Welcome back to another Fake Geek Girls Like Us interview. Fake Geek Girls Like Us is a feature on +5 Charisma where I interview some awesome geeky and nerdy ladies out in the geek world. This month I get to chat with Alyssa General about a graphic novel that she is working on called Sky Woman.
1. Hi there Alyssa! Can you tell us all a little bit about yourself?
Shé:kon, Alyssa niwakhsennò:ten, Kanyen’kehá:ka niwakonhwentsyò:ten, wakenyáhten, táhnon Ohswé:ken nitewaké:non. My name is Alyssa General, I am Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. I am a graphic artist with the Six Nations Language Commission, an artistic director for Spirit & Intent, as well as a Kanyen’kéha (Mohawk) Speaker.
2. Lets talk about the graphic novel that you are working on titled “Sky Woman”. What is the story will you be telling in Sky Woman?
Sky Woman, is meant to be an empowering story for young Haudenosaunee women. We are going to revisit the traditional re-telling which originates from the creation story, but also to bring her into modernity to share her perspectives on the world she helped create.
3. How did this project get started? Tell us about the team that is involved in this? You have told me that this will be a collaborative works, can you speak to the different aspects of the comic book that you will be working on?
We wanted to create a comic that was going to resonate with our culture, our language, and most of all the coming generations of speakers. I work with Lindsay Brooke Johnson who specializes with the Cayuga Language, and who is doing the writing and translating for the comic. We had been discussing how awesome it would be to create a strong, female, superhero like Wonder Woman, but one who is Haudenosaunee. We quickly realized the woman who embodied all of these qualities was Sky Woman. After, I started developing ideas around what she would look like, what her superhero logo would be, and what her superpowers would be. It’s been amazing, and interesting to reimagine her this way!
4. Comic books and graphic novels are a great way to share ideas with many different people. Can you explain the decision to share this story in a comic book format?
Storytelling is fundamental to who we are as Haudenosaunee. It seemed so natural to combine the two together. We wanted to create language resources and a character our audience could identify and connect with, as well as retell the story in a way that is creative, exciting, and not well explored by language users. The beauty of comic books from the perspective of a language learner is that you are able to create context for the language with imagery, as well as model conversation through dialogue.
5.Can you discuss the decision to have the comic book in Cayuga?
The most important reason for producing this comic in Cayuga is to keep the language alive. So much of our knowledge, and understanding of the world is embedded in our language, which is why we are trying to create more domains for speakers. With many indigenous languages on the brink of extinction, and it is vital at this time to be exploring new ways in which to restore, maintain, and safeguard our languages.
6. If you had to describe your art practice in three words, which ones would you use?
Inspiration, Creation, Evolution
7. Do you think there will be a follow up to this project? Are you looking to make more comic books?
The traditional story of Sky Woman has such depth and complexity, there is definitely more of this story to be told. At this time, we are looking to expand the comic into sister languages of Cayuga, such as Mohawk and Onondaga.
8. When will we all be able to get a copy (and where can we get it)?
March is when we are set to release the comics. We haven’t yet discussed where it will be available. I think the first priority will be getting this to speakers, immersion programs, and out into the community.
9. Do you have other projects you are working on now or in the near future? Can you tell us a little bit about them?
My sister and I own a company called Spirit and Intent, which focuses on writing, filmmaking, comics, language, and art. We are hoping this year to focus more on filmmaking, creating our own stories, and sharing some traditional ones. We are currently preparing for our first book launch!
10. Are there Indigenous artists and creators working in the realm of comic books or are influences by comic books that you are inspired by?
Teyowisonte Tom Deer, is such a phenomenal artist and colourist, seeing the work he has been doing with Kahnawá:ke Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa (KOR) has been one of the biggest inspirations. Before him, I had not seen someone capture our stories, and our language in such a contemporary style. It was incredibly refreshing to see my favourite childhood stories be brought to life in a medium I have always loved.
11. Are you reading any comic books/graphic novels right now? What are your favourite ones that you have read?
Oh goodness, haha. I am reading quite a few right now. I am currently reading Outcast, Wytches, and Sandman (again). I absolutely love Sandman, I feel as though Neil Gaiman was one of the main reasons why I became so interested in mythology. My favourite was Dream Hunters. Yoshitaka Amano’s illustrations were exquisite, and completely transformed aesthetic of that comic.
Thanks to Alyssa for chatting with us! Make sure to check out her links down below. Thanks for tuning in! Fake Geek Girl Like Us is an interview series on +5 Charisma where we talk to girls in nerd culture. Email email@example.com if you would like to be featured!