Iron Circus Comics is a great independent press that's been kicking around since 2007. Founded by artist/writer C. Spike Trotman — creator of comics like Templar, Arizona and Smut Peddler — the company has lead a renaissance of diverse independent graphic novels by diverse artists. As the Chicago Tribune wrote in 2019:
Iron Circus raised more than $1 million over its first 14 Kickstarter campaigns from a market that Trotman was told didn't exist: fans interested in comic books that weren't made by white heterosexual men and featuring superheroes.
"When I was getting into comics, there was absolutely no room for people like me — people of color who wanted to tell their own stories, or women who wanted to tell their own stories," said 39-year-old Trotman. "Comics had a very firm idea of what would sell or what qualified as niche. Anything a white, heterosexual man would make would be interpreted to having universal appeal, but anything I would make would automatically be classified as difficult to relate to or niche."
Their next Kickstarted project looks exceptionally cool — a comic book anthology called The Woman and the Woods and Other North American Stories, the fifth installment in the publisher's Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales series chronicling folklore from the world. Here's the setup for this latest volume:
The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories is an all-new anthology of fantastic comics inspired by original North American folktales―from the thrilling tale of Chokfi the trickster rabbit, to the stirring story of the White Horse Plains― as told by Indigenous creators.
The book features more than 100 pages of entertaining and educational stories by artists and writers from Indigenous nations across the continent.
An $8 pledge will get you the eBook (with an estimated delivery of April 2022), and $20 will get you a print copy. There are other, fancier supporter tiers as well, of course, including some options to get some of Iron Circus's other folklore anthology books.
Here are some of the artists involved:
Mercedes Acosta is a Cuban Taíno artist and storyteller who, as a child, was always warned to stay away from trees at night. She loves eerie and joyful things. Mercedes lives in the tropics of southern Florida with her Papí.
Milo Applejohn is an autistic illustrator of Métis and settler ancestry who resides in the unceded traditional territories of the səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.
Jordaan Arledge is a trans, Chickasaw comic writer and founder of Arledge Comics. Jordaan's credits span from the award-winning ALEX PRIEST series to all-ages titles like FUTURE GIRL. They graduated from Central Washington University with degrees in English – focusing in British literature – and in philosophy – specializing in religious studies and focusing in pre-Christian literature. When they're not reading or creating comic books, Jordaan can be found at your local comic book convention talking about indie press and queer representation in comics.
Elijah Forbes (he/him) is a transgender Odawa illustrator who primarily works in the fields of graphic novels and children's literature. He has facilitated the creation of illustration projects such as the 2020 "Trans Awareness Week" through Twitter, as well as projects benefiting transgender rights groups, such as Sunshine House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He seeks to create work that uplifts people of transgender and Indigenous backgrounds.
Rhael McGregor is a Non-Binary/Two-Spirit Métis comic artist and animator from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They work primarily in writing LGBTQ2S+ imaginings of fantasy/sci-fi stories in hopes of making the world a little brighter!
Mekala Nava is a reconnecting Chicana designer/illustrator with a passion for storytelling. She likes to incorporate folktales, myths, legends, and history into her work and hopes to move into the realm of graphic novels. Mekala graduated from Cornish College of the arts with a degree in Visual Communications and a focus in animation and motion design. She likes to focus on the "human-ness" of storytelling and how it has inspired and connected people throughout our history.
Maija Ambrose Plamondon is a Métis writer currently living on treaty 6 territory. They spend their time writing music, comics, and being bad at rhythm games. Their current comics projects are two webcomics; one called Mystery Solving Lesbians which surprisingly is about two lesbians solving mysteries, and the other called Coming of Age.
Alice RL is a professional Illustrator and Art Teacher based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The non-binary, Ojibawe artist draws inspiration from their experiences and cultural teachings and melds it with a signature palette of bright, playful hues to create stunning juxtapositions of human brutality and emotion with hope and whimsy. Alice's range of projects include game and comic book art, digital and traditional illustration, and graphic design. Alice is a Graduate of the University of Manitoba Fine Arts Program and Digital Media Design at Red River College. Alice is deeply involved in the local art community and strives to improve themselves and others. Whether working in digital or traditional art, Alice brings a unique personal style and emotional impact into all their creations.
Izzy Roberts is a Michigan-based illustrator and a member of the Navajo Nation and Kinyaa'áanii clan. They spend much of their time writing and illustrating comics or attending conventions around the Midwest. Most days they can be found working at home with their rescue dog, Pickles, close by their side. Armed with a love of seductive horror and a commitment to creating more Native representation in visual mediums, Izzy is a highly dedicated artist with a passion for storytelling.
Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: North America [Iron Circus Comics / Kickstarter]