Lee Francis is the founder, CEO and publisher of Indigenous pop culture company Native Realities (nativerealities.com), an exciting distro platform and the minds behind a don't-miss upcoming show at Form & Concept titled Native Realities: Superheroes of Past, Present and Future (Opening: 5-7 pm Friday Nov. 11. 435 S Guadalupe St., 982-8111). Obviously we had to learn more.
What is Native Realities, exactly?
We're a Native-centric pop culture company. We put out comics and graphic novels; some board game kind of things and we're working on some video game type stuff. Our thing is we're not just relative to the past-tense. We draw from our history—but it's not peddling Natives on horseback, it's more like asking what's the reality of being Native now and in the future.
It seems like a good time for that, with the mainstream-ification of comics properties.
If you look back over the history of comics, it was about fantastic worlds that could only be told through pictures. Well, pictures and words. It's this true American artform, and we need more diverse books; we need more people of color in and making comic books.
It also seems like people expect certain things from Native artists. So is it difficult for such a non-traditional Native art form to be taken seriously?
One of the main reasons we're doing this is to demonstrate to society that Native art doesn't have to be beadwork of thunderbirds of whatever. Of course it can have those elements and those aspects, but with comics and art like this, it really doesn't need to rely on them. I think it's been so constraining, but there are ways that we can establish a new norm, so like, instead of a bow and arrow you can have lasers.