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By Gerry Gilmour, Published November 19 2004

N.D. man creates Lewis & Clark comic book

Orville Evjen's love of drawing drew him to history.

The Turtle Lake, N.D., man penned "Jefferson's Lewis & Clark Expedition: Heroes Unlimited." His epic comic book is among more than 170 products featured at the Fargo Civic Auditorium this weekend during the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said the Fargo event is the largest ever held in the state featuring North Dakota foods and condiments, apparel, jewelry, recordings, decorations, and gift items and other products.

This will be the first Pride of Dakota event for Evjen. He teamed up with his cousin, Diane Evjen Schell, to produce and distribute the comic book. The cousins, both janitors at Garrison Dam, got the idea of creating a comic book from Washburn, N.D., sculptor Tom Neary.

They began the project in 2001 and spent a year on research and character design. It took two years to draw. Evjen, who has been drawing actively since he was 5 years old, drew all the panels in pencil and finished them in ink.

The cousins formed a company, Brave Crow Comics, and published 1,000 copies of their first work at United Printing/Spit'n Image in Bismarck. The printing cost $7,000, Evjen said.

The 200-page comic chronicles the lives of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the Indian girl Sakakawea, from their adolescence through the Corps of Discovery.

About 400 books have been sold so far. They retail for $17.95. Evjen will sign copies sold at the Fargo event.

"I really like it when children come up to our table and start reading the book," he said.

Evjen, 30, is half Sioux Indian. His parents were killed in a car accident when he was 18, and he has suffered from depression. Because of that, he said, he deals with the bouts of depression Lewis suffered through on the journey to the West.

"We use a spiritual point of view to talk about what he went through," Evjen said. "It's kind of a history book, but we hope it also has a message."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560