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!

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