Wonderland Grande Prairie is one of only three places in Canada where a unique Marvel comic drawn by a Whitefish Lake First Nation artist can be bought. The variant of Marvel Comics’ Indigenous Voices #1 featuring Kyle Charles’ cover art is only available in Grande Prairie, Edmonton, and Prince George.
Wonderland owner and CEO Vince Joyall was in touch with Marvel after discovering his personal friend was picked to illustrate a 10-page story for the chapter. He visited the local toy and hobby store Saturday to sign copies of Indigenous Voices #1 at Wonderland.
Charles says illustrating for Marvel has been a lifelong dream, but when he initially got the email asking him to work on the comic, he thought it was a prank.
“I was just chilling out on my couch and had my phone ping saying, ‘Draw a Marvel story.’ I didn’t believe it when I read it, someone’s trying to mess with me. I opened it up… read it over and over again and [thought], ‘this can’t be real.’ I recognized the [signed] name and it was an editor I know and [realized] this [was] real.”
Realizing the legitimacy of the email, he immediately agreed then called his family to share the news. Charles says he’s been drawing professionally since 2013 but has had a passion for art for much longer.
“I’ve been working towards this my whole entire life and finally got to the big leagues. [I’m] happy to be here,” he says.
Charles adds he got the email in August, followed by the script in mid-September. After first developing the characters and locations within the story, he says he was given 10 days at the beginning of October to complete the illustrations.
“It’s really hard to tell a concise story in 10 pages, to go from the beginning, middle, [to] end and do it in a way that’s not so obvious,” he says. “We were really up against the wall with it but we got it done; it was around-the-clock but I’m so happy with the final product.”
Marvel’s Indigenous Voices #1 contains three stories of Indigenous superheroes, as well as a preface which were written, drawn, inked, and coloured by Indigenous talent from across North America.
Joyall refers to the reality that Marvel wanted to assemble a comic from Indigenous talent, writers, artists, and characters, as phenomenal, historic, and a dream come true. He adds his relationship with Charles began when the artist was brought into Wonderland’s sister store, WonderHarbour, off the streets of Edmonton.
“Kyle Charles has been a friend of WonderHarbour… for many years. Kyle was living on the streets and my manager brought him in, gave him a place to stay so that he wouldn’t be cold and on the streets.”
When the comic book was to hit the printer, Joyall ordered 3,000 copies of Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices, the minimum order for one specifically with Charles’ cover. Joyall was at first skeptical of ordering that many copies, until more than 1,400 copies sold in the first three days.
“We don’t have many left and I’m making sure that I’ve stored a bunch away because I want to make sure that schools and native friendship centers get copies,” says Joyall. “It blows my mind that there’s a comic book with Marvel’s logo and Wonderland’s logo on the same book. It’s wild.”