First Indigenous comic book convention a success

SkasdiCon, hosted by the Cherokee Nation, was well attended this past Saturday

The Cherokee Nation celebrated an Indigenous perspective on comic books and related media with its first ever comic book convention: SkasdiCon. Before the pandemic, I would attend comic book conventions outside of reservation boundaries, so while there were lots of different twists on video game and comic characters, I was one of few people who showed up with an Indigenous twist on my own cosplays. I am glad there was a convention on my home turf hosted by my tribe.

The word “Sgasdi” is a slang term in the Cherokee language with no English equivalent, typically used to tease someone who thinks they’re “all that.” I have used it to describe someone who is mean. Yet, according to the SkasdiCon official website, “[Sgasdi] evokes pride, awesomeness, and fierceness – all traits that describe characters from video games and comic books.” Admittedly, I laughed when I read their translation, but most Cherokee words are used differently depending on how someone learns them.

SkasdiCon welcomed over 30 Indigenous artists and creators, featuring a screening of “Inage’i,” a children’s Cherokee language animation, and a cosplay competition. There was also a panel on how to do Native cosplay, which I immediately thought “Pfft, I do that all the time.” Only it’s usually just with clothes from my closet and the occasional beaded medallion. The panel was well attended, with cosplays that had their own Indigenous twists on beloved characters as well as the reaffirmation that even just being a Native person in cosplay is also Native Cosplay. SkasdiCon was also excited to welcome Nathalie Standingcloud, a Cherokee artist who currently works as a tattoo artist at Inkjunkys in Tulsa and an actress in “Reservation Dogs.” Standingcloud was one of the artists showcasing and selling art at SkasdiCon in the main hall, which was located inside the ballroom at Northeastern State University.

SkasdiCon was hosted on NSU’s main campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma on Saturday Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event was hosted by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism with the NSU Center for Tribal Studies, as well as Cherokee National Treasure artist Roy Boney Jr. While I have my own mixed emotions on tourism, SkasdiCon did have a great turnout of tourists from outside of the Cherokee Nation as well as people from across the reservation. A good chunk of the event seemed to fall more on Boney’s shoulders. His art is featured on the official SkasdiCon website, and he has actually created cover art for “Marvel’s Voices: Heritage” series. His extensive career in art as well as his status as a language preservationist and National Treasure elevate him in regards to this event.

All in all, I was glad that SkasdiCon happened, and I hope that the Cherokee Nation can continue to host events such as this as well as others in a similar vein. As a Native who is a nerd and artist, I think an event such as this would benefit tribal citizens regardless of age who are looking to see themselves represented in local and global media. One drawback to SkasdiCon is it was a one-day event. I hope that in the future, SkasdiCon can last an entire weekend.

Post Author: Isaiah Baldridge