On November 18, Marvel Comics will celebrate its growing roster of Native, Indigenous, and First Nations creators with a one-shot titled Marvel's Indigenous Voices, which includes stories about characters such as Dani Moonstar, Red Wolf, Warpath, and more, all told by Indigenous, Native, and First Nations creators.
Helping organize Marvel's Indigenous Voices, and lending his art and writing to the one-shot, is Native American artist Jeffrey Veregge, a member of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. Over the last few years, Veregge has built a reputation as one of Marvel's go-to cover artist thanks to his striking style, which incorporates aspects of tribal art, Native heritage, and contemporary comic book style.
Newsarama spoke with Veregge ahead of the release of Marvel's Indigenous Voices to discuss the importance of highlighting characters of Indigenous, Native, and First Nations heritage, as well as the growing stable of Indigenous creators Marvel employs, and the significance of the timing and content of the one-shot.
Newsarama: Jeffrey, Marvel's Indigenous Voices brings together Indigenous, Native, and First Nations creators from all over America. What’s it like working with such a talented pool of creators, with such an important focus?
Jeffrey Veregge: It is an incredible feeling. Not just to be a part of this groundbreaking issue, but to see fellow Native artists and writers that I know share with the comic world what most of us in Indian Country already knew, that the talent pool runs deep. But it is more than just sharing our skills, it's the opportunity to put our fingerprints on the DNA of these Native characters, giving them an authentic voice based on our own experiences as Indigenous people.
Nrama: How did this one-shot come together? You've been working with Marvel for some time – what was your role in helping organize Marvel's Indigenous Voices?
Veregge: The conversation started a while back, when I had my Marvel exhibition at the Smithsonian two years ago. I feel my role was more of getting the ball rolling, talking with C.B. Cebulski and various editors about honoring Native American Heritage Month. What started as just a singular cover pitch grew into the event you and the comic world are now seeing.
Nrama: What are the themes that run through the stories in this anthology? Is there an overall takeaway you're hoping readers will come to?
Veregge: The themes vary from creative team to creative team, what I am hoping for is that this becomes a springboard that launches the reader to want more of these stories and more of these Native heroes that dwell in the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: As seen in the roster featured in this one-shot, Marvel has some notable Indigenous characters. Who stands out to you as a character due for a bigger push?
Veregge: I would love to see Thunderbird rise from the ashes. To do a Thunderbird story arc that would involve Warpath, Dani Moonstar, and Forge as fellow Natives and mutants in a mystical mystery that would involve the Spirit Realms, allowing the reader to see even more Tribal culture and myths would be fantastic.
Nrama: On that note, is there a character or title you’d like to work on that you haven’t yet?
Veregge: Yes, Daredevil. I love Matt Murdock, and to add to his legacy would be pretty damn awesome. I would also like to work on Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy as I am a huge space geek, and who wouldn't want to write or draw Rocket & Groot?
Nrama: You created a variant cover featuring Kushala, who has her own title coming next year. What makes her such an interesting character to focus on?
Veregge: She is a great character, Intense, with a tragic origin story that has its roots in American history that does not get spoken about that much. The creative team behind it are fantastic and are crafting a tale that feels straight out of the days of Strange Tales, while honoring the people that inspired Kushala's story.
Nrama: Marvel's Indigenous Voices lands at a time of year when the United States is especially focused on the legacy of our Indigenous population, and the colonization Indigenous people continue to experience here. What impact does it have for Marvel to publish a special focusing on Indigenous creators and characters right now?
Veregge: It is extremely important. It's not just the opportunity to share the work of these native artists and writers, but it is having a company like Marvel say they believe in this enough to put their name behind it. Marvel is showing the world of comics that Native tales, as well as Native artists and writers are viable in today's marketplace. Their actions help tell the world that Native Americans are more than the old stereotypes by showcasing this work.
Nrama: Beyond this one-shot, how would you like to see Marvel Comics center Indigenous, Native, and First Nations creators and characters going forward?
Veregge: I think Marvel has been on a great path for a while now, not just with Native Americans but other cultures and ethnicities. They recognize and appreciate the value of diversity. It is my hope to see more books like this and eventually see Native teams tackle more non-Native heroes and tales. Working in the industry for the past six years has been a dream come true, and I hope the actions of Marvel open new doors for more people like myself.
Planning to read Marvel's Indigenous Voices #1 digitally? Here are the best digital readers on the market.