP: The best way to keep up with updates on Indiginerds is to follow (or better yet, back us!) on BackerKit. We’ll be posting regular updates on the project both during the campaign and afterwards.
The best way to find my work is at alina-pete.com. You can also find the websites for our contributors linked via their bios on the Indiginerds BackerKit page, and I encourage people to give them a follow. Our artists post some AMAZING stuff!