Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Pulse Interviews SI Editor-at-Large Keith Chow

Jen Contino of The Pulse recently interviewed Secret Identities' Editor-at-Large Keith Chow.

The two speak at length about how Keith got involved in the project and why an anthology of Asian American superheroes is necessary. An excerpt of the interview is below, but click here to read the whole thing.

by Jennifer M. Contino

When Keith Chow and some of his peers noticed the lack in Asian American characters in comic books, they decided to do something about it! Thus, Secret Identities was born. Chow described the collection of comics from Asian American creators as mostly a "passion project." Chow told THE PULSE, "The notion of having a 'secret identity' is something that I suspect a lot of people can identify with. You know that mild-mannered guy in the cubicle next to you? Yeah, after work, it turns out he's an underground breakdancer or something. And I think for Asian Americans, the analogy is even more potent. Because for a lot of us, the idea of a shifting identity is an issue that we deal with on a daily basis."

THE PULSE: Some of our readers might be meeting you for the first time in this interview. I know you're a lifelong comic book fan, but how did you turn the tables and go from someone who enjoyed reading comics to someone who is now making comics?

KEITH CHOW: It's true that I've been a fan of comics since I was a kid, but I never actively pursued a career in comics. It just kind of happened. Sure, I always had my own ideas for comic stories (and if and when Bruce Wayne ever returns, I'm still full of ideas for Batman! Are you listening, DC?), but I didn't think I'd actually get the opportunity to see my original work in print.

THE PULSE: So just what is Secret Identities -- aside from something just about every superhero has?

CHOW: Simply put, Secret Identities is a passion project for everyone involved. Basically, a bunch of us observed that there were a lot of Asian American writers and artists in the industry, but there weren't a lot of Asian American characters, especially in superhero comics. So we set out to rectify that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

PREVIEW: "9066" -- Part 2 of 8

"9066" is preview video 2 of 8 and is found on Page 25 of Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.

The story centers around a Japanese American superhero who is sent into an internment camp after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor -- using his authority as Commander-in-Chief to exercise war powers to send ethnic groups to internment camps. The order ultimately led to the internment of 120,000 ethnic Japanese people for the duration of the war. Of the Japanese interned, 62 percent were Nisei (American-born, second-generation Japanese American) or Sansei (third-generation Japanese American) and the rest were Issei (Japanese immigrants and resident aliens, first-generation Japanese American).

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt was opposed to Executive Order 9066 and spoke privately many times with her husband, but was unsuccessful in convincing him not to sign it.

Executive Order 9066 was finally rescinded by Gerald Ford on February 19, 1976. On November 21, 1989, George H.W. Bush signed an appropriation bill authorizing payments to be paid out between 1990 and 1998. In 1990, surviving internees began to receive individual redress payments of $20,000 and a letter of apology.

"9066" was written by Jonathan Tseui and drawn by Jerry Ma -- and is one of the several "shadow history" pieces in the book inspired by actual historic events pertaining to Asians in America.

The book will be available in April 2009 -- or you can pre-order your copy today on
Here is the HQ link if you'd like to pass it around.


Friday, February 20, 2009

ECAASU 2009 -- Rutgers University

Attention college students!

If you plan on attending the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference at Rutgers University next weekend, make sure you sign up for a special workshop headed up by the editors of Secret Identities on Saturday, February 28 at 3:00PM! That's right, Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow, and Jerry Ma under one roof!

We'll also be delivering one of the keynote addresses at 8PM that evening. While you're at the conference, be sure to pre-order the book! Pre-order forms should be available, and everyone who orders a copy will be entitled to a signed bookplate and a chance to meet all the editors!

To learn more about ECAASU 2009, whose theme is "Distinct Worlds, One Vision," check out the official website.

We'll see you there!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This story serves as the preface to SECRET IDENTITIES and can be found on page 7 of the book. It details a fun behind the scenes look into the how's & why's the book came to existence. It answers how the editors all met and explains why this particular anthology, right now.

A full pdf version of the preface is viewable here:

And here's the High Quality link if you'd like to pass it around.

SECRET IDENTITIES will be available in stores, April 2009 from The New Press but you may pre-order your copy at today!

"In the Beginning" - Story by: Jeff Yang, Art by: Jef Castro -- is part 1 of 8 trailer story videos scheduled to be released.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Link Round-Up

Though New York Comic Con is firmly in the rear view mirror, that doesn't mean people aren't still blogging about it! So, since we're all Secret Identities, all the time, let's see what folks around the Internets are saying about our time in New York:
  • First off, our very own Jimmy Aquino ("Sampler") made it all the way from California to be with us in New York. While there, he even met the other Jimmy Aquino, and, miraculously, the multiverse didn't implode!
  • We were fortunate enough to meet Mia from, and she had plenty of kind words to say post-panel. Don't believe me? Well, Mia reiterates many of those kind words on her blog, too.
  • Jonathan at Elmcitytree stopped by our panel on Saturday and gives some of his thoughts on it and where Asian Americans stand in the issue of race in America. Plus, he poses a very thought-provoking question that I actually wish he brought up at the panel!
  • Another photo, for which you'll have to get your scrolling on, features the whole SI crew (at least those of us who made it to the panel) and is available at Publisher's Weekly Comics Week. If it looks familiar, it's because it was taken at the same time as this one.
  • Finally, Chelsea over at Wednesday's Child shared some of her thoughts about the Multicultural Mask panel moderated by Jeff Yang.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Extended Trailer

Since it kind of got buried behind the jump in Parry's trip down memory lane, we wanted to put the extended trailer here at the top of the page. If you attended the panel at NYCC, you'll notice that it's a bit different than the one we premiered (aside from the fact that you can, ya know, hear this one, of course!) Enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

SECRET IDENTITIES Catchup & Official Trailer

cross-posted at

So here's a crash course updating things with Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology:

SI Board 2 marked off Nov/Dec 2008:

As the completed stories came in one by one, I would cross them off my corkboard (simulated in the photo on the left via photoshop as I can't seem to find the real picture I took).

And believe me, it was extremely gratifying "x-ing" off that last story.

But that was only the start of another part of the machine -- now we had dig deep into our personal rolodexes to get some notable folks in the comic, academic and literary worlds to blurb some kind words about our book to give us some street cred.

ulcer In the midst of all that though, I got a bleeding ulcer (where basically blood is coming out of orifices that it shouldn't be), I lost about 3 pints of blood and was hospitalized for 4 days up until Thanksgiving. So I had to chill finding blurbers for a bit for the first 3 days of my stay -- but on the last day, I was told the source of the ulcer was bacterial and not stress related! So I powered up the phone/computer and started the search again!

I remember having to type on my laptop with one hand at one point because I had an IV in the other arm. I totally felt like Phoebe in "Friends" in that alternate world episode where she's a super-workaholic but the holidays were fast approaching and we needed to get some good wordage on the book jacket before we went to the printers -- which we did:

Good fiction opens a window into truth. And really good fiction opens a window into truths you haven’t seen or thought of or understood before. This book is a new window on a rarely seen side of the American experience.Take a look through it.You’ll be surprised.

—Walter Simonson, writer/artist of Manhunter, Thor, and Orion

blurbsSecret Identities has hit upon one of those truths that feels surprising only because no one thought of it sooner: that our culture's superhero template dovetails uncannily with Asian American issues and identity.

—David Henry Hwang, Playwright – M. Butterfly, Golden Child

These artists show how we can be funny and witty and profound all at once, turning stereotypes inside out and upside down to create new images that empower individuals to write the scripts of their own lives.A classic on the level of Maus and The Dark Knight Returns, this is a comic book every Asian American teenager needs to read, every Asian American adult should buy, and every person of any background will appreciate.—Frank H. Wu, author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White

This book will acquaint new audiences to the Asian American experience, and inspire younger generations to explore their own history, identity and culture. —Irene Hirano Inouye, executive advisor, Japanese American National Museum

At long last, the Asian American superheroes I've always wanted. Make no mistake, these are geeky comic book stories. But they're OUR geeky comic book stories. And that makes all the difference.—Phil Yu,

The trope of the mask and disguise works well when representing Asian Americans… as does the notion that we can choose our own masks to wear and remove at will.—Elaine H. Kim, Professor of Asian American Studies, UC Berkeley

I still can't believe we got some of the folks that we got -- JIM 'Freakin' LEE!


Jan 2009:

Then fast forward to a few weeks ago -- and we received the galleys - which are bound photocopied pages of the book sent to be sent out to reviewers - also called Advance Reader Copies (ARC's). Now these versions still have typos in them as reviewers publishing lead times are usually months in advance -- too narrow of a window for publishers to get everything done perfectly in time. It's even printed on them "Uncorrected Page Proofs - do not reprint without approval".

Hibakusha 16 Miles

Then we got in the Blues, which are pages as close to the real thing before actually getting the real thing. This is pretty much the last chance you get to proof things before the mass printing of the book takes place.

gallery blues

Feb 2009:And that brings us to the present -- after months of deliberation, we finally locked down a cover! Now usually the publisher gets the final say regarding what the cover will look like but the designer assigned to us was pretty cool in hearing our thoughts out. Take a look at the various incarnations from the oldest to the newest version (left to right, top to bottom):

So the large cover on the right will be the lime goodness that will be wrapped around the baby we've been gestating for the past 2 years.

The tough part was figuring out what image to stick in the lenses. Being an anthology, there really wasn't any one particular "main" character, so our art director, Jerry Ma mocked up this collage from 6 different stories -- overlapped they look like one cohesive piece and solved the problem nicely.

I think once we got away from the idea of having single individual images in the lenses got us on the right track.

Then this weekend we had a standing room only panel at the New York ComicCon with folks spilling out the room and the NYCC trailer made it's debut. Unfortunately, the audio on the speakers weren't working but what needed to get seen was seen.

Back row l to r: Anne Ishii (panel moderator), Jimmy Aquino (writer, "Sampler"), Greg Pak (writer, "The Citizen"), Ken Wong (writer, "Justified"), Jonathan Tsuei (writer, "9066"), Tak Toyoshima (writer/artist, "S.A.M. Meets Larry Hama"), Bernard Chang (artist, "The Citizen"), Larry Hama (Legendary). Front row l to r: Keith Chow (Editor-at-Large), Jeff Yang (Editor-in-Chief), Sarah Sapang (artist, "16 Miles" -one of my stories!), Jef Castro (artist, "Peril"), Alexander Tarampi (artist, "Gaman").

And then SI editors, Jeff Yang and Keith Chow somehow even got even got an Asian American Superhero to hold the finished product in his steel-bending hands.

If you told me growing up, that someday I would have a graphic comic book published and held in the hands of a man wearing his underwear over tights in public amongst thousands of people -- I would have said, "Pinch me".

Now with the book being about 8 weeks away from officially hitting stores --- the promotional whirlwind is in full swing! As usual, not a lot of money to advertise/promote - but since when does that stop anyone, right? So it's time to dust off the old BLT-grassroots skill sets once again! So the reason I've been so lame on updating is that my time's been taken up editing promotional trailers/story previews -- where I'll be editing a select story panel by panel and having actor friends and myself voice the word balloons and add music, sound effects, etc. The good news is that for the next eight weeks, I'll have something to show you all... the bad news is - I hope I can keep up the pace without getting a stress-related ulcer this time.

So to kick off the first of 9 (planned) promotional videos -- please enjoy the official trailer of SECRET IDENTITIES: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, in stores April 2009. Pre-order your copy here!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Secret Identities @ NYCC

We made our official debut Saturday at New York Comic Con, and it was a blast! Our panel, moderated by the incomparable Anne Ishii, was a resounding success. Not only did we play to an SRO crowd (folks were literally spilling out into the hallway!), but a lot of us got to meet SI contributors in person for the first time. Check out some of the photos from NYCC (click on the thumbnails below to see the hi-rez pics):

Ladies and gentlemen, your Secret Identities crew! Back row l to r: Anne Ishii (panel moderator), Jimmy Aquino (writer, "Sampler"), Greg Pak (writer, "The Citizen"), Ken Wong (writer, "Justified"), Jonathan Tsuei (writer, "9066"), Tak Toyoshima (writer/artist, "S.A.M. Meets Larry Hama"), Bernard Chang (artist, "The Citizen"), Larry Hama (Legendary). Front row l to r: Keith Chow (Editor-at-Large), Jeff Yang (Editor-in-Chief), Sarah Sapang (artist, "16 Miles"), Jef Castro (artist, "Peril"), Alexander Tarampi (artist, "Gaman").

This pic, taken ten minutes before the panel started, doesn't do the audience turnout justice. Once we got started, there wasn't an empty seat (or empty spot on the back wall) in the room!

Kickin' it at the Epic Props booth.

Look! Up at the Con! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Jeff and Keith with the Asian American Superman! Props to Bryan Nguyen (who's even rockin' the Dean Cain costume, no less!)

Larry Hama and Tak Toyoshima wanted to reenact a scene from "S.A.M. Meets Larry Hama," but the lovely Kang Suh waitress was pouring everyone glasses of OB and soju; so obviously, our priorities were elsewhere.

"Kampai!" Left to right: Larry Hama, Tak Toyoshima, Cliff Chiang, Jenny Lee, Jeff Yang, and Keith Chow.

Yes, we're posing in front of a giant acupuncture and herbs billboard.

Secret Identities: The Exclusive NYCC Trailer

Here's the exclusive NYCC trailer for Secret Identities that debuted during our panel on Saturday. Now with audio!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

NYCC Update

With NYCC only only two days away, here's an update on where you can find Secret Identities this weekend!

First, here are some updated details on the previously announced panels we'll be headlining:
  • On Saturday's 1:30PM "Asian Americans and Superheroes: Secret Identities" panel in Room 1A18, SI editor-in-chief Jeff Yang and editor-at-large Keith Chow will be joined by artist Jef Castro ("Peril"), and Greg Pak & Bernard Chang (creative team of "The Citizen"). The panel will be moderated by Anne Ishii and will also feature the world premiere of the first Secret Identities trailer. (Room 1A18)
  • Sunday's 11:15AM "The Multicultural Mask" panel, moderated by Jeff Yang, will feature Greg Pak, Jann Jones, Danielle O'Brien, Perry Moore, Stuart Moore, and Robert J. Walker. (Room 1A17)
And here's where you can find a few of the SI-affiliated creators in Artist Alley:

BERNARD CHANG (Artist Alley) A8
BILLY TAN (Artist Alley) B13
CLIFF CHIANG (Artist Alley) J18
DUSTIN NGUYEN (Artist Alley) K8
GREG LAROCQUE (Artist Alley) M5
(Greg LaRocque will also be at the Exiled Studio booth #2177.)

Finally, make sure you visit Art Director Jerry Ma (and buy a t-shirt or two) at the Epic Proportions booth #1908!

See you in New York...