From Art Spiegelman to Doc Manhattan, comic books have always embraced outsiders. The ever-shrinking American Indian population fits that mold, perhaps a little too well, and thus its artists are ideal celebrants for a new generation of comic enthusiasts. The pencils behind the Comic Art Indigène exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian belong to talented Choctaws, Navajos, Lakotas, and Pueblos. Using the styles and colors of Anglo pioneers like Steve Ditko and Neal Adams, artists Marty Two Bulls, Jolene Nenibah Yazzie, and others have created a collective depiction of contemporary American Indian life that spans gloomy reservation scenes to heroic reimaginings of pre-20th century spirit quests. There’s a long history of comics subverting cultural expectations, and it’s fitting that a group of marginalized American Indians managed to do the same thing to comic books. Where else can one observe the trials, humor, and pain of contemporary American Indian culture accompanied by “BOOM,” “POP,” and “ZAP”?
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 10 A.M.—5 P.M. DAILY, TO MAY 31, AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN, 4th ST. AND INDEPENDENCE AVE. SW. FREE. (202) 633-1000.