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Drawn to success: Dale Deforest’s ‘Hero Twins’ loosely based on Navajo creation story

Dale Deforest remembers reading his first comic book as a young boy.

“My father got me my first comic book,” Deforest said. “… While my dad was driving, I would say, ‘Dad, what is this word? Dad, what is that word?’ And he said ‘I can’t tell you; I’m driving.’ That’s probably one of my earliest memories of comic books.”

Cover of Dale Deforest’s comic book “Hero Twins.” (Courtesy of Dale Deforest)

Now Deforest creates his own comic book, “Hero Twins,” loosely based on the Navajo creation story.

“If you Google that, you’ll come up with the title of the Navajo called Diné Bahane’,” Deforest said. “I just pulled some characters from the Hero Twins portion and wrote my own story from it. My story is relative to it. I wouldn’t say it’s a retelling. You know how some people would quote, sort of fictionalize good versus evil based on Bible stories; I’m doing the same thing.”

Deforest’s interest in art began early.

“I think like any artist I was basically doing it ever since I was born,” he said. “I began my interest with comic books back in high school – that was ’92-’93. And then I started drawing my own books right out of high school just to tell stories. I hadn’t really gained any traction until recently.”

He self-published his first comic series, “Rez-Luv,” in 2010. He got about three books in and is considering revisiting it when he raises enough money to do so. He was able to publish the first “Hero Twins” through Kickstarter funding.

Pages from artist Dale Deforest’s comic book “Hero Twins.” (Courtesy of Dale Deforest)

“‘Hero Twins’ had an immediate interest, because I drew and colored a sample page that I kind of shopped around with my friends, saying, ‘Do you think this would be cool?’ It kind of took off from there,” Deforest said. “I used Kickstarter to publish my first ‘Hero Twins’ book last year, and I completely sold out of every single issue with that. Lee Francis with Native Realities saw it, he loved it and he wanted to be a part of it, so he agreed to publish it.”

The Kickstarter and the Native Realities versions of “Hero Twins” are very different.

“I honestly didn’t know whether I was going to get a chance to continue it, so I sort of made it a one-shot deal,” Deforest said. “It was one complete story that you know could or could not continue. And so with the Native Realities book, it’s sort of that Kickstarter story being retold over four or five issues.”

Deforest returns to Indigenous Comic Con. In addition to his comic books, Deforest will be bringing his prints, scribbles and doodles to sell at the event.

“Last year was such a resounding success,” he said. “It was sort of a gamble for me, because it was the first-ever Native American comic book convention, so me being familiar with where I grew up, I grew up in the Four Corners area, Shiprock and Farmington, and while I was growing up out there, people didn’t have a whole lot of money, so it didn’t make sense for people to spend their money on artwork or comic books when they could spend their money on food and car payments and all that. I didn’t know how to receive this event, and little did I know that there were people from all over the world that made efforts to be there.”

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