We head to the Big Island for KanakaCon, a comic book convention, or comic-con, with a Hawaiian twist.
You’ve probably heard of Comic-Cons where fans of fantasy, sci-fy, and comic books gather. Some dress up like superheroes and others line up to meet their favorite comic book creators. But KanakaCon is different.
Here’s Rae Kuruhara, a young Hawaiian comic book author.
“I think it’s rooted in this idea of the ʻōiwi edge – the idea that comics can be informed by our native Hawaiian stories,” says Kuruhara, “Which I think is something that has an avenue and outlet in other cons but its something that needs to be taught here and to grow here.”
Sixth graders at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi Island hosted the day-long KanakaCon at their Keaʻau campus.
“A lot of conventions are not always the most accommodating to our keiki,” says Kuruhara, “So for them to start thinking this early about representation to think you know the larger popular culture I think that’s what sets KanakaCon apart.”
Kids and kids at heart were invited to make masks and capes, compete in cosplay contests, and debate on whether superheroes make good role models.
DJ Keawekane is a local comic book author from Hilo. He hopes KanakaCon helps foster the next generation of comic book creators.
“For me when I was one kid we never have this stuff,” says Keawekane, “I was always drawing in school. I was getting in trouble for drawing in school.”
Now Keawekane creates comic book superheroes that look...local.
“Like Supersize Soles is the book that I’ve been working on and he’s this huge Samoan dude that can grow as big as he wants to,” says Keawekane.
So we decided to ask some sixth graders what’s your idea of a Hawaiian superhero?
MONTIZOR: I feel that Hawaiian superhero is not only resilient meaning they’d never give up but they are proud of who they are which as a Hawaiian because that’s what makes them very unique and strong in their own way.
MEDEIROS: They would believe Hawaiian beliefs and values.
RAPOZO: They should have a like a normal life but then when danger’s coming they should like get crazy.
Those are the voices of Cheizyn Montizor, Shyler Medeiros, and Kae-Lee Rapozo, who may all some day find themselves the stars of a future KanakaCon. Here’s Kuruhara again.
“And so what I hope happens and what I hope myself and others can teach here at KanakaCon is that idea of like you know your stories are relevant,” says Kuruhara, “If it’s in the form of comics, then that’s great. But if it’s not then that’s great as well. I think this can be just one example of ways that we as young kanaka ʻōiwi can express our ʻōiwi edge.”
Organizers hope this will be the first of many KanakaCons.