Edmonton comic book illustrator recruited for Marvel’s Indigenous artist series

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Edmonton comic book illustrator recruited for Marvel’s Indigenous artist series
The work of Edmonton illustrator Kyle Charles will be featured in an upcoming Marvel comic. As Morgan Black explains, he's working to help more upcoming artists in Edmonton get similar opportunities – Nov 13, 2020

An Edmonton comic book illustrator is joining the Marvel team to illustrate part of a new anthology.

Kyle Charles received an email from Marvel Comics in August, asking if he would be a part of Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices Volume 1.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Usually you have to fight to get in to Marvel. You have a lot to prove. For them to come to me… it was unexpected.”

For the anthology, Charles worked on the story of Danielle “Dani” Moonstar and drew a brand new Indigenous mutant for the X-Men series.

“Dani Moonstar is an Indigenous female mutant,” he said. “She’s got wicked powers. She’s part of the New Mutants, that was really punk rock back in the 80s.”

Kyle Charles drawing in his studio. Courtesy: Kyle Charles

Charles said the experience was a whirlwind.

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“It was really intense. I drew 10 pages in 10 days straight, which is round the clock. But it was a lot of fun,” he said.

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“This is what you work towards your whole life when you’re on this path, so it was a joy.”

The original drawing of Kyle Charles’ limited edition cover of Marvel Voice’s: Indigenous Voices.

Charles, an acclaimed artist from Whitefish Lake First Nation, has worked as an illustrator since 2013.

“I’ve been drawing since I was three years old,” he said. “I loved drawing Marvel, Spiderman… X-Men. I could disappear in a room and have my head down in a notepad scratching away.”

A few years ago, Charles quit another illustrator job to focus entirely on Indigenous content.

“I decided to go on my own path. I had the idea that I was going to do this until Marvel comes to me. I thought it was going to take five to 10 years,” he said. “They reached out to me in a year and a half, asking me to work for them.”

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Charles worked with writer Darcie Little Badger and colourist Rachelle Rosenberg on his story. He said it’s been meaningful to work alongside other Indigenous creators on the anthology.

“When you have a company owned and operated by Disney and recognized internationally… it’s putting us in the spotlight,” he said.

“(It’s) letting us tell our own stories and I think that’s incredibly important.”

Charles worked hard to fit the project into an already busy schedule. He will soon launch his own project — “Unregistered Studios” — at WonderHarbour Comics, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of Indigenous creators.

“It’s specifically made to be a comic book imprint (opening under the umbrella of another comic company), which focuses entirely on publishing stories by Indigenous creators,” he said.

The finished version of Kyle Charles’ limited edition cover of Marvel Voice’s: Indigenous Voices. Courtesy: Vincent Joyall

The artist said the outreach and volunteer work he has done with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students makes him extremely proud.

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“I can tell them I’ve done it. I’ve come from a background of poverty, being in the inner-city. I worked my butt off and I got here,” Charles said.

“If I can do it, you can absolutely do it as well. That’s the most important message.”

Marvel’s Indigenous Voices Volume 1 is available in store at WonderHarbour Comics on Nov. 18.

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