As a kid, David Alexander Robertson felt detached from his Swampy Cree heritage. But as the Winnipeg writer-educator grew older, he felt more of a need to connect with his culture. Hoping to instill the same desire for connection in younger generations, Robertson began writing YA graphic novels that draw on Cree mythology and history.
Robertson first gained attention with his 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga series (Scott B. Henderson, illus., Highwater Press), which follows multiple generations of a Plains Cree family from the 19th century to present day. He followed with Tales from Big Spirit, a six-book series showcasing indigenous Canadian heroes such as poet Pauline Johnson (right).
Robertson, a poet, TV scriptwriter, and novelist (Evolution of Alice), believes that graphica is one of the “most effective ways of storytelling.” The visual form is becoming popular for a growing number of aboriginal writers, many of whom are represented in the Mazinbiige Indigenous Graphic Novel Collection at the University of Manitoba’s Elizabeth Dafoe Library. Launched in 2013, the 200-book collection is the first of its kind in Canada, documenting the history of aboriginal comics imagery.