News & Comments
As you've seen, I've made my choice. Let's recapitulate!
I had started an arc I wanted to do for a while now, depicting a sacred Native American ceremony (specifically Lakota style): the sweat lodge. This is from a desire to share things I've lived myself with my characters, and through them, with my readers. This has always been the point of GGaR. The comic is over 7 years, it's followed me through a lot. It is not "odd" of me to choose this subject, as it has always been how I chose my subjects: my desire to share something I find important, because it gave me a chance to grow up and learn.
The mistake I have made is this: once I understood the implications in doing this incredibly sensitive subject (which was two strips in), I chose to go ahead with my usual webcomic updates rather than holding back and taking the time to research appropriately, as the topic requires it. As such, the next comic strip that had updated was incorrect (and it is replaced by this one here!) This is something I take as an important lesson, and will avoid doing so ever again.
Now let us get into the meaty part: why I chose to go with this.
It is my belief that it is worth doing this. For myself, as a growing artist. For readers who are genuinely interested. For those who enjoy seeing their culture represented in a respectful way. For the belief that traditions are made to breathe and be accessible to anyone who truly needs them, as long as they are respected as sacred and not used to exploit and manipulate others with.
For those who don't believe me, and/or who don't accept this choice: I have made this decision after days of thoughts, after reading most comments, after answering all emails sent my way from Native American readers (thank you so much!), after reviewing the scenario like I've never reviewed my scenarios before... I am doing this in all consciousness. If you attack me still, you will not find justifications on my end. Not more than what I give you now.
As for the scenario of this arc: I have revised the script for several hours with the person who's helping me on this. I am incredibly grateful for his patience and his will to help me, I wouldn't have gone on with this idea if it wasn't for his knowledge. He may not be Lakota (I will stop saying "Lakota-friend" because some thought he was Native American, my apologies for not being clearer on something that may seem willingly manipulative on my part), he has however been following, joining and approved by a tribe under the Lakota tradition for over a decade, and his experience on the matter is undeniable.
Of course, you can't go to him and see for yourself if what I say is true. However, you may review this arc with someone you know that is experienced in Lakota style sweat lodge, and ask the person if it is correct. Our work and effort on this arc is made to answer the question for itself.
As I've mentioned before, apart from the occasional Lakota words and songs, I avoid using terms like "Inipi", "Chanunpa", "Medecine Man" etc, to stay humble in my representation.
My goal is not to take something and changing it for my entertainment (as "us guys" tend to do). But to pay hommage to something I've found beautiful and worth sharing.
And if you truly think I do this so as to add an "exotic" look to my comic, and bring in more readers because "mystical journey"... Boobs are very mystical, and bring in much more readers. If I wanted to bring in dollars, fame and gals, well... I'm not being very smart about it, am I?
I will conclude by letting you know that there will be commentaries below most strips, though not as long as these past ones, don't worry. There will be specifications on the ceremony, in case the comic does not show it in its fullest, or if it's just a good thing to know (some encouraged by the man helping me with this).
I would also like to give you the heads up that the two previous updates will be taken out of the arc (for easier reading purposes), but will be saved in another link that I will give as soon as they are moved there. This whole thing will remain transparent and accessible (all comments included).
Thank you to all who have shared their thoughts on this, and more so to the ones doing so with courtesy.
Please remain respectful to all in the comments section.
No one is better than the other.