The story of a cursed Comanche Indian named Tosahwi Stormwind who is trapped inside the body of a buffalo. Placed there by a rival Arapahoe named Eknath, Tosahwi will eventually be conscripted into the United States Army against his will. The current issues take place in the Utah Territory (Colorado) in the mid-1850s.
Genre: Supernatural Western
Publisher: Insane Comics
Creator: Steve Benton
Writer: Steve Benton
Pencils: Steve Benton
Inks: Bugs Benton
Colors: Bugs Bunny
Letters: Bugs Bunny
That we wouldn't know from reading the synposis.
This is a tale about a cursed Comanche Indian named Tosahwi Stormwind who's trapped inside the body of a buffalo because of an Arapahoe named Eknath. Eknath and he were in love with the same woman. Sort of a 'West' side story thing, where Nita Five Moons wasn't supposed to be hanging around with Tosawhi at all. Eknath (the shaman's grand-son) took exception to Nita getting too close so he brought forth a herd of 'magic' buffalo to trample the young lovers. We don't yet know how Eknath has amassed such great power, but he's irresponsible with it, and just learning how to use it. He kills Nita accidentally, which gets him exiled from his own tribe. He finds out that Tosahwi somehow survived, so now he's bring down the hammer. He's going to open a 'medicine wheel' to basically unleash all the mythological creatures he's heard about in the legends told by his tribe. First though he wants to destroy the US Army soldiers at Fort McMenemy. Tosahwi, from being fused to a buffalo calf, has now starting to regain his human senses and recognizes the creatures Eknath is pulling into the physical plane. We've yet to see if he'll help the Settlers, or let Eknath destroy them. That's what American Bison is about.
Why is it interesting to you as a creator?
Initially it was going to be a sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle type story with just talking animals, where the buffalo wreaks havoc on the humans. I had created the character in 2009 in Adobe Illustrator and it just sat there. My thinking was that I need to merge an animal + a warrior class and a distinctive look with a specific time period. American Bison was born as Buffalo Ninja Union Soldier. It was just a mash up. In the original image he looked quite docile, so I thought he'd be sympathetic to the North; which was also a play on the whole 'buffalo soldier' aspect. Braiden Cox is going to take over the story of how he gets shipped off to Japan in issues 5-8. I ended up making it a comic though because I wanted to see if I could actually write a coherent story and pull in the drawings as well. My version was accepted by Insane Comics, but I thought it was pretty weak after having read it over 10,000 times while working on it. I had edited it so much, that it lost all its flavor. Lou Frontier (not his real name), was looking to get his name on the cover of a book as fast as he could, so he sidled up to me with some really good ideas, and much needed exuberance. It was really cool to work with him developing the character. Another (there's been a few since) title picked up on what we were trying to do, so the whole buffalo revenge story got dropped, and we started working in a more Hell-Boy like direction. That was all Lou's idea. It was a great one. So here we are trying to get to the GOOD issue which is issue 4. It's going to be sick, if I can ever find enough time to get it all together.
Will there be more, or something completely new?
No real upcoming projects to speak of. I did the Komodo story (written by Alexander Howard-Fuller) which you can read for free at the moment in the COMICS+ dropdown above. I'm hoping to just wrap up this initial 4 issue arc of American Bison so Braiden Cox can take the reigns. The Japanese based stories are already written and they're super fun. They're going to be a blast when we get to them.
Things we might not know?
I initially chose this character to work with because I figured if it was a western all I'd have to draw were trees for backgrounds, instead of massive cities. I have very limited personal time (don't we all), and I'm not a fan of drawing minutiae. I love it, but I like broader strokes. Once the idea is across it becomes work. I'm lazy. I don't like to work. I need to though because what people have seen really is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to my talent. Honestly though I just wish more people would pick up the book. Especially Issue 2. People changed my original vision so much during the initial development, and copy-cats taking the concept, that it took awhile to find my groove. How could I build off of issue 1 and have it all make sense? During that first issue I pretty much just placed items and objects that I could feed off of later if I ever had the chance. I did. I'm thankful for that. Now I have a solid idea of where this story is going. Lesson learned. Really know what you're trying to do before you do it!
Give us your pitch.
It's becoming a solid story. Issue 1 was admittedly weak. It meandered and really didn't know where it was going. Issue 2 is SOLID. The characters are starting to be developed more and there's a real purpose to their actions. We see their motivations, and what they are trying to do. The artwork is also slightly better than in issue 1. Overall, it's just a much better representation of what I'm capable of doing as a creator. I'm toying with the idea of breaking it completely out of its western mold. I'm hoping people will be receptive to that. I myself never bought western comics. I find them a bit boring overall. This is NOT going to be boring when all is said and done. There's still a lot of time to get onboard. Pick it up. You might be surprised!