The Red Planet Books and Comics store held its grand opening June 3rd and in the less than one month since its opening, Lee Francis is confident he has fulfilled a much needed niche in the Albuquerque area.
“We are absolutely and completely unique in what we try to accomplish. We offer new comics and and new books, but we’re really focusing on Indigenous people.”
“There is no other store like Red Planet Books and Comics in the world as far as I know. We want to look at the whole distribution line. We know is this kind of stuff is very niche and is not going to be put on the front shelves at Barnes and Noble.”
One Indigenous comic artist is Arigon Starr (Kickapoo). “I am so excited for Lee, but ever more excited for the community. It’s a place for us to hang out and talk about comic books and talk about different projects we want to do and talk about us being contemporary natives and how we want to see ourselves reflected in the comic book world.”
“I’m glad Red Planet Books and Comics is in Albuquerque. This is like landing on the moon; A giant leap for Indian kind, or indignerd kind!”
Francis told ICMN he is excited to have his comic store in a location that he feels is an under-served Native population thirsty for self representation.
“Albuquerque is a place where we are 10 to 15 percent of the population. We should have a bookstore where that 10 or 15 percent can be like, ‘oh I’d like to find this or I’d like to look at this.’”
Francis’ father Dr. Lee Francis III was the chair of Native studies at the University of New Mexico and a founder of the Wordcraft Circle of Native writers. The younger Francis took over running the organization when his father passed in 2003.
“Red Planet Books and Comics is the extension of that work. The mission of Wordcraft Circle was to ensure voices of native writers and storytellers, past, present, and future, were heard throughout the world.”
Red Planet also houses a publishing and distribution house called Native Realities behind the scenes. The Red Planet Books and Comics storefront is to be filled with comics, workshops and activities.
Francis said this is by design. “This is a really cool place where we can hang out and have an office. I don’t want to go into a cubicle, I want to walk into a comic shop. That’s where I want to live."