“Meet the Trickster, a crafty creature or being who disrupts the order of things, often humiliating others and sometimes himself in the process. Whether a coyote or a rabbit, raccoon or raven, tricksters use cunning to get food, steal precious possessions, or simply cause mischief.”
So says the back cover of Trickster, the first graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales, a collection of 21 folktales all told by different Native American storytellers with various artists, each story with its own, vivid look and narrative style.
Released last year, Trickster is good enough to create fans of both graphic novels and Native folklore where they did not exist in one fell swoop. The artwork is outstanding, the stories charming and often powerful, explaining the creation of stars and islands, populated by mischievous animals tricking one another.
Edited by Matt Dembicki,who committed to not only showcasing Native American trickster tales but finding the right Native voices to tell the stories, is a rising star in the graphic novel world. This required all of the collaborators to do extensive research into the original versions of the story, as the Kirkus Review reports. For stories such as “Puapualelnalena, Wizard Dog of the Waipi’o Valley,” a hula expert had to be contacted to make sure the hulas were being rendered accurately.
The attention to detail pays off. Each story is unique, some harrowing, others witty and funny, but all examples of not only the power of the graphic novel medium, but also the enduring stories within the Native American culture that have been around for thousands of years. Mr. Dembicki’s stated goal was garnering interest among children and adults in Native American culture and stories. A beautifully wrought and powerfully told graphic novel is one of the best ways to do that. It worked for getting kids interested in Shakespeare,