Some thoughts on PEACE PARTY's feasibility: an analysis for the PEACE PARTY Grant Proposal:
Market for Native products
Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas have proved that Native stories told in a popular format can "speak" to an audience, receive critical acclaim, and earn a profit. The market for Native-themed products is only growing. It should continue to grow as the Native population grows and as people become more ecologically, spiritually, and ethically minded. These are all values embodied in Native cultures and products.
American Indians on the rise
Some 4.1 million Americans said they were at least part American Indian, more than double the 1990 figure, and 2.5 million identified themselves only as American Indian, a 26 percent increase. Both alone and in combination with another race, American Indian figures "are rising beyond anything that can be explained by birthrate," says Gabrielle Tayac, a sociologist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian.
Experts and tribal officials cite several reasons for the jump: Soaring casino revenues and benefits from affirmative action and minority status, enticing more tribal enrollees; a growing interest in genealogy, spurred largely by the Internet; and an erosion of the American Indian stigma.
"It's cool to be an American Indian now," says Cherokee spokesman Mike Miller, who has watched his tribe more than double to 230,000 members over the past decade, rivaling the Navajos as the country's largest tribe.
See also Multiculturalism Sells! for evidence that multicultural products appeal to today's diverse audience.
Market for fantasy fiction
Broadly defined, the market for fantasy fiction is huge. It extends far beyond children and young adults to include literate adults of all types. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and Anne Rice are just a few of the names who have hit it big marketing their imagination. Fantasy properties that have sold billions of dollars' worth of merchandise include Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman, Batman, the X-Men, the X-Files, the Simpsons, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Xena the Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and on and on.
The market for fantasy fiction featuring minorities is much less established, but there are positive signs. Stars such as Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Janet Jackson, Ricky Martin, Jackie Chan, and Jennifer Lopez can sell their products almost at will. If we limit ourselves to Native American works, the Pocahontas movie generated several hundred million dollars, Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries are perennial bestsellers, and authors like Sherman Alexie are doing well in literary circles.
Other products also suggest people are seeking alternatives to Western-style mass consumption. In other words, they're trying to connect or reconnect with their "Native" side. In a sense, one could call these "fantasy" products just like a Harry Potter book or Pocahontas video:
Note: We're not saying PEACE PARTY should or will emulate these products. But their existence suggests people are hungering for something other than what they have.
Market for Native comics
Even in the specific field of comic books featuring Native Americans, the evidence is promising:
PEACE PARTY prognosis
PEACE PARTY hasn't been that successful yet, but the concept has proved its merit. When people see and read the comics, the most common response is "impressive." Those who bought the first two issues are clamoring for more.
PEACE PARTY has earned positive reviews and coverage in the Los Angeles Times, the Gannett News Service, the Colorado Springs Gazette, Indian Country Today, the San Antonio Current, Aboriginal Voices, the Oklahoma Indian Times, the Navajo-Hopi Observer, and many other publications and online venues. Educators, parents, and readers have expressed their enthusisam. Some quotes suggest the impact PEACE PARTY has had and the impact the more substantial graphic novel will have:
Beyond individual reactions, signs of success include:
All of the above suggests the viability of a PEACE PARTY comic book or graphic novel.
Why write about Native Americans?
Culture and Comics Need Multicultural Perspective 2000
The future of comics
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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
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