January 26th, 2022 Last Updated on: January 26th, 2022
Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa and Choctaw) is well-known for his work as a visual artist, writer, and filmmaker. Now, he's adding comic book creator to his resume.
Alongside writer Tvli Jacob and illustrator M.K. Perker, Judd has released his inaugural comic book: “The Rez Detectives: Justice Served Cold.” It's a modern take on mystery comics with an indigenous twist.
The story focuses on the characters Tasembo and Nuseka and Nuseka's loyal dog, Billy Jack. They join forces to take on their first case on the reservation, which puts the reader right alongside the characters. The storyline showcases indigenous childhood experiences while engaging the reader through colorful characters that seem to come alive.
Here's a brief description of the comic:
This summer, Tasembo just wants to chill. But that's not an option when it's a scorching day on the Reservation and the Ice Cream Man is a no-show. In an attempt to impress his crush by solving the mystery, Tasembo joins forces with his neighbor, Nuseka, and his dog, Billy Jack, to take on their first case as the Rez Dog Detectives. With twists around every corner, this case won't crack itself, but when you combine Nuseka's brains, Billy Jack's loyalty, and Tasembo's persistence, justice will be served. Cold, that is.
The graphic novel is vibrant and engaging, reminiscent of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and even the Scooby-Doo gang. The book provides the reader a fun storyline and characters that Judd, Jacob, and Perker, hope become a staple within and outside the indigenous community.
Of course, this is just the latest big creative swing for Steven Paul Judd. He's collaborated with Marvel, Disney, HBO and many others. And he's made a career of creating artistic content with an indigenous edge. Many of his Native pop art pay homage to his Kiowa and Choctaw roots. The images are often, not just creative, but thought-provoking and powerful. His visual pieces manipulate images of popular culture and indigenize them.
Judd, like many indigenous people in the public eye, is aware that representation matters and is careful how those images are portrayed. The “Rez Detectives” is an expression of not just his creativity, but of the representation needed for indigenous children.
The characters, Nuseka, Tasembo, and Billy Jack offer a glimpse into a world that is oft-overlooked. And it does so with humor and tact. When most people think of Native Americans, their perceptions are warped, and monolithic. They don’t see the beauty of over 500 distinct tribal nations.
Judd is working to change that. Notably, he's supplying free copies of “The Rez Detectives” to all public libraries within Alaska, North and South Dakota. He typically maintains an active presence both in offline and online indigenous communities. And he frequently uses his social media to interact with his fans and share his new projects.
Above all, he hopes to use his platform to spark the next generation of Native creators. “The Rez Detectives” is merely Judd's latest way of doing just that.
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