Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Rewind: The Year of Secret Identities, Part Three

As promised, we're continuing our end-of-the-year recap focusing on Springtime in the SI Universe. After spending a good portion of April doing media appearances, including events at NYU and Williams College--and, as documented yesterday, a swing through some awesome schools in Illinois and Indiana--the month of May was one major event after another. I think it had something to do with May being Asian American Heritage Month.

I don't think having the book published close to APA month was a coincidence. I mean, what better time to showcase Asian American superheroes than Asian American Heritage Month, right? The month included a slew of press, including an extensive feature on the State Department's official website America.gov! We also launched the first of six special Teacher Guides (the rest of which will be released throughout 2010).

We also kicked off the month-long festivities attending Free Comic Book Day in Baltimore with Greg LaRocque and on a wet, wet Sunday in New York City for the 30th annual A/PA Heritage Festival. Despite the torrential downpour, we had the opportunity to meet a ton of people and make new fans. The CAPA fest wasn't our only major appearance in New York, however. For the entire month, original artwork was on display in the Time Life building on Sixth Avenue. The gallery was meant to promote a special reception and panel held on May 21 and presented by Time Inc's Asian American Association. In addition to myself, Jeff & Jerry, we were joined on the panel by SI Senior Artist Jef Castro, and comic superstar artists Christine Norrie and Cliff Chiang. The whole thing was expertly moderated by DC/Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote.

Check out photos from the panel on Facebook.

A few days later, the six of us were joined by the Man himself, G.I. Joe creator and living legend Larry Hama, for a special signing at the world famous Midtown Comics in Times Square. Facebook photos available here. The website Pop Culture Shock was there to capture the whole thing on video:


A week later, we capped off APA month with a whirlwind weekend of events in and around Los Angeles. Basically, if you were a bookstore or library in Southern California, chances are, somebody from Secret Identities was there! Outside of San Diego Comic-Con, I'm pretty sure our main event at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo was the biggest gathering of Secret Identities contributors ever. Jerry's excellent recap -- with some great candid photos -- of the weekend can be read at his blog here.

And that does it for April and May. But we weren't finished quite yet because Summer = Convention season! And not only did we have a presence at the trifecta of Comic-Cons (i.e., New York, San Diego, and Baltimore), we decided to throw our own Asian American ComiCon too! Read all about it next time!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Rewind: The Year of Secret Identities, Part Two

We've been looking back on the events and milestones that made 2009 the year of the SI Universe. Last week's post focused on the beginning of the year and our debut appearances at NYCC and ECAASU. Today, we'll focus on the the launch of the book and our swings through Chicago and the midwest.

While the first part of the year was all about getting hyped for the publication of the book on April 15, the press and promotion we did January-March paled in comparison to the seemingly endless touring and appearances that made up most of April and May. We kicked the whole thing off on March 30 in West Lafayette, IN at Purdue University. Joined by the illustrious (and Lafayette homeboy) Bernard Chang, our first college visit and workshop was a rousing success! The next day, we hopped in the car for the 2 hour drive to Champaign, IL to speak at the University of Illinois. In addition to a lunchtime discussion and evening workshop, we were also interviewed by the local public radio program "Afternoon Magazine" (which you can hear here -- beginning about five minutes into the program in the link). Of course, there's no rest for the wicked, so we packed up and headed straight to the city of Chicago for a midday signing event at the totally awesome comic shop Challengers Comics + Conversation followed by a presentation at the University of Illinois-Chicago that evening. We were also given the great honor of guest lecturing at Professor Schaafsma's American Studies class while we were at UIC. Finally, we wrapped up our tour through the Big Ten a few miles north of Chicago at Northwestern University in Evanston. By then, the three of us were pretty exhausted after visiting four schools, and driving hundreds of miles, in four days... as you can probably tell by watching this promo we shot for TurtlistMedia after our Northwestern gig:



I mean, I was so tired, I got the website's name wrong! (Sorry, Jason!)

And that was the end of our swing through the Midwest (though Parry loved Chicago so much, he came back a week later to speak at Columbia College!) Of course, April was also the month in which the book finally came out, and so I can't forget the fact that on its pub date, we got a nice little promo on ABC News, intro'd by Charlie Gibson himself!

While I planned to include our NY and LA launches in this post, I think they deserve their own. So check back tomorrow to hear about our events at the Time Life building in NYC and the Japanese American National Museum in LA.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Rewind: The Year of Secret Identities, Part One

Over the next few days, we're going to be looking back on the events and milestones that made 2009 the year of the SI Universe. Today, we'll focus on the first part of the year that led up to the launch of Secret Identities in April.

Although Secret Identities had been gestating in one form or another since mid-2006, it's hard to believe the enormity of the fact that what started out simply as an idea finally became an actual book sitting on shelves in stores across the country in 2009. And what a year it's been! We kicked off the year with many sleepless nights. In fact, I think it's safe to say that Art Director Jerry Ma and EIC Jeff Yang rang in 2009 in sleep-deprived state since they were editing and designing pages up to the very last second so that the book go to press on time. But January is when the reality that Secret Identities was finally coming to light set in since we were a Featured Item in that month's Previews and retailers could start ordering the book for their stores. But that was only the beginning...

Two big events bookended the month of February: New York Comic-Con and the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference. The S.I. crew made our official debut on a specially dedicated, standing-room-only panel at NYCC. Moderated by Publishers Weekly's Anne Ishii, the panel featured S.I. contribs Greg Pak, Bernard Chang and Jef Castro, in addition to myself and Jeff Yang. We also debuted the first official "trailer" for the book, edited by the one and only Parry Shen. In fact, Parry had so much fun cutting that video together, he went on to direct a dozen more, all available on our official YouTube channel.

As great a success as Comic-Con was, it paled in comparison to the reception we got a few weeks later at the ECAASU conference held at Rutgers! With Parry flying in from L.A., ECAASU marked the first time the whole editorial crew was together in public. But more than that, the love we got from the students in attendance was overwhelming. From our morning workshop to the keynote address we delivered in front of a crowd of hundreds in a packed theater, we had a blast meeting fans and making friends at ECAASU. It felt like coming home. To paraphrase the Mountain Brothers, "our community, it's what we live for."

I think the biggest shock we had at ECAASU was the fact that we sold a ton of books there... even though the book wouldn't be available for two more months! Ostensibly, the students in attendance bought a huge sticker in lieu of having the actual book (though slickly designed by Jerry, it was a sticker nonetheless.) Still, the kids at ECAASU are definitely considered the "early adopters" of Secret Identities! In fact, the show of support we received at ECAASU directly led to a massive influx of "fans" to our Facebook page. So thank you, Rutgers!

I think it was at ECAASU, at like 3AM when we were still selling bookplates, that we all decided we were all a part of something special. And as the pub date of April 15 drew even closer, we were just getting started...

Next time... The SI Crew reps the Chi and the Midwest... Gets in an Empire state of mind for it's New York launch... and feels the California love in Los Angeles...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Interview of Epic Proportions

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen this interview posted already. But what's one more place, huh?

I sat down with my man Jerry Ma over at PopCultureShock.com to talk shop. We discuss everything from Jerry starting Epic Proportions, joining Secret Identities and charming the ladies. If you haven't seen it already, check it out here!

And after you read the piece, head on over to Epic Proportions and enter "KEITHCHOW" in the promo code field and receive $3 off any t-shirt purchased through the site. That's right. I'm a coupon, yo!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pre-Order Secret Asian Man Trade at Amazon!

This is awesome!

I've been waiting for a collection of Tak Toyoshima's Secret Asian Man strips for a long time, and it looks like we're finally getting one just in time for the holidays. Secret Asian Man: The Daily Days will be available on December 14, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon. Tak took it upon himself to self-publish the book, and he's even taking PayPal orders at his website.

We can't wait to see his book sitting on our bookshelf (right next to Secret Identities, natch!)

Monday, November 2, 2009

SIUniverse Ballers: Week One Update

Considering that the NBA season is 82 games long, don't expect these updates to become a regular feature here at the SI blog. Still, I thought you might want to know how the teams are doing.

So far, Koji Steven Sakai's Team Rabbit, Ren Hsieh's The Royal We and Steve Nguyen's Steve Squad are the cream of the fantasy crop, posting seven or more category wins. Alas, the season's still young, and a lot can happen between now and April.

Rank Team W-L-T Pct GB Last Week Waiver Moves
1. Team Rabbit 8-1-0 .889 - 8-1-0 3 2
2. The Royal We 7-1-1 .833 0.5 7-1-1 1 1
3. Steve Squad 7-2-0 .778 1 7-2-0 12 3
4. DINGLEJERRIES 6-3-0 .667 2 6-3-0 9 1
5. Yellow Peril 6-3-0 .667 2 6-3-0 8 1
6. The Turds 5-4-0 .556 3 5-4-0 6 -
7. Win With Lin 4-5-0 .444 4 4-5-0 10 -
8. MyStickFigures 3-6-0 .333 5 3-6-0 4 2
9. LA Fakers 3-6-0 .333 5 3-6-0 7 2
10. Agent 0 2-7-0 .222 6 2-7-0 5 1
11. 7 Seconds or Mess 1-7-1 .167 6.5 1-7-1 2 -
12. FU-KUNG 1-8-0 .111 7 1-8-0 11 -

Friday, October 23, 2009

SIUniverse Ballers: The Secret Identities Fantasy Basketball League

Just in time for a new NBA season, and to celebrate the fact that NBATV in HD has finally come to Verizon FiOS, we are announcing a Secret Identities-affiliated fantasy basketball league made up of book contributors, celebrity friends, and SI super fans.

So far, team managers include Secret Identities Art Director Jerry Ma, Wonder Woman artist Bernard Chang, Saving Face actor Brian Yang, The People I've Slept With screenwriter/producer Koji Steven Sakai, Yao Central blogger Ren Hsieh and more!

There are still room for more players, so if you're interested send an email to keith@secretidentities.org with "SIUniverse Ballers" in the subject line. There's a $25 entry fee, a portion of which will be donated to the Asian American basketball organization Dream League.

But hurry up. The live online draft starts this Monday night, October 26 at 7:30pm PDT. Follow the action this season at http://basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/secretidentities

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

See You in Baltimore This Weekend!

After stops in New York and San Diego, we'll complete the Comic-Con trifecta with a jaunt through B-more for Baltimore Comic-Con this weekend. Secret Identities editors Keith Chow and Jerry Ma will be repping the book in Artists Alley at Table #54. Make sure to stop by. Jerry will be doing some sketches and will have some of his awesome Epic tees in tow as well.

Also in attendance at Comic-Con are fellow SI contribs Bernard Chang, Cliff Chiang, Larry Hama and Greg LaRocque. Check us out!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"The Weapon" Movie a.k.a. Why Do We Even Bother?

So the latest comic book property to catch the eyes of Hollywood execs is a little ditty called "The Weapon" from Platinum Studios. Never heard of it? Well, neither have we. Apparently, the comic's about a martial artist/inventor/businessman named Tommy who is able to create solid objects out of light--like Green Lantern, I suppose--and creates the superhero persona of "The Weapon" to market and promote his product. (For what it's worth, you can read the entire four-issue run here.)

The comic came out in 2007 and is now moving forward as a major motion picture. Granted, Platinum Studios' entire raison d'ĂȘtre is to create licensing opportunities for its comic properties, so it isn't a shock that there's a movie deal in place. What's shocking is who has been tapped to play the lead character--who, by the way is an Asian American guy named Tommy Zhou. The Hollywood trades are reporting David Henrie, star of Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place, has been cast in the lead as Tommy.

Since I've never seen an episode of Waverly Place, I can't speak to Henrie's acting ability. But having just read through the first issue of The Weapon online, it's pretty obvious that Tommy Zhou is an Asian American guy. And it's pretty obvious that David Henrie is not an Asian American guy. But more than that, Tommy is a character whose ancestry is a pretty major component of the book (for instance, the backstory he creates for his newly invented products is based on old Chinese myths his grandfather used to tell him as a child).

In the wake of casting controversies in movies like 21, The Last Airbender and Dragonball Evolution, it's a punch in the gut to see yet another Asian/Asian American character become whitewashed in the live action adaptation. (And unlike Avatar and Dragonball, the whole "the story doesn't take place on earth" argument doesn't even apply this time). More on this from Angry Asian Man and channelAPA.

On the one hand, we created Secret Identities to fill a void in the superhero comics world. (One of the things we do when talking on college campuses is to ask the audience to count how many Asian American superheroes there are). The reasoning is that seeing more diversity in comics will translate to other forms of media since comics seed so much of what is popular in entertainment. So it's even more troubling to see a wholly original Asian American superhero character be portrayed by the kid with no lines on How I Met Your Mother.

I guess we're wrong. Maybe Tom Cruise will play The Nisei Kid in the 9066 movie adaptation after all?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good News and Bad News from SI Contrib Tak Toyoshima...

Well, you may have heard already that United Features Syndicate didn't renew Tak Toyoshima's awesome strip SECRET ASIAN MAN for daily syndication--their loss, dammit. Here's Tak's announcement of the news:
THE RETURN OF SECRET ASIAN MAN WEEKLY
After just over three years of daily syndication with United Features, Secret Asian Man will shift gears and return to a weekly format. On Saturday September 19, 2009 papers will run the very last daily strip. It was disappointing that United Features decided to pull the plug but at the same invigorating to think of the freedom. I'm not going to bad mouth United Features at all but it will be liberating to be able to act on SAM related projects without having to clear them...and there are a couple I'm already working on.
So what does this mean for the strip? The characters and continuity will remain but I will produce one larger strip a week (like a Sunday comic format) and will keep running in publications and web sites that choose to continue running it. I even picked up a couple of new papers! The very last daily strip will reveal a major development in SAM's life so stay tuned, see what happens and onward and upward for SAM!
On the other hand, the return to weekly format gives Tak more time to...BE A DAD TO HIS NEW BABY SON, born at 5 pm today, and joining his proud parents and big bro Owen in the Toyoshima household. (Just missed being one of our Secret Identities babies...) Congrats to Tak!

And thanks, Tak, also for joining me at the Asian American Journalists Association convention (link: Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View) this year for a signing session that was, uh, light in numbers, but huge in camaraderie. See you when we're back up in Boston in the fall!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SI Draw Off! Even More Optimus

The SI Draw-Off mentioned last time was not exclusive to the four editors. In fact, this meme is open to the whole SI Crew, so if any of you have an Optimus Prime picture itching to "roll out," then feel free to send 'em our way!

As promised, here are a few more Optimus portraits from real artists. To your left is our friend Bernard Chang's contribution to the challenge. To make things more difficult, Bernard drew The Heartbreak Prime in less than five minutes while playing poker with Parry and friends.Had no idea the Autobots were down with wrestling factions from the mid-90s. Does this mean the Dinobots are the nWo?

Up next is a take on Optimus by our very own Senior Artist Jef Castro. The second Jef heard about the meme, he knew he had to take part, so he whipped up this sketch in a matter of minutes! And look at him. All dramatic and stuff. And if you notice, all the real artists (Jerry, Bernard, Jef) actually drew windshield wipers on the chest. Damn artists and their attention to detail!

So, is there anyone else out there in Secret Identities Land that wants to step up to the plate with their own Optimus?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Third Angry Asian Man Contest Winner: Wildstyle

Also posted at angry asian man.

---

And now, the third winning entry from the Secret Identities Superhero Contest, where readers were asked to submit their own original idea for an Asian American superhero. This one, WILDSTYLE by Tiffany Namwong, received a special honor as our first-day contest winner. Here it is, as rendered by artist A.L. Baroza.

EDITORS' NOTES


We already commented on Tiffany Namwong's Wildstyle--and we were particularly delighted to meet her in person at San Diego Comic-Con, where she made good use of the free registration she won in our special first-day mini-contest. As we looked at the other entries, we thought that Tiffany's hero was certainly one of the top three entries overall--but for fairness's sake, we decided to add a fourth winner as well, since Tiffany already got her own copy of SI signed by a horde of contribs at SDCC.

Anyway, for those who missed the original synopsis of Tiffany's hero, which won her a free registration for SDCC, here it is again--as well as A.L. Baroza's awesome visualization of the young Thai tattoo artist. I had the privilege of working with Aldin on the SI story "A Day at CostumeCo," and he brings the same visual flair and painstaking attention to detail to Tiffany's character--even including Wildstyle's demonic nemesis Maya and a horde of uglies to complete the tableau. Thanks, Tiffany and A.L.!

EDITED DESCRIPTION

Wildstyle by Tiffany Namwong

Ratana Nantakarn is a teenaged Thai American girl, born into a struggling immigrant family, raised by television and saved from drug addiction by the only adult who's been able to win over her trust: A Buddhist monk who encourages her nascent artistic skills, and helps her gain admission to a prestigious art academy. But after her mentor's work with at-risk youth leads to run-ins with the "connected" local drug syndicate, an anonymous tip leads INS to revoke the monk's visa and deport him back to Thailand. An enraged Ratana drops out of school, returning to the streets to try to find the thugs responsible for her mentor's plight. In doing so, she finds another outlet for her artistic sensibilities, becoming the queen of the Los Angeles tagging scene. Ratana with a spray can on a dimly lit street is like a tiger in the jungle; she uses her artistic skills to feed her ego, but to feed herself she turns to petty crime, and soon falls back into the rabbit-hole of addiction.

Meanwhile, realizing that Ratana is on their trail, the same gangsters who arranged for her mentor's disappearance decide to remove her from the equation as well. She escapes to Thailand after scamming an elderly man looking for a young escort for his summer vacation. She succeeds in locating her old teacher, too late to reconnect with him: He'd been working with a local charity continuing his work with troubled youth, but recently passed away of cancer.

Arjun Gautama, a young Indian American man who has spent the summer volunteering for the charity, tells her that the monk asked for her in his final moments, and gives her his ashes. Ratana takes them to the monk's ancestral village hoping to find a suitable resting place for his remains. Instead, she finds a wrecked and empty hamlet, destroyed by drug lords, whose only surviving structure is the old, abandoned temple in which the monk once served.

In a fit of self-hatred and a desire to vent her frustrations over the fact that her mentor died without anyone to care for him or provide for his final respects, she impulsively pulls out her spray can and desecrates the shrine.

But the temple is not entirely empty: The holy place's long-forgotten guardian spirit rises up out of its altar, calling forth a curse on the blaspheming human invader. Her life and soul are forfeit for her crime, and all seems lost - until the spirit of the old monk rises out of his ashes, and bids the guardian to hold.

The sin Ratana has committed cannot simply be forgiven. But the monk asks that she be given the opportunity - and the power - to earn that forgiveness, using her talent to redeem the crime she committed with that talent.

A great evil, the demon Maya, is attempting to build a dominion on Earth, having taken human form as a pop idol on the verge of superstardom, and enslaving youths with the addictive combination of her music and a devastating new drug.

To defeat Maya and her army of followers, Ratana is given the ability to bring her art to life...using human canvases: She must seek out and befriend a series of youths who are ripe to become "vessels" for Ratana's power. Once these men and women have willingly made the decision to accept the burden, Ratana tattoos their backs the image of a creature and a holy mantra that transforms them into that creature - irrevocably, until Maya is destroyed.

Ratana's mission takes her and Arjun - whose friendship she increasingly grows to depend on, until it evolves into something more - to Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and finally back to Los Angeles, seeking out new allies, while pursuing Maya and battling her host of demons, hoping to simultaneously save the world and put her own personal demons to rest.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

SI Draw Off! The Optimus Prime Meme

So, for some odd reason, we your humble Secret Identities editors decided to each do a rendition of the iconic Autobot leader Optimus Prime. This all started because Jerry posted a quick sketch of Prime that Parry did and shared it with all of his Facebook friends.

Here's how Parry explains the drawing:
"I was looking over some of the sdcc photos that Marcy took of the iron fist you tattoed on my arm and noticed she called him a 'transformer' because you were originally supposed to draw an optimus prime for me.

Then I remembered you sketching him out on a napkin at Nobu and being amazed at you recalling all his little details.

So I too, starting sketching him out to see if I could rememeber as well (see attached) and [Parry's daughter] Avery came up and asked if I was drawing a robot - to which I proudly replied 'Yes, it is!'.

Avery: Are you practicing so you can draw me a robot someday?

Me: Yep.

Avery: I've never seen you draw a robot before But Jerry could probably draw me a better one.

Me: Muther #!@* "

Seeing that Parry had left out Prime's trademark horns, I started sketching out my own version and sent it to Jerry and Parry. Thus, challenging the rest of the crew to a draw-off. If you look closely, you can see that I sketched this on the back of another document. (I didn't have any blank paper on hand). I did this from memory, but needed help on the Autobot symbol. That thing is hard to draw!

Optimus used to be one of my go-to doodles whenever I was stuck in a boring meeting or class, so I had t o come correct. Only later did I realize that by challenging a group of people that included Jerry Ma, my Optimus was going to get served pretty handily. (More on Jerry's later.)

Up next in the Optimus Gauntlet was our Editor-In-Chief himself, Jeff! I think this is the first time I'd ever seen any of Jeff's doodling. (I've seen Parry sketch a few times. He even did our contribution to the "signing wall" at the Chicago comic shop Challenger's!). Jeff did his sketch freehand and in crayon. He claims his five-year-old son Hudson loves it though. Even if he did draw Optimus with lips (just like the Michael Bay movie). Personally, I think the blue crayon is a nice touch!

Rounding out the editorial team is our Art Director Jerry Ma. Of course he had to go and hand everyone their a**es with his "five-minute" sketch. I think he cheated. For one, well, Jerry's actually an artist, so that's not fair. And #2, okay, so there is no number two. But I guess Parry's daughter Avery was right after all. Jerry "could probably draw a better one."

Up next, artists Bernard Chang and Jef Castro throw down the gauntlet as they transform and roll out their own five-minute Primes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Next Angry Asian Man Contest Winner: The Sneak

Also posted at angry asian man.

---

Here's the second installment of the winning entries from the Secret Identities Superhero Contest, where readers were asked to submit their own original idea for an Asian American superhero. This is THE SNEAK by Kevin Cheung, as envisioned b Jerry Ma. Here's are all the details...

EDITORS' NOTES

And now, The Sneak. We really liked the idea of a B-boy hero, and thought Kevin did a good job of establishing the character; the main things that we felt needed tweaking here involved tightening up the origin story (originally Richie just finds his super-powered sneakers in an alley--gotta amp up the drama a little more than that!) and shaping the powers a little. In Kevin's submission, Richie's powers involved transmuting and manipulating surrounding objects based on his emotions; we changed them to blades that project Richie's emotions into similar kinds of energy (anger generates heat, etc.). The energy blades also tie back to Richie's B-boy name, SAM or Samurai.

Meanwhile, SECRET IDENTITIES art director Jerry volunteered to bring The Sneak to life as soon as he saw the outline. Here are his own thoughts on the hero:

"As a big fan of Planet B-Boy and America's Best Dance Crew, I really wanted to draw this character—especially since I'm actually working on my own B-Boy type of comic as well right now. Unfortunately I'm NOT a graffiti artist...which should be painfully obvious here. But I thought it was necessary for the character to have a 'street' type of logo. So whenever The Sneak becomes big time, he can get a real street artist to redo that for me. Maybe my boy John Franzese (artist for the story MEET JOE in SI) would like to take a stab at that, eh? Lastly, I thought after watching Planet B-Boy again to get into the mood for this drawing, that the 'big' hair was like...necessary. And since he's dubbed 'Sam,' I thought it'd be cool if he wore one of my samurai tshirts. Hope this sketch captures what Kevin had in mind when writing up this character!"

EDITED DESCRIPTION

The Sneak by Kevin Cheung

It's the early Eighties, and while the suits and labels haven't discovered it, the underground hip-hop movement is going strong. Richie Leung, an incoming freshman at the University of New York, encounters this rich new culture by accident, when he -- literally -- runs into a B-boy in performing his moves for a small crowd on the sidewalk in front of his dorm; accepting the awestruck Richie's apology, the B-boy invites him to a jam in the South Bronx, where he watches a dominating crew known as The Fresh Ones crush the competition. After the battle, he asks to join the crew and learn their moves. They reluctantly agree, giving him the B-boy name "Samurai" -- or SAM for short.

A few years later, Richie has become one of the crew's leaders, having spent all of his spare time learning, practicing and creating innovative moves. His passion has made him a master, but it's also led to his flunking out of UNY.

When his perfectionist immigrant father discovers that Richie has been spending his time dancing rather than studying, he calls his son home for an epic confrontation. During the fight, his father takes the shoes Richie removed before coming into the apartment -- at least there's one Chinese tradition Richie has continued to follow -- and hurls them out the window, telling him he's ashamed of him, and disowning him from the family. Richie tells him he doesn't care; he has a new family anyway: his brothers in the crew.

But as Richie seeks out his fellow Fresh Ones at their respective homes and hangouts, hoping for somewhere to stay -- and to borrow a fresh pair of shoes -- he's horrified to find each of them dead... murdered, without a clue or explanation as to why. Is it jealousy? Revenge? Something else? All Richie knows is that he's the sole survivor of his brothers -- and he'll only stay that way if he can keep one step ahead of whoever's been hunting them down.

And then, Richie finds himself attacked by dark, faceless figures. Fighting them off with modified B-boy moves, he races through the city, using his skills to dodge and acrobatically avoid his pursuers. Then he makes one bad move -- running down a treacherous blind alley into a dead end. His feet are bloodied by the full speed chase; the alley is full of broken glass and jagged pieces of metal, and the sound of his hunters is growing louder. That's when he notices shadowy figure before him, standing in the buzzing glow of an overhead neon light. As Richie watches, his heart pounding, the figure kneels down on one knee and lays out a pair of sneakers -- a brand new pair of Jags, with emblems on the side that he's never seen before. And then the figure fades into the shadows. Just before his mysterious benefactor disappears, Richie catches a glimpse of his face. He could swear that he looks just like the B-boy who'd invited him to his first jam.

Richie pulls the kicks on, just as his attackers pour into the alley. As they swarm him from all directions, he feels fear in his heart -- and there's a flash as the emblems on his shoes glow with a sudden light, and a pair of dull green blades appear in his hands, which when he swings them against his attackers seems to paralyze them, sending them stumbling to the ground. His fear turns to excitement, and the emblems on his shoes and the blades in his hands turn yellow, and strike now with a shocking electrical charge. As his confidence grows, the excitement turns to anger -- and the blades glow red with searing heat.

The attackers flee before Richie's newfound ability to turn his emotions into energy. Now, as B-boy Sam turned superpowered street samurai The Sneak, Richie decides to turn the tables, tracking down his attackers, uncovering why they've targeted him and his brothers -- and getting his revenge.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Angry Asian Man Contest Winner: Tumbas

Also posted at angry asian man.

---

As promised, here's the first rendering of the winning entries from the Secret Identities Superhero Contest, where readers were asked to submit their own original idea for an Asian American superhero. This is TUMBAS by Rochell Reyes, as drawn by Jef Castro. And all the details...

EDITORS' NOTES ON THE HERO

We thought this was a well-conceived and nicely developed character, and liked the way the story was set up to establish two brothers as equal and opposite forces -- a classic face-off of nemeses. At first we were a bit put off because the concept does have quite a bit of similarity with the story "Trinity" in SECRET IDENTITIES (which, written and drawn by Greg LaRocque, features not two but three half-siblings who are the children of a super-soldier and have each inherited some of his powers -- and dog tags are central to that story as well!), but we ultimately decided that this character complemented rather than duplicated "Trinity" and gave the creator the benefit of the doubt (Tumbas/Trinity crossover, anyone?).

In tightening the character and editing this origin, we made some small changes -- increasing Tumbas's age slightly from 13 to 15 (would a 13 year old be able to wear his dad's military uniform?) and altered Tumbas's powers slightly. To make the half-brothers more clearly an equal match, Tumbas has super-strength and heightened vision, while his sibling has super-speed and the power of invisibility. Strength versus speed and sight versus camouflage are classic counters. We also gave him a limitation -- his powers are initially limited, requiring "recharge," and must be triggered by adrenaline and an act of will. It's always better to give a hero room to grow!

And now, here's Tumbas, as drawn by Jef Castro, SECRET IDENTITIES' senior artist; Jef chose to draw John as he imagined him immediately after he discovering his powers, rather than "in action" in his dad's military uniform -- so you see him in this pic in all his surfer-boy glory!

EDITED DESCRIPTION

TUMBAS by Rochell Reyes

John Reyes is an ordinary 15-year-old Filipino American surfer kid from the San Diego coast. His name and complexion -- and the fact that he lives right next to the America's southern border -- often leads people to mistake him for Mexican. On the other, he's also often asked if he's Hawaiian, Samoan, Chinese, and at least one time, Egyptian. His ambiguous ethnic identity would be a source of irritation for many, but John has learned to take advantage of it, to fit in, or even disappear, as needed.

That skill at camouflage may be a legacy of his father, Marco Reyes, a 15-year veteran of Army military intelligence who recently was reported dead after a covert mission in Afghanistan; although the Army was unable to recover Marco's body, his unit's commanding officer has stated that the circumstances of Marco's death make it impossible that he might have survived.

When John's mother Jaya tearfully tells him the news, she expects him to be devastated; any other normal 13-year-old would be. But John tells her he feels nothing. His father's profession has made him an absentee for most of John's young life; how, he asks his mother, could he miss someone he'd never connected with at all?

A week after the news of Marco's death, John and Jaya receive a small package in the mail -- a box, containing a small metal rectangle bearing the name and rank of his father, LT. MARCO REYES, U.S. ARMY; his father's old dog tag from basic training. Jaya places the tag and its chain around John's neck, encouraging him to use it to remember his father, and to release whatever he has bottled up inside of him.

Later that day, sitting on the beach and holding the tag in one hand, John tries unsuccessfully to remember and mourn his father. In a fit of anger, he picks up a small rock and hurls it at the ocean. As he releases the stone, he feels a surge go through his body; when the rock hits the water, it doesn't skip -- it skates along at supersonic speed, raising a foot-high wake and sending mist and steam rising behind it as it disappears into the horizon.

John, shaken, tries to figure out what happened. He couldn't have thrown that stone that fast -- no human could. But somehow, he did. Piecing together what happened, he realizes that the sudden flash of strength came as he held Marco's tag and focused on his father's memory. But, try as he might, no amount of concentration can bring that power back.

Remembering that beneath his parents' bed is a foot locker of Marco's old memorabilia, John races home, hoping to discover some kind of clue. But the chest contains an old uniform, some snow globes collected from around the world, pictures of Marco's Army buddies. As John grits back tears of frustration and squeezes his father's dog tag in his fist, he feels another surge and the world goes white -- then refocuses with an entirely new perspective. He can now see with microscopic detail and perfect clarity, and even, as his eyes dart around the room, view the interiors of hollow objects. He blinks in surprise, and his hypervision fades, revealing the world in its ordinary state again...but not before he sees that the foot locker has a false bottom. John slides the bottom back. Beneath it is a yellowing notebook -- a diary going back to Marco's days before he'd met John's mother, recounting his days as a promising young high school grad who'd signed up with the Army to honor his late father, a Filipino veteran of the Second World War.

What they reveal is that Marco wasn't an ordinary member of military intelligence, but a recruit for a secret covert unit of super-soldiers, volunteers to undergo a series of experiments that gave them inhuman abilities. But then the diary stops, and John notices that a sheaf of pages have been torn from it. The only other thing left, tucked into the binding of the notebook, is an old black and white photograph -- a Polaroid of his father with his arm around a young Asian woman, who has a laughing baby in her arms. The woman, who looks East Asian, is not John's mother. The baby is not John.

In the days that follow, John learns more about his powers, activated by adrenaline and the memory of his father; the tag is a trigger, but the abilities seem inborn, a legacy of Marco's mutated genes. Unfortunately, the powers have limits; he can use either his strength or his vision, but not both simultaneously, and he can maintain them only for a short period of time. And after using either, he has to allow them to recharge; at first, he's unable to summon a "surge" more than once a day, though as he trains himself, using his father's old uniform and a souvenir mask his mother had brought back from a visit to the Philippines as his "costume," he quickly reduces the time lapse to an hour.

And then comes an encounter that will change John's life again forever. As he prepares to finish high school, San Diego is hit with a string of "silent robberies": Banks are being broken into and their contents stolen, without a trace of evidence -- except for a name graffiti spraypainted on the walls of every ransacked bank: "MARCO REYES."

The authorities question John and Jaya, investigating whether Lt. Reyes is in fact truly dead, and asking if they have any connection to the crimes. The combination of the harsh interrogation and the reminder of the loss sends Jaya into a state of depression, leading John to investigate the crimes himself, to clear his late father's name and raise his mother's broken spirits.

And that's when he encounters Marco Jr. -- the young boy in the secret photo, John's half-brother and elder by a year. Marco had met Marco Jr.'s mother, married her, and fathered Marco Jr. during his secret training overseas, at the USAG Humphreys base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. But when Marco Jr.'s mother passed away from an accident, his grandparents barred Marco from seeing him again, and ordered him to cut off all ties.

But upon Marco's death, each of his sons received one of his two dog tags -- activating the hidden secret within their chromosomes. John has inherited and is learning to use his father's superhuman strength and paranormal vision; Marco Jr., unnatural speed and the power to blend into the shadows. Fueled by rage at their deceased father (enhanced by the lies he's been told by his late mother's family), Marco Jr. has made it his goal to destroy Lt. Reyes's name; John, meanwhile, adopts the alias "Tumbas" (which means "equal" in Tagalog), John goes on a mission to stop his half-brother and clear his father's reputation -- while discovering the truth about the side of Marco Reyes that neither he nor his mother ever knew.

To learn more about Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, visit the website here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Angry Asian Man Contest Winners


Cross posted at angry asian man

---

All right. Many thanks to all who entered last month's Secret Identities Superhero Contest. You were asked to submit your own ideas for an original Asian American superhero. I apologize it's taken so long to announce the winners, but the Secret Identities editors are busy guys. After much deliberation, we have our three superheroes:
TUMBAS by Rochell Reyes
THE SNEAK by Kevin Cheung
HUSH by Juli Martin
And a special honor to our first-day contest winner:
WILDSTYLE by Tiffany Namwong
Nice work to all of you. They each get a signed copy of Secret Identities, and get their hero rendered by a Secret Identities artist. We'll unveil the completed sketches of each winning hero, including their descriptions, later this week.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted a superhero. We had an awesome, overwhelming response from readers who came up with some fantastic ideas. To learn more about Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, go here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reviewing G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra

So Jeff requested I repost the G.I. Joe movie review I originally posted over here. I guess, since it is the #1 movie in America, and that S.I. contributor Larry Hama was a consultant on the film (though his onscreen cameo* was left on the cutting room floor! Unconscionable!), it is tangentially related enough to Secret Identities to be posted here. I guess.

*to check out footage of Larry's cameo, see this behind-the-scenes video in which Larry discusses how he came to the world of the Joes.

Anyway, on to the review.
---

Since I reviewed Transformers: ROTF LMAO back in June, I guess it's only fair that I talk about my thoughts on G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra as well. (Interesting/creepy side note: when I came home from seeing Transformers, I turned on the computer to find out Michael Jackson was hospitalized/dying. Last night, after watching G.I. Joe, Twitter tells me John Hughes had passed. It's true, the '80s are slowly disintegrating from existence.)

OK, first up, shocker of shockers, I actually kind of liked the movie. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't good (at all), but it was undeniably fun. (Full disclosure, I saw the move for free at a vintage-style drive-in with some cool friends, so these factors could have attributed to the enjoyment factor). I think I liked it on a visceral level (similar to why I was a fan of the cartoon, methinks--which also, when you really get down to it, weren't very good either). Of course, I would have preferred a movie that adhered a little closer to Larry Hama's epic comic stories (especially his version of the Snake Eyes-Storm Shadow relationship), but that's probably asking too much.

I'll say this, if you enjoyed the cartoons, you'll like the movie. My brother Raymond observed too that if you were a 12-year-old, the cinematic G.I. Joe experience would have been a revelation. And I can't disagree. There's just something geeky cool about seeing all the cool vehicles and weapons wreaking havoc and blowing up cities. And you can't leave out the badass katana fights--ninjas make everything better after all. The one thing the movie got right, unlike Transformers, is that each of the characters had a distinct personality. Even if they were all wearing black leather, X-Men suits, each character on the Joe team--Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Breaker, and Heavy Duty--had a unique role and function. I actually kind of wish the movie was more about them than the two leads we got--Channing Tatum's Duke and Marlon Wayans' Ripcord. Tatum takes the notion of "wooden acting" to a whole new level. Seriously, this dude makes Hayden Christensen seem like a dynamic thespian. And while Wayans' Ripcord was a likable character, I would have liked him more if he weren't channeling 1997-era Will Smith. I was also disappointed in Dennis Quaid's General Hawk. Hawk was one of my favorite Joes growing up, and Quiad just sleepwalks through the whole thing. And also, would it have been so bad to let him wear a brown bomber jacket and green camo pants for just one scene in the flick? Is that asking too much?

On the Cobra side of things, I thought Sienna Miller was okay as Baroness (though I would have preferred the vague, eastern European accent she had on the cartoon) and dug Christopher Eccleston's snively, conniving interpretation of Destro. I'm undecided about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Cobra Commander. He was appropriately over the top, but I couldn't get passed the redesign of the character, especially during the supposedly iconic reveal of him as "The Commander." I think that scene would have worked better if JG-L was wearing a mask that actually evoked one of Cobra Commander's many looks and not the weird, clear skull-looking helmet they gave him. I guess my problem with Cobra Commander and the Neo-Vipers is the same problem I have with the robot model designs in Transformers, namely that they are over-designed. I mean, the Cobra Trooper look is pretty hard to mess up. They're wearing blue military uniforms and blue helmets with red or black scarves over their faces! Why make them look like Imperial Stormtroopers crossed with an armadillo? I figured the looks of the Joes and Cobras would not be so difficult to translate to live action, so I don't understand the need to redesign everything. Some designs are iconic enough to stay the same, no? I mean they got the looks of Baroness, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow (for the most part) right, so why not the others?

So what did I like? Honestly, I liked the little touches. The most geek-out moment for me was when Breaker asked for a piece of gum and blew a bubble while in the car. I thought that was awesome! A nice little touch for the fans. I thought Snake Eyes was pretty cool (despite the mouth on the mask and lack of UZI. Seriously, Snake Eyes packs a glock? WTF?). I do wish the backstory of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow wasn't as simplistic as the movie made it seem. But it was serviceable. I hope there's more focus on them in Part 2. Basically, I want a Snake Eyes movie. (Hey, if all the X-Men movies can be about Wolverine, than all the Joe movies can be about Snake Eyes!) And Snake Eyes looks absolutely badass in a hood and trenchcoat!

I liked that the Night Raven, the C.L.A.W., the S.H.A.R.C.s, and the U.S.S. Flagg all made appearances. And Baroness' tricked out HumVee was essentially a modern version of the Cobra Stinger. The Pit was pretty cool too. I also liked that the Joe's arctic gear resembled Snow Job's.

Bottom line: it was a bunch of dumb fun. I really wanted to dislike the movie, but I have to admit I was entertained for two hours. It was definitely better than both Transformers movies, and there's a (naive) part of me that hopes they fix what they got wrong for the sequel. What can I say? At heart, I'm a diehard Joe fan. Larry Hama practically defined my childhood. I was gonna like it no matter what.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SDCC '09 Jam Piece Winner

San Diego Comic Con 2009 was a huge success and 153 lucky people walked away with their newly purchased copies of Secret Identities.

With each signing we had everyday, an artist sketched either an existing Asian Superhero or one in "Secret Identities" as a part of a collage/jam piece to be raffled off to one lucky winner at the end of the convention (although Snake Eyes gets a pass on the Asian theme since hey, it's a Larry Hama original and "Asian Hulk" in the b.g. by Bernard Chang as well -- unless Hulk scribe Greg Pak writes it into reality at Marvel?).

However in order to get an entry, folks needed to first show us at least 10 collected signatures in their copy of "SI" from the 22+ contributors spread throughout the convention.

In the end, 30 folks had collectively compiled over 300 signatures/sketches and the winner is... Cecil DeClaro or Orange, CA. So thanks to everyone for playing along and great meeting you all!

Thanks to all the artists who jammed on this: Bernard Chang, Jimmy Aquino, Benton Jew, Tiffanie Hwang, Jerry Ma, Ming Doyle, Larry Hama, Gene Yang, Walden Wong and Sonny Liew.






Monday, July 20, 2009

Comic-Con Pass Winner

Congrats Tiffany! See ya in San Diego...

Originally posted at angry asian man:

Thank you to everyone who has entered the Secret Identities Asian American superhero contest thus far. We got a handful of really strong submissions within the first twenty-four hours, and have a picked a winner for the San Diego Comic-Con guest pass giveaway portion of the contest. The winner is...

WILDSTYLE by Tiffany Namwong. A really cool, creative and thoughtful character. Here's a (slightly edited) description of Tiffany's winning hero:
Ratana Nantakarn is a teenaged Thai American girl, born into a struggling immigrant family, raised by television and saved from drug addiction by the only adult who's been able to win over her trust: A Buddhist monk who encourages her nascent artistic skills, and helps her gain admission to a prestigious art academy. But after her mentor's work with at-risk youth leads to run-ins with the "connected" local drug syndicate, an anonymous tip leads INS to revoke the monk's visa and deport him back to Thailand. An enraged Ratana drops out of school, returning to the streets to try to find the thugs responsible for her mentor's plight. In doing so, she finds another outlet for her artistic sensibilities, becoming the queen of the Los Angeles tagging scene. Ratana with a spray can on a dimly lit street is like a tiger in the jungle; she uses her artistic skills to feed her ego, but to feed herself she turns to petty crime, and soon falls back into the rabbit-hole of addiction.

Meanwhile, realizing that Ratana is on their trail, the same gangsters who arranged for her mentor's disappearance decide to remove her from the equation as well. She escapes to Thailand after scamming an elderly man looking for a young escort for his summer vacation. She succeeds in locating her old teacher, too late to reconnect with him: He'd been working with a local charity continuing his work with troubled youth, but recently passed away of cancer.

Arjun Gautama, a young Indian American man who has spent the summer volunteering for the charity, tells her that the monk asked for her in his final moments, and gives her his ashes. Ratana takes them to the monk's ancestral village hoping to find a suitable resting place for his remains. Instead, she finds a wrecked and empty hamlet, destroyed by drug lords, whose only surviving structure is the old, abandoned temple in which the monk once served.

In a fit of self-hatred and a desire to vent her frustrations over the fact that her mentor died without anyone to care for him or provide for his final respects, she impulsively pulls out her spray can and desecrates the shrine.

But the temple is not entirely empty: The holy place's long-forgotten guardian spirit rises up out of its altar, calling forth a curse on the blaspheming human invader. Her life and soul are forfeit for her crime, and all seems lost - until the spirit of the old monk rises out of his ashes, and bids the guardian to hold.

The sin Ratana has committed cannot simply be forgiven. But the monk asks that she be given the opportunity - and the power - to earn that forgiveness, using her talent to redeem the crime she committed with that talent.

A great evil, the demon Maya, is attempting to build a dominion on Earth, having taken human form as a pop idol on the verge of superstardom, and enslaving youths with the addictive combination of her music and a devastating new drug.

To defeat Maya and her army of followers, Ratana is given the ability to bring her art to life...using human canvases: She must seek out and befriend a series of youths who are ripe to become "vessels" for Ratana's power. Once these men and women have willingly made the decision to accept the burden, Ratana tattoos their backs the image of a creature and a holy mantra that transforms them into that creature - irrevocably, until Maya is destroyed.

Ratana's mission takes her and Arjun - whose friendship she increasingly
grows to depend on, until it evolves into something more - to Hong Kong,
Seoul, Tokyo, and finally back to Los Angeles, seeking out new allies,
while pursuing Maya and battling her host of demons, hoping to
simultaneously save the world and put her own personal demons to rest.
Nice work, Tiffany. She has scored herself a guest pass to next week's completely sold-out 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. Here's a note from the Secret Identities editors explaining why they chose Wildstyle:
Tiffany's entry impressed us on a number of levels. Her protagonist's story was gritty and believable, and there was an authenticity to Wildstyle's origin and powers - what they were and how she received them made sense, given her identity and cultural background. The story also scales up nicely, from the streets of L.A. to a globe-trotting quest to, well, a cosmic battle between ultimate good and ultimate evil; this narrative has a lot of texture and momentum, and could move forward in so many different ways. We also liked that Tiffany chose to
include some personal relationships for her heroine - a mentor, who can continue to advise her from beyond the grave, and a love interest, or at least potential love interest, whom she grows to depend on but is afraid she's putting into mortal danger. There's a Whedonesque feel to Wildstyle, and we mean that as a huge compliment!

We liked the two runner-up hero submissions as well: Kevin Cheung's "The Sneak," a b-boy who gains powers after discovering a mysterious pair of kicks, and "Hapa," a half-Korean intelligence agent (calling Daniel Henney!) with the chameleonlike ability to transform his features. But the hero we felt had the most interesting combination of originality and future potential was Tiffany's, and we look forward to seeing her at Comic-Con next week... look us up at booth 1735, Tiffany!
Again, thank you to everyone who entered. Tiffany won the Comic-Con pass, but everyone is still eligible for the main contest, which runs through the end of the month.

Again, we're challenging you to submit your own idea for a unique and original Asian American superhero. I'll pick the ten coolest submissions, then the Secret Identities editors will choose their three favorite heroes, each of whom will get their superhero idea rendered by a Secret Identities artist, and also receive a signed copy of the book.

Be creative, and have fun with this! To enter, please include a description of the hero (physical description, origin, powers, background, goals and nemesis) in 500 words or less. Thumbnail sketch optional. Email your entry, along with your contact info, to secretidentities@angryasianman.com by July 31. Winners will be announced on August 1.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Enter the "Build a Hero" Contest and Win Original Artwork & a Signed Copy of SI!


Cross posted at angry asian man

---

So... here's the part where we give away cool stuff. But you have to earn it. I've partnered up with Secret Identities to launch a very special contest. You've read the comics -- can you dream up your very own superhero?

We're challenging you to submit your own idea for a unique and original Asian American superhero. I'll pick the ten coolest submissions, then the Secret Identities editors will choose their three favorite heroes, each of whom will get their superhero idea rendered by a Secret Identities artist, and also receive a signed copy of the book.

Be creative, and have fun with this! To enter, please include a description of the hero (physical description, origin, powers, background, goals and nemesis) in 500 words or less. Thumbnail sketch optional. Email your entry, along with your contact info, to secretidentities@angryasianman.com by July 31. Winners will be announced on August 1.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Secret Identities Coast to Coast

In preparation for Secret Identities’ San Diego debut, anthology contributors will be out in full force on both coasts this weekend. First up, Jeff Yang will be joined by Walden Wong, Jimmy J. Aquino, Alexander Shen, Tanuj Chopra and Tiffanie Hwang for a book release party and signing at Giant Robot – San Francisco at 6pm on Thursday, July 16. Then, on Friday, July 17 at 7pm, Yang, Wong and other guests will be at the Salinas Public Library in Salinas, California for a special signing event.

On Saturday, July 18 in Baltimore, Maryland, Keith Chow, Jerry Ma, Alex Tarampi, John Franzese and Larry Hama will be hosted by Geppi’s Entertainment Museum beginning at 12:30pm. The museum presentation will be followed by a special signing event at Ukazoo Books in Towson, Maryland at 6pm that same day. Finally on Sunday, July 19 at 1pm, veteran DC and Marvel artist Greg LaRocque will be joining Hama and the Secret Identities team for a meet & greet and signing event at The Avenue’s Barnes & Noble in White Marsh, Maryland.

At our events in Baltimore, anyone who purchases a copy of SECRET IDENTITIES will automatically be entered into a contest to win a FREE PASS to an advanced screening of Paramount's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra!

Bernard Chang Battles Sean Chen on MTV

Last weekend at the Asian American ComiCon, folks from MTV Iggy stopped by to film some "drawing battles" between some of the industry's best artists. We had no idea what they were talking about. Of course, this is why they're professionals because what they got on film was awesome! First up is round one between BLVD studio mates Bernard Chang and Sean Chen:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SECRET IDENTITIES: THE ASIAN AMERICAN SUPERHERO ANTHOLOGY COMES TO SAN DIEGO WITH AN ALL-STAR LINEUP AT BOOTH #1735


Scheduled Appearances by Kelly Hu, Keiko Agena, Sonny Liew, Ming Doyle, Bernard Chang and More; also Offering an Exclusive, Limited Edition Litho by Cliff Chiang; and Jeff Yang Moderates a Panel featuring Dwayne McDuffie, Gail Simone, Jai Nitz, Stuart Moore and Gene Yang.

July 15, 2009—With Comic-Con International: San Diego just around the corner, the editors of Secret Identities, the groundbreaking Asian American superhero anthology, have announced a full schedule of signings at Epic Proportions Booth #1735.

Featuring some of the creative talent behind the stories in Secret Identities, these appearances give fans the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in comics, television and film!


Leading off the signing schedule at 12:30pm on Thursday, July 23 is the team behind “The Blue Scorpion & Chung,” Gene Yang (The Eternal Smile) and Sonny Liew (Liquid City). On Friday, July 24, the “Learn to Share” creative team of actress Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls) and artist Ming Doyle (Comic Book Tattoo) will be signing from 2pm to 4pm. Superstar actress Kelly Hu (X2: X-Men United) and superstar artist Cliff Chiang (Green Arrow & Black Canary) are scheduled for Saturday, July 25 at 2pm. In addition, SIUniverse Media will be offering a convention exclusive lithograph of the Kelly Hu-created character JIA, featuring art by Cliff Chiang. Finally, “The Citizen” artist extraordinaire Bernard Chang (Wonder Woman) and "Agent Orange" artist Dustin Nguyen (Detective Comics) wrap up the show on Sunday, July 26 at 2pm.


The editors of Secret IdentitiesJeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Mawill also be available at Booth #1735 for the duration of the convention. However, the Secret Identities presence at Comic-Con extends well beyond a single booth. The following SI-affiliated artists and creators will be at their own booths throughout the convention center:


  • Bernard Chang (#1821)
  • Cliff Chiang (#1322)
  • Martin Hsu (#G-02)
  • Benton Jew (#EE-02)
  • Kazu Kibuishi (#2329)
  • Sonny Liew (#2329)
  • Dustin Nguyen (#FF-04)
  • Vince Sunico (#GG-18)
  • Francis Tsai (#2629 & #1415)
  • Anthony Wu (#2329)
  • Gene Yang (#AA-4)


To celebrate the gathering of so many contributors in one place, fans can participate in a special Secret Identities Scavenger Hunt! Anyone who has purchased a copy of Secret Identities and is able to collect verifiable signatures/sketches from each of the listed contributors will be entitled to a special prize at the Secret Identities booth!


In addition to celebrity signings and scavenger hunts, Secret Identities Editor-in-Chief Jeff Yang will be moderating a unique panel titled Four Color Reality: Making Comics Relevant to Readers Across Cultures in Room 3 on Friday, July 24 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Panelists include Dwayne McDuffie (Milestone Comics, Justice League), Gail Simone (Wonder Woman), Gene Yang (American Born Chinese), Stuart Moore (Wolverine: Noir, The 99) and Jai Nitz (Blue Beetle, El Diablo).


Panel Description:
Four Color Reality: Making Comics Relevant to Readers Across Cultures.
Comic book stories have become the core of American pop culture—is there a big-budget spectacular that doesn’t in some fashion owe its existence to comic book roots these days? But sales of traditional-format comic books themselves have been in decline for years. This panel explores one reason for this shrinking market: the divergence between the identities of mainstream comic icons—who are typically straight, white, male and American—and the demographic makeup of a new generation of readers. How can the comic book industry connect with changing audiences—not just of diverse races and backgrounds, but of different cultural and national origins as well?