Thursday, February 26, 2009
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.
REVEALING CHOW'S SECRET IDENTITY
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
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 Amazon.com. Here is the HQ link if you'd like to pass it around.
Friday, February 20, 2009
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
A full pdf version of the preface is viewable here: http://secretidentities.org/preview.pdf
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 Amazon.com 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
- 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 Ningin.com, 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!
- The blog New York City of Mike has a shot of Greg Pak from our panel on Saturday. Just scroll down. Greg's right beneath the guy in the Wesley Dodds Sandman costume and right before Unemployed Skeletor.
- 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.
- Over at channelAPA, there's a nice write-up about the book and panel, and they've embedded our trailer. But head over there to get another look at our favorite Asian American Superman. This time joined by the Asian American Wonder Woman!
- 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
Monday, February 9, 2009
So here's a crash course updating things with Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology:
(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.
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.
Secret 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.
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, AngryAsianMan.com
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!
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".
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".
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
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
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)
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...