Canku Ota logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 8, 2001 - Issue 44


pictograph divider


Choctaw Artist Finds a Project He's Passionate About


 by Bill Raddford Knight Ridder News-Published August 16, 2001

In searching for a comics project to stir his creative juices, Gene Gonzales looked not to the high-flying costumed heroes that he loved as a child, but to his rich American Indian heritage.

"Tales of the Cherokee" is the result -- three ancient stories adapted and illustrated by Gonzales. The tales, in simple, charming fashion, draw on Cherokee myth and legend passed down from generation to generation to answer such questions as how the world was made and why moles live underground.

"From the beginning, I wanted to write and draw my own creation," says the 38-year-old Gonzales, a commercial illustrator who has done numerous covers and other work for small-press books, as well as a bit of work for bigger comics companies such as DC. "But I didn't find anything that I was really passionate about. This project was what I was looking for."

The idea of "Tales of the Cherokee" or something like it, using American Indian myths as a springboard, had been running through his head for years, he says. Gonzales is part Choctaw.

"The heritage comes from my mom's side of the family," he says.

"My great-grandmother was a full blood. I spent vacations with her in Texas and Oklahoma when I was young. She even spoke the language."

A longtime comics fan who grew up entranced by the adventures of Superboy, the Teen Titans, Green Arrow and others, Gonzales cites a long list of comics artists who influenced him. "And if you look at my artwork from my school days, you will see swipes from every one of them," adds Gonzales, who describes his style as "somewhere between realistic and cartoony."

Despite his fondness for the superheroes of his past, he says he's happy sharing his own vision. Comics that are considered mainstream -- books such as "X-Men" and "Superman" -- reach a lot of comics readers, he says, but not the general public, not the mainstream of society.

"The group I would like to reach includes the comic-buying public and the people who have an interest in Native American folklore. The parents who want to show their kids a new world."

"Tales of the Cherokee" is the first title from Gonzales' Mandalay Books and is available for order through comics shops; the book was featured in the July issue of Previews -- sort of the comic-book world's version of TV Guide -- and arrives in comic-book stores in September.

Meanwhile, Gonzales is hard at work on "Tales of the Cherokee" No. 2, which will feature another trilogy of stories, along with a pinup by Michael Avon Oeming, the artist on Image's "Powers." And Mandalay Books plans to publish a second title as well, "McCandless & Company," a detective series written and created by "Cherokee" editor J.C. Vaughn. Gonzales will handle the art.

Gene Gonzales 
Gene Gonzales was born in the City of Angels (LA) and raised in beautiful downtown Burbank. Throughout his life he has demonstrated a desire to draw on just about any piece of paper he could get his hands on. In fifth grade he met someone who introduced him to the idea of drawing comic books.

pictograph divider



pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


Canku Ota logo


Canku Ota logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.