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Indigenous Comic Con showcases American Indian pop culture

Indigenous Comic Con has grown exponentially since its beginning two years ago.

“We started with very little and are expecting close to 2,000 people,” says Lee Francis, creator of the event. “We’ve moved space because we outgrew the National Hispanic Cultural Center from the first year. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Francis’ company, Native Realities Press, has been doing a lot of work in publishing comic books and the idea for the comic con arose in late 2015.

The event features indigenous creators, illustrators, writers, designers, actors, and producers from the worlds of comic books, games, sci-fi, fantasy, film, TV and graphic novels.

Francis says he wants the Indigenous Comic Con to highlight the amazing work that brings understanding about the indigenous experience to the world of popular culture.

In fact, the popularity has grown so much that Indigenous Comic Cons will be held in Denver, Tucson and Melbourne, Australia, next year.

“We have a really great crew on the ground,” Francis says. “I think a lot of people have been interested in getting the convention to move to different places. We’re excited that it’s continuing to grow.”

For the second year, Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf is the executive sponsor of the convention.

The event will feature the interactive story exhibit “Electric Chaco,” which re-imagines Chaco Canyon in an alternative future and a celebration of the spirit of Chaco Canyon as a gathering place for indigenous peoples throughout the Americans.

Francis says there will be three days of panels, workshops, experiences and activities for all eventgoers.

There will be numerous activities for youths and families throughout the convention. Featured guests include actor Jonathan Joss and Eugene Brave Rock; comic veterans Timothy Truman, Arigon Starr, Weshoyot Alvitre, author and Hugo Award winner Rebecca Roanhorse and game designer Allen Turner.

“We’re also bringing in Tatanka from WWE,” he says. “Everything that we to do is bring a spotlight to the work that Native people are doing today.”

A guest from the comic book side will be Chicago-based artist Jim Terry. He has worked on “Sundowners,” “The Crow: Skinning the Wolves” and “Alice Cooper Vs. Chaos.” He also writes his own titles, “Edgebright & Leofwyn: The Gift.”

“The story was completed some time ago during a time of great change in my life, and I self published them in black & white and sold them at conventions,” Terry says via his blog. “I figured that was probably the end of things, but life has pushed me around a little and I had to look back to my friends E&L for a little strength and found they were still in trouble. I am currently working on “E&L: The Banner of the Serpent,” which finds them a bit older but still young and foolish and full of courage and emotion, facing new and deadlier trials.”

Francis says actor Wes Studi will also be a guest.

“I’m so excited to get Wes out to the convention,” he says. “He’s such a big part of the success of Native Americans in film and TV.”

Francis is excited to see the convention’s growth and says the future is bright.

“We’re in our third year, and it seems like validation now,” he says. “More eyes are getting put on it. The weirdest thing for me last year was I was at Indian Market and heard people talking about our event. It was interesting because I’m behind the scenes and people were coming up to me about it. People are beginning to understand the impact of Native pop culture. We’re taking control over our own stories, and we get to present ourselves in a way that’s authentic.”