When Theo Tso was a child, his parents were called back to the Creator. Both Theo and his younger brother were taken in and raised by his aunt and uncle. In many respects, his origin story mirrors that of our favorite web-slinging superhero, Spiderman, who lost his parents at a young age and was also raised by his aunt and uncle. But Theo didn’t develop a spidey-sense, the ability to sling webs nor does he fight crime while dressed in red and blue spandex.
No. Theo developed a very different power and skill set.
As far back as he can remember, Theo loved to draw and his main source of inspiration came from cartoons and comic books. As he grew older and began to study the artistic style of comic book artists more closely, it fueled his love of comics as well as his desire to create comics.
“That began the spark and I began trying to hone my craft into a style that would get me noticed by the major comic book companies.”, said Theo. “Eventually, I got up the nerve to submit some of my pencil samples to the big comic book publishers. I mailed several packets of samples but I was rejected by all of them, even the smaller independent publishers.”
It was during this time that Theo also noticed something very troubling with the comic books that he loved. There were no Native superheroes in starring roles and what Native superheroes existed were rooted in racist stereotypes. Being the aspiring comic book artist that he was, Theo began developing a Native superhero that Natives could call their own. He wanted to create a superhero that that they could relate to and who understood the issues that they see daily on their reservations. He wanted to create a superhero that would protect and fight for Native people.
“I saw that there was a need for a superhero that was Native American, who would deal with Native issues coming on and off the various reservations of the southwest.”
Thus, Captain Paiute was born.
But after bringing his creation into being, Theo put him away for “a rainy day” as he continued his quest to draw and work for major comic houses, like DC and Marvel. As chance would have it, one of Theo’s friends attended the San Diego Comic Con and returned with a flyer from someone who was looking for a comic book artist to collaborate with. After submitting several samples of his work, Theo was given the opportunity to work on the debut issues of a few comic books from Blue Corn Comics. He penciled the debut issues for Masked Men and Peace Party. His artwork was also published in Phil Yea’s Winged Tiger series.
It was while working on Peace Party that Theo decided that it was time to give Captain Paiute another go. So, he started working on updating and further developing the story and adventures of Captain Paiute: Indigenous Defender of the Southwest.
While working on his comic and art, Theo met a fellow Native at the San Diego Comic Con, who was interested in creating a publishing company for Native illustrators. It was from this chance encounter that INC or the Indigenous Narratives Collective was created and earlier this year, Captain Paiute finally made his comic book debut.
Issue #1 of Captain Paiute: Indigenous Defender of the Southwest is now available in a great collector’s bundle. For $25.00, you get the comic, an 11×15 full color poster, a vinyl sticker AND an original hand drawn sketch. For information on how you can get your copy of Captain Paiute, visit War Paint Studios on Facebook.
Listen to Theo Tso discuss his comic further as well his views on cultural appropriation and indigenerdity on the A Tribe Called Geek radio show.