Las Vegas Indian Colony member creates ‘Captain Paiute’ comic book for Native youth
LAS VEGAS — Theodore Tso created the superhero Captain Paiute as a role model for Native youth across the country.
Tso, 43, is a self-taught comic book creator and enrolled member of the Paiute Tribe based out of the Las Vegas Indian Colony in Las Vegas.
“I always read comics as a kid, but I never really saw Natives as the hero,” Tso said during a July interview with First Nation’s Focus. “I wanted the youth to see a Native comic book superhero, and I wanted to the comic to be written by one, so I created Captain Paiute.”
Tso started creating his book, “Captain Paiute: Indigenous Avenger of the Southwest,” more than 25 years ago during high school, but recently brought him back to life in the past five years.
Growing up, Tso said he loved to draw and bring characters to life, and after high school, he was determined to become a creator.
He finally worked up the courage to submit a few pencil samples to numerous publishers, thinking this was his big break. Unfortunately, all of the publications turned him away because his work needed more time and development.
With his dreams crushed, Tso said he became discouraged and stopped creating comics for years.
He went on to serve on the Paiute Tribal Council for three non-consecutive terms, and he raised four children.
Even though he stopped creating, his passion for comics was always there. All the while, Tso continued to attend comic book conventions and that is ultimately what brought him back into creating comics.
“I got my lucky break from a friend who went to the San Diego Comic Con and brought back a flier from an up-and-coming writer who was looking for an artist,” said Tso. “I submitted my work to him, and a couple of weeks later I was drawing ‘Masked Men’ issue #0. I got the opportunity to draw the characters again, but this time it was published in Phil Yea’s ‘Winged Tiger’ series.”
Seeing his work finally get the recognition it deserved, Tso wanted to give Captain Paiute another chance at life.
“Captain Paiute: Indigenous Avenger of the Southwest” was created to tell the story of what it’s like to grow up on a reservation, Tso said.
“Our Native youth need superheroes to look up to and to call their own,” said Tso. “All of the other kids have Captain America to look up to, and now all the Native kids have Captain Paiute to look up to.”
Now that his lifelong work has finally been published, Tso has other projects he is working on in his Las Vegas-based War Paint Studio workshop.
“My journey is just now starting,” said Tso. “I am looking forward to what it will bring.”
When asked what advice he had for other people who have had setbacks while trying to achieve their dreams, Tso urges people to never give up.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” he Tso. “Don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll learn from your mistakes but you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep thinking positive.”
Jarrette Werk (Aaniiih) is a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who worked this summer for the Sierra Nevada Media Group as an intern, writing and taking photos for First Nation’s Focus.
I am over the moon with how strong our school-community relationship is, how easy it was to grow, and surprised by the willingness of my community, students and parents alike, to move in this direction too.