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Rabbit and Bear Paws:
An Interview With Creator Chad Solomon

Chad Solomon is the First Nations writer and artist of the new graphic novel / comic series, Rabbit and Bear Paws. And he was nice enough to sit down with me (through the wonder of internet chat) to talk about this fresh new project.

CitC- Scott Tingley : Hello Chad

Chad Solomon : Hey Scott, how are you?

CitC : Good, and thanks for speaking with me. You must feel good now that your book, Rabbit and Bear Paws is finally published.

C.S : Yes, we are all VERY excited to finally have the graphic novel, Adventure of Rabbit and Bear Paws ready for our fans.

CitC : Tell us a bit about Rabbit and Bear Paws ? What is it about? Who worked on it? How long did it take from start to finish?

C.S.: Rabbit and Bear Paws is set in 18th Century colonized North America . We follow the story of two mischievous Ojibwa brothers as they play pranks and have amazing adventures using a traditional Ojibwa medicine that transforms them into animals for a short time. All our stories are based on the Seven Grandfathers , the wisdom of the Anishinabek community.

I started to develop this project about 5+ years ago, committed myself to it and learned what was needed to create something that would be respectful yet funny at the same time. Along the way I have had a lot of help, from my Elders and production family, co-writer Christopher Meyer and co-artist Julie Pickering. These are the very talented people that help bring these stories to life. We self publish our humorous adventures under the company name Little Spirit Bear Productions.

Where did the idea for this come from?

C.S.: The ideas came from Traditional stories that reflect the unity of the Aboriginal community. Rabbit and Bear Paws is based upon the traditional stories my grandfather shared with us. There are legends that tell of Nanaboozhoo , who was a Big Man, a giant. The Big guy and small friend are a classic comedy duo, and the idea just grew from there.

CitC : Ha. I honestly didn't pick up on that. It's obvious now

 C.S.: Bear paws is a Little Giant of 10 years old

 CitC: The big guy as foil for the little guy.

C.S.: Lol. Something like that. All these stories are based on the Seven Grandfathers.  The Seven Grandfathers are virtues we all live by, such as Love, Wisdom, Respect, Humility, Courage, Honesty and Truth.  I REALLY needed to create a book that shares with the Universal audience, a better understanding of what native people are really about.  Not just warriors or the side kick that most non-aboriginal artists and writers create when they are writing about Native people in pop culture stories.

 CitC : I think you were successful in that, but what has the reaction
to it been so far in and out of the Aboriginal community?

C.S.: The reaction so far has been very positive so far from the aboriginal community as well from non-aboriginal. We have an endorsement from the Grand Council Chief of the 42 Communities of the Anishinabek Nation on the back cover of our book. We are very proud of that.

CitC: The web comic version has been up for quite a while. What was the feedback like from your community?

C.S.: We currently have an online audience of 2 million enjoying our stories each month and are currently featured on all the top aboriginal websites e.g. www.saymag.com , www.ayn.ca , www.nativeyouthmagazine.com and www.nativevillage.org .

CitC: That is terrific. Is that support beginning to show up in sales?

C.S.: I would say yes. We have currently sold 8000 copies and climbing!

 CitC: That seems to be pretty good sales for an independent project especially an indie project aimed at younger readers.  It really hasn't been out that long. Rabbit and Bear Paws is going to be sold through Scholastic Canada in their book clubs and book fairs. Any idea when this will begin?

C.S.: Our book will be on sale through Scholastic Canada's educational catalogue in January 2007 and will be available through their Book Fairs and Book Club Program in the spring.

We have signed a NON-exclusive deal with Scholastic Canada. Our Scholastic deal means that as publishers we can also sell directly to teachers, school boards and school libraries.

CitC : Be sure to keep us updated on that Scholastic stuff. I assume you would like to be distributed to comic shops through Diamond (the people that put all the comics in the comic shops). Any news on that?

C.S.: We have submitted the book for inclusion in the Diamond Distribution Catalogue. We look forward to a positive result there.

 CitC: It sounds like you have good enough sales to make Diamond happy.

Will we be seeing any more adventures of these characters , or do you have another project you are working on?

C.S.: Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws: The Sugar Bush is the first of seven graphic novels in the series and we are already in production on the next book.  Each book will be based on a different Grandfather and all stories will reflect the unity of the Aboriginal community.   Here is a little sneak peek into the future of Rabbit and Bear Paws: our next book will based on the Grandfather
" Bravery - Aakdehewin " and the adventures of the fur trade.

CitC: Great. Is this a "road trip" for Rabbit and Bear Paws?

C.S.: You bet, but if I tell you any more the boss will get upset. Lol.  We started the new book in web comic forum on our website at www.rabbitandbearpaws.com

CitC: I'll be sure to check that out.

C.S.: Please do, I can not wait to share this week's comic strip. What we have lined up for the second book based on the Grandfather Bravery is one amazing story.

CitC: Thanks for everything Chad . I appreciate the time. Please keep us updated on any developments.

C.S.: You bet. I have been following your great website since I first heard about it last year and I am very honoured to be interviewed by someone who cares about graphic novels and what the kids are reading today. Thanks again!

October 15, 2006

Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com


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