French comics put an end to clichés about the Far West and the Amerindians

Franco-Belgian authors have been revisiting the myths of the Western and North America for several years in order to restore their place and their authenticity to the indigenous peoples.

The Redskins get their revenge. If the Franco-Belgian comic strip has always been passionate about the western, its authors today try to get out of the clichés about Native Americanswhom they no longer want to present as secondary characters.

In the Wild West of lucky Lukefrom Belgian Morris, the natives were stooges. The Swiss Derib was one of the first to be passionate about these civilizations, creating a child character, Yakari, and another, adult, a trapper who blends into this culture, Buddy Longway. Series blueberry also dealt with “Indian Wars”among other topics.

Mays “the western, in comics, remains too often centered on the settlers, the cowboys, forgetting the point of view of those who lived on the continent long before”, explains to AFP the author of comics Tiburce Oger. The conquest of the West was the subject of Go West Young Man, 2021 album for which the screenwriter had brought together 15 designers. Taking another look, Indians! The White Man’s Dark Shadow was published in November by Grand Angle editions. “This is the cry that the settlers make in the films of John Wayne, in the scenes where they are attacked. We wanted to show behind the scenes.”says Tiburce Oger.

What interests me is to make people want to go deeper into this story which remains largely unknown.

Tiburce Oger

Sixteen designers have their names on the cover, including Derib who illustrates the year 1869. The other stories span from 1540 to 1922. “These short formats could each give rise to 50 album pages. What interests me is to make people want to go deeper into this story which remains largely unknown.says Tiburce Oger.

It is also the party of an author, Patrick Prugne, who released in October the sixth volume of his “Indian sagas” : Pocahontas (editions Daniel Maghen). This Princess of the Powhatan Tribe, in what is now Virginia, is remembered through the stories of an English settler, John Smith. Their veracity is doubtful but they fed a myth, untilto the famous Disney animated film released in 1995.

He tries to return to a more plausible story of this heroine, while acknowledging his debt to those who have transmitted it for four centuries, even if distorted. “Perhaps it’s a good thing, because without this spotlight on an exotic love story, our eyes would not have lingered so much on this brutal colonization of North America”writes the author in an afterword to the album.

far from civilization

Faced with this artist recognized for the quality of his watercolors, it is another style that the young Neyef adopts. He has an aesthetic closer to the manga. But the same objective: to highlight the history of the Amerindians in its fiction Hoka Hey! (Rue de Sèvres editions, Label 619), released at the end of October. It tells the story of a Lakota boy, assimilated by a pastor, who leaves through the West.

The western is a genre that has always interested me, but where I have always preferred natives to cowboyssays the author. I documented myself and I was marked by a biography of sitting bull, by Farid Ameur. I didn’t want to disguise the Lakota culture“.

The scenario leaves a lot of room for a violence that is the fact of all, in these great plains where few have come to bring order. “We are, there, very far from civilizationunderlines Neyef. All that remained for the natives, when they had respected the rules and the treaties that the settlers ended up trampling on, was to rebel”.

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