Thursday, March 18, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: Little Growling Bird in Windego Land
A.T. "Crite" Crichton wasn't generally known for trying to educate in his comic strip series (see Swapping Silas Comes to Town and The Giddy Goblins), but evidently Indian lore was a subject near and dear to his heart. His Little Growling Bird in Windego Land offers up a pretty serious primer on the Ojibwe Native American language and mythology. Was Crichton himself perhaps a member of the tribe or was this just a subject of interest to him?
The strip ran from June 10 1906 to August 25 1907 in the Philadelphia North American. Each episode is an eccentric mixture of standard comic strip fare and stories from Ojibwe mythology; the long, long captions make the journey from first panel to last a considerable trip -- if you stop to work through the pronunciation guides to some of the tongue-twisting words you might want to pack a lunch.
This was obviously a labor of love for Crichton, and it shows in both art and story. If you read the strip purely looking for a laugh you'll consider it a failed experiment, but if you are willing to meet Crite on his own terms it is a pretty impressive piece of work.
Coachwhip Publications obviously thinks a lot of the series -- they published a book of it, then made it available as a free PDF that you can download here. It's a huge file, so don't even think about tackling it if you're on dial-up.
Thanks to Cole Johnson and Steven Stwalley, each of whom provided one of the samples above.