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In November, Marvel Comics will spotlight Native American Heritage Month with an anthology one-shot honoring Native heroes of the Marvel Universe titled Marvel's Voices: Indigenous Voices #1 (out Nov. 18).
The special issue stars a sprawling cast of Marvel's powerhouse Indigenous characters such as Echo, Warpath, and New Mutant Dani Moonstar — and SYFY WIRE has an expanded preview of the one-shot anthology, as well as colorful variant covers of a slew of Marvel titles this November that will celebrate the arrival of Marvel's Voices: Indigenous Voices #1.
Marvel's Voices: Indigenous Voices #1 is written and drawn by an all-star assembly of the industry's most acclaimed talent, including Jeffrey Veregge, Rebecca Roanhorse, Weshoyot Alvitre, Darcie Little Badger, Kyle Charles, Stephen Graham Jones, and David Cutler.
An award-winning artist/writer hailing from Washington state, Veregge was the curator of the Jeffrey Veregge: Of Gods and Heroes exhibition, which ended its successful run this past January at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Here he's created a series of eight variant covers spotlighting: Dani Moonstar (Marvel's Voices: Indigenous Voices #1); Black Panther (Avengers #38); Hulk (Immortal Hulk #40); Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #52); Thor (Thor #9); Black Widow (Widowmakers: Red Guardian and Yelena Belova #1); Iron Man (Iron Man #3); and Captain America (Captain America #25).
Veregge, a member of the Pacific Northwest's S’Klallam Tribe, spoke with SYFY WIRE about how Marvel's Voices: Indigenous Voices #1 reflects the cultural influences Native artists and writers were raised with, as he drew on the traditional Formline art style for his evocative tribute covers.
"The art I create is based off an ancient art style used by Native Americans in the upper West Coast, parts of both Alaska and British Columbia known as Formline Design," Veregge says. "It is an art style based off a series of simple shapes and design principles that when used together become complex and beautiful storytelling works of art."
Veregge employs these techniques by thinking about, and reinterpreting, how shapes found in traditional Formline designs can be used to visually tell a story unique to the comic's characters.
"For an example of this process, I take a shape that is commonly used as feathers in traditional Formline designs, which are also symbols of flight and movement," he reveals. "So today what was once feathers are now capes or rays of light or bursts used to indicate movement."
"Growing up on my reservation (Little Boston, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Washington state), I was surrounded by great local Salish art created by our Tribe’s many carvers and artists from the Jones, Decoteau, and Ives Families," he recalls. "Totem Poles, Story Poles, Masks, Screen Prints and wonderful wood panels that adorned our Tribal Center and various businesses. Seeing all that art day in, day out for most of my life was hugely impactful on who I am. It is what I do today and served as a reminder of who I am when I am communicating through my work. It a cornerstone my creative being."
Veregge, in particular, singles out his Black Panther tribute cover for Avengers #38, citing his love for both the movement of the lines and the shapes within T’Challa’s design.
"The idea of the hero is an ancient one whose tropes and standards have changed very little over time. As an artist I believe it is more of how we communicate these concepts today that has really changed," he explains.
"My own people would use art very much like my own that would depict both exploits of good and evil but would use natural pigments, wood, and homemade tools to share their stories. I use a sketchpad with a Sharpie along with Adobe Creative suite to share my own. We both use vastly different methods of creative execution due to the times in which we live. However, the core of our stories both then and now remains the same."
For his own storytelling contribution to Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1, the artist crafted a short tribute to the Native heroes in the Marvel Universe and to both of the immortals: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, whom he felt joyfully obligated to recognize, as both a fan and a storyteller.
"Being a comic fan for over 40 years, it was my desire to create something that shed light on the various Native Americans who have played many parts and roles in the Marvel Universe with the hope that it stirs the reader to go back and revisit these stories," he notes.
"How I chose to execute this was how I hope I honored both Stan and Jack, as well as show how Native Art is both alive and can be whatever it needs to be in a contemporary world."
Check out the entire set of Veregge's Native American Tribute Variant Covers in the full gallery below. Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1 arrives Nov. 18.