Two New Indigenous Graphic Novels for Teens that Hit Close to Home

Leaves aren’t the only things dropping this season! Two highly anticipated young adult graphic novels are making their way down the pipeline this fall. Both releases will capture the attention of teens and adults alike by shedding light on resonant, real-life issues with stories told through the eyes of complex Indigenous protagonists.

Taking off from where David A. Robertson’s popular The Reckoner trilogy left off, Breakdown, acts as a fourth instalment to the series in the form of a graphic novel. Fans of The Reckoner will get to see Cole, Eva, and other returning characters portrayed with striking illustrations by Scott B. Henderson and vibrant colours by Donovan Yaciuk.

Also on the horizon, From the Roots Up is the long-awaited sequel to Surviving the City and part of Tasha Spillett’s Surviving the City series. Illustrated by Natasha Donovan, the graphic novel follows a group of young people as they struggle with love, loss, belonging, identity, and sexuality.

The Reckoner Rises

In what promises to be a thrilling new graphic novel series, the first volume of The Reckoner Rises, Breakdown, starts where the last book of Robertson’s trilogy, Ghosts, left off. Mentally and physically reeling from the events at Wounded Sky, Cole Harper struggles to gain control of his mental health. 

Meanwhile, Eva works overtime to coordinate the assault on Mihko Laboratories while keeping an eye on Cole. Strange forces seem to be working against them, but Eva knows Cole and the rest of The Bloodhound Gang need her strength now more than ever.

Breakdown addresses the complexities of managing mental illness when life doesn’t wait for you. Set in Winnipeg, the graphic novel explores another way to be a hero, even in the face of anxiety and trauma.

With Robertson’s dynamic storytelling and Henderson and Yaciuk’s captivating, full-colour artwork, Breakdown brings this story of struggle, hope, and survival to life in a new, immersive medium. Get a peek behind the scenes below.


Surviving the City

Speaking of survival, Dez and Miikwan are back in the second instalment of the Surviving the City series, From the Roots Up. The new volume centres around the best friends in the aftermath of a tragedy that has changed the course of Dez’s life. Meanwhile, Dez struggles with a secret that only one other person knows—and it’s starting to weigh on them both.

Thankfully, all is not lost for the resilient teens. Love is all around them, both in the flesh and in spirit. Dez treads carefully as she navigates high school romance, while a mysterious new student has caught Miikwan’s eye. Could this newcomer be the catalyst to something bigger?

In From the Roots Up, as in Surviving the City, Spillett approaches tough, relatable topics for teens with compassion and without judgment. As the characters seek to find their paths through grief, tradition, and their own truths, Dez and Miikwan learn how much power they really have to create positive change for their communities.

“As a high school social studies and English teacher, I saw the power of graphic novels and comics in working with young people and in helping them to express themselves.”
–Tasha Spillett

About the Authors

David A. Robertson (he, him, his) is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and the award-winning author of books like When We Were Alone (winner Governor General’s Literary Award), Will I See? (winner Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award), Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story (listed In The Margins), and The Reckoner trilogy (winner Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction, McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People). David’s lived experiences with anxiety disorder informed many of his creative decisions while writing the character of Cole Harper. David has written, reflected, and spoken at length about contemporary issues experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada. He currently lives in Winnipeg.

Tasha Spillett (she/her/hers) is a celebrated educator, poet, and emerging scholar who draws her strength from both her Nehiyaw and Trinidadian bloodlines. Throughout her career, she has focused much of her work and writing in service of land and water defence, as well as the protection of Indigenous women and girls. Tasha is currently working on her PhD in Education through the University of Saskatchewan, where she holds a Vanier Canada Award.

About the Artists

Scott B. Henderson (he/him/his) is an author/illustrator and creator of sci-fi/fantasy comic The Chronicles of Era. He has also created art for many other books and graphic novels, including the Canadian Air Force’s For Valour series, the Tales From Big Spirit series, the 7 Generations series, the A Girl Called Echo series, select stories in This Place: 150 Years Retold, Fire Starters, and the Eisner-award nominated book A Blanket of Butterflies.  In 2016, he was the recipient of the C4 Central Canada Comic Con Storyteller Award.

Donovan Yaciuk (he/him/his) is a master of the art of colouring for comics and graphic novels and has contributed work to Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and HighWater Press titles including the A Girl Called Echo series and This Place: 150 Years Retold. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with his wife and daughter.

Natasha Donovan (she/her/hers) is a Métis illustrator originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her sequential work has been published in This Place: 150 Years Retold, and the Wonder Women of History anthology. She is the illustrator of the award-winning graphic novel Surviving the City, as well as the award-winning Mothers of Xsan children’s book series, and the forthcoming picture book biography Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer. She lives by the Nooksack River in Washington State.

Catch Up with Your Favourite Heroes!

Breakdown and From the Roots Up are both slated for release on October 27, 2020. Pre-order your copies today and be among the first to find out whether Cole and Eva defeat Mihko Labs once and for all, and what this school year has in store for Dez and Miikwan!

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