This version of the Legend of the Sleeping Giant is the first comic book/graphic novel adaptation of a legend that has had many tellings and many variations over many generations in the Thunder Bay area. Previously Fort William and Port Arthur, Thunder Bay is amassed and essentially founded on Aboriginal lore and legends and Crystal Fractal Comics is extremely pleased to have been selected by Anemki Mountain Corporation to prepare the first of its kind.
There are many stories of the Legend of the Sleeping Giant. The photo above is a picture from Kevin Belmore, a local Objibway artist, which tells the tale of Nanna Bijou who is cursed to become the sleeping giant when the silver stars he was protecting were trespassed upon.
The version of the legend is a little different, and is based on a telling by an Elder of the Fort William First Nation and is adapted by Dean Burns. There were some liberties taken in telling of this story between the Elder, the writer, and the artist.
Written by Jeff Haas, theouthousers.com
The Legend of the Sleeping Giant is a wonderfully realized comic inspired by the long oral tradition of Ojibway myth. As in all oral traditions, it is a story that was passed down from generation to generation, having long since surpassed any memory of its originator. This version of the tale was retold, per the comic’s introduction, by “an Elder of the Fort William First Nation”. How closely does it resemble the original myth? It is hard to say, but what is apparent is that great care was taken in its adaptation. The comic quickly brings to mind the old Classics illustrated comics of the past, and many of the myth-blending works of Neil Gaiman.
Like many myths of old, the tale of the Sleeping Giant is one of moral lessons. Enclosed in the overall moral tale are several smaller tales. But do not confuse this yarn for one that is heavy handed. Dean Burns includes plenty of action, humor and character to maintain your interest throughout the tale. The morals of this tale will not penetrate your thoughts through preaching, but more through osmosis. Upon reflection you may realize that there is something being said about pointlessness of warfare, especially when the quarrel that started the feud has long since been forgotten by all parties; even more so when the infighting blinds one to even more pressing threat just beyond the hill. There is also commentary regarding the difference between being at the fault and being responsible, and many more.
Much of the action involves a Sioux warrior named Conquering Wolf, who is given a mission of intrigue to infiltrate the Ojibway. The last six pages of the comic are exceptionally well-conceived. While your anger may still simmer towards Conquering Wolf and the damage that ends up happening as a result of his actions, you cannot help but feel bad for him at the same time.
A lot of this depth of feeling will be aroused by the great art of Mansjur Daman. This is because Daman is NOT drawing heroes, or legends, but PEOPLE. There is a realism to them. There is true sorrow in the defeated faces of the Ojibway as they realize their lives will be forfeit unless they reveal the location of the silver. Daman also makes sure to allow Wolf’s feature to evolve throughout the comic, from smug warrior to broken spirit. Helping as well is the coloring, which adds a pleasing visual mixture of realism while giving it a fantastic element through the vividness of color. My favorite page may be page five which is a splash page of the fight between Sioux and Ojibway.
Overall, great job by all. The story teaches a lot without slamming the reader over the head with forced lessons.
About the artist: Kevin Belmore
His acrylic renderings of traditional First Nations images incorporate clean lines, eye-popping color and an imaginative appreciation of the natural world. Kevin’s work incorporates images like hummingbirds, fish and bears, sacred legends and representations of families.
Kevin is also becoming known for his mural artwork and is available for commissioned images. His work can be seen in local offices like YES Employment Services, City Hall, Lakehead University and NNEC Post-Secondary Program. Kevin’s mural work is also prominently featured at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Toronto and has been used in the design of Pic Mobert First Nation’s website.