Sunday, March 29, 2009

Preview: "S.O.S." - Video 7 of 8 & Booktour '09 Kickoff!

"S.O.S." can be found on page 93 of "Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology" and is parody piece commentating on the topic of outsourcing. Visionary Raju "Bobby" Raval, founder of "Superhero Outsource Services" aka "S.O.S." provides a "super" support system for the thrifty Superhero in today's tough economy -- eliminating the costly hassles of sidekicks or extra team members.

Keep an eye out at the end for a certain ill-tempered, cowled knight - whose mood can be best described as "Dark" when Bobby Raval accidentally steps into the frame. Written by Tanuj Chopra and drawn by Alex Joon Kim, this wonderfully satirical piece is one of the many examples of how SECRET IDENTITIES highlights relevant, world issues by sometimes taking it to the absurd.

please stand by still This ends the preview trailers from me personally and was the one I had the most fun with. I kept crackin' up finding little places to slot in gems like adding the explosion during the whole 'cut the red/blue wire exchange', the cheesy yet appropriate Falcon Crest theme and then elevator music over the "Please Stand By" still.

And then I just went to town and got myself hoarse doing the whole shouting match at the end. It's not in the book but I kept staring at that last Batman panel I chose to end the video with and kept debating with myself: "Should I?" "Naw." "It'll be funny." "But it's not in the book." "Oh rebelscrew it, what the heck..."

You can see in the end credits the "movie magic" behind it. Basically I just printed out the panels, taped the Batman one to a dresser and Bobby onto a ruler (making him into a puppet to 'walk in'). I'm sure Greg Pak (from the last video) or Youtube's HappySlip would know how to really animate folks walking in -- but alas, I've got the editing software that came with my 6 year old computer. I'm pullin' out all the tricks Robert Rodriguez style!

I also had to make up for our big botch in the book -- we somehow left out artist, Alex Joon Kim's bio in the contributor's section! Anyway, check out the last preview next week when co-editor Keith Chow pieces his story -- "Peril" together! Then the fllowing week, I've got one last big 10 minute documentary to air that will delve into 95% of the book's stories and origins from interviews with the editors themselves.

This Monday, we kick off our booktour in the mid-west and share this thing face to face with actual copies of the book for the first time! Stop by if you're near!

Mon, March 30:
4:30pm - VONS Comics, West Lafayette, IN.

7:30pm - Purdue University in Fowler Hall, West Lafayette, IN

Tues, March 31:
7pm - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Noyes 100, Urbana, IL.

Wed, April 1:
1pm - Challengers Comics, Chicago, IL.

4pm - University of Illinois at Chicago

Thurs, April 2:
7pm - Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

The SI Masks And then from Apr 3-4, we'll be making an appearance at the MAASU Conference hosted by the University of Michigan with 600 stand-ins.

We made these cool postcards that also double as masks to stand in for us in our absence. Wish we were there to see 600 people walking around wearing these things! But maybe at this year's comic con in San Diego!

Front of SI MaskBack of SI Mask

Here, Avery models the front and back of these wearable postcards.

Btw, I didn't even tell her to pose that way for the first shot -- scary.

Time to make the donutscompleted maasu masks1Then this shot of me is when all the fun pictures and excitment of smelling the shiny postcards died down and I slowly realized that I'd have to personally assemble and attach the elastic bands to six-hundred freakin' postcards!

Here's the completed batch before they were shipped out to Michigan. Wear them well next weekend, MAASU!

My hands have now contracted a very rare type of carpal tunnel syndrome classified as "Guerilla-Marketing-itis".

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Secret Identities Interview: Greg Pak

Everybody knows Greg Pak. Pak's success on titles such as Marvel's World War Hulk and Incredible Hercules has made him one of the most popular writers in the business. The crew of Secret Identities is proud to have Greg, and his partner in crimefighting Bernard Chang, be a part of the book with their excellent work on "The Citizen." (Check out the early concept sketch of the character on the left!)

Greg is also the subject of a short interstitial piece called "Re-directing Comics." Sort of our shout-out to Scott McCloud, Greg traverses through the panels of the book to speak directly to the reader. Below is the complete, unedited interview we did with Greg in preparation for the "Re-directing Comics" piece.

And speaking of interviews, check out the Greg's recent conversation with Matt Brady over at Newsarama!


SECRET IDENTITIES: First of all, how does being Asian American inform your work?
GREG PAK: Over the past few years, I've written about robots, monsters, mutants, aliens, renegades, demigods, African American cyborgs, persecuted German Jews, and Korean American teenagers. Looking back, I'm realizing that almost all of those characters are outsiders and outcasts of some kind or other. Now I'm a suburban kid from Dallas whose family and friends and community gave me all the support and every opportunity in the world. But growing up Asian and multiracial in America, I was aware of race and racism from a very young age. I knew some people would always see me as different. And no doubt that predisposed me to take an interest in the kinds of stories I'm writing today.

On another level, the very specific ways in which my family would communicate or not communicate has probably had a huge influence on my ear for dialogue and contributed to my interest in the idea that a huge amount can be said through what's not said. Of course, that silent communication comes as much from the German/English as the Korean side of my family. But all of that's part of my specific, multiracial, Asian American experience, and it probably echoes through just about everything I write.

So what does being an "Asian American comic creator" mean to you?
First and foremost, I'm just trying to tell the most compelling stories I can. But as an Asian American creator, I pay particular attention to the way I depict people of different backgrounds and I make a special effort to expand the diversity of the characters I work with. I've been pretty thrilled about the opportunity I've had to create Asian American characters at Marvel and in my creator-owned work (like the piece in this book!). And it was fun to be able to bring the Grace Park character to the foreground in the "Battlestar Galactica" series I wrote for Dynamite. But in a funny way, one the most obvious expressions of this interest in race and diversity might just be hiding in plain sight in the "Planet Hulk" epic I wrote for Marvel. In "Planet Hulk," the Green Goliath is exiled to a savage alien planet where he goes from slave to gladiator to rebel to conquering emperor. Along the way, he fights, then bonds with a group of alien gladiators whom everyone else sees as monsters. But all of these different aliens end up proving themselves -- even the Brood, who's a member of a species universally reviled as irredeemable killers. So behind this crazy sci-fi epic is an exploration and evisceration of racism. How 'bout them potatoes?

Some of the biggest names in the biz are Asian American, yet there are very few Asian characters of any significance. Why the discrepancy?
Most of the big name Asian Americans in comics are artists. But new characters are usually created by writers. As more Asian American writers hit the scene, I think there's a good chance we'll see more prominent Asian American characters.

Why is the superhero story a powerful metaphor for Asian American identity?
I'm probably bucking the conventional wisdom here, but I'm not sure I accept the premise of the question. I think the superhero genre has great power and attraction for many individual Asian American readers, including myself, but I see it more as fantasy than metaphor. And it's worth noting that a huge number of the Asian Americans working in comics aren't doing anything related to superheroes. They may indeed be brilliantly exploring questions of Asian American identity, but they're using different genres, from autobiography to quiet realism to manga influenced wackiness -- superheroes may not speak to their particular Asian American experiences at all.

But let me try to be a little more helpful here... To me, the superhero genre -- like the Western and the gangster story and the barbarian tale -- is all about the fantasy of power. We live in a world in which we sometimes feel more powerless with each passing day. The superhero story lets us imagine that an individual can make a difference, that irrational rules can be shattered, that force can be used fairly to bring justice to a corrupt world. Of course, the really great superhero stories actually challenge that fantasy of control. I think that's why the Hulk in particular is so compelling -- while he always gives us the visceral satisfaction of smashing the people we want him to smash, he always pays the price for his uncontrolled rage.

So why is the genre particularly compelling to certain Asian American readers? Maybe because we've been stigmatized like poor ol' Peter Parker as the nerds, the rejects, the outcasts. Or maybe, like some of the X-Men, we've clipped our own wings, suppressed our true talents in order to fit into the world that other people have crafted for us. Maybe we've suffered terrible injustice, and, like Batman, ache for revenge. Or maybe we've just been too silent, too quiet, and too fearful, and superhero stories help us prepare to stand up and speak out the next time. Or maybe we just dig the crazy costumes. In short, I'd guess that Asian Americans love superheroes for the same reasons everyone else does.

So what's the point, you might ask? Why bother talking about Asian American superheroes if Asian Americans dig superheroes the same way everyone else does? Because Daredevil is more compelling because he's Irish Catholic. Magneto's more compelling because he's a German Jewish Holocaust survivor. And the next great Asian American superhero will be more compelling because his or her background adds nuance and depth to his or her character. The diversity enriches the entire universe in which these stories play out and the specificity makes the characters more compelling and believable to everyone.

Then what makes an Asian American superhero different from other superheroes?
He or she is Asian American. And depending on the individual, that can mean anything or nothing at all. I'm all for as much variety as possible -- and for as few proscriptions as possible about what an Asian American superhero should or should not be. Every one of us is different -- Asian American superheroes should have just as much diversity.

A lot has been made about your creation and inclusion of Asian American characters (like Amadeus Cho) in the Marvel Universe. Was it important for you to have Asian Americans play important roles in your stories?
Absolutely. As an independent filmmaker, I knew that the only surefire way to get non-stereotypical Asian American characters on the big screen would be to put 'em up there myself. And it's the same thing in comics. I'm in a position to actually create these characters from time to time. If I didn't, what kind of bozo would I be if I ever complained again about the lack of Asian Americans in American pop culture?

Speaking of your career in film, how has being a filmmaker influenced you as a comic book writer?
I think it's helped me enormously. I had a lot to learn about the specific challenges of writing comics -- I'm learning something new every day. But my training as a filmmaker gave me a good foundation for visual storytelling as a comic book writer. But maybe the most unexpected influence my filmmaking background has had on my comics writing has been revealed through sound effects. I've always loved working with sound design in film -- I love the way the right sounds can almost subliminally smooth out a scene, make a transition work, or pump up the emotional impact. So in comics, I've had a lot of fun trying to reproduce some of the impact of a film effects track by manipulating the size and placements of printed sound effects to create transitions, subtle background noises, and, when necessary, chest-shaking, Dolby-powered, Mighty Marvel THRAKKADOOOMS!

Comics, baby. Gotta love 'em.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Bruce Lee Charity Sketch

cross-posted by Jerry Ma at his blog For What It's Worth.

So I have done another Bruce Lee sketch on the inside cover of a copy of Secret Identities. This sketch was done for a charity of a much smaller scale, but still a good one regardless. This drawing was done for my friend Ren Hsieh, who runs a basketball league called FastBreak.

But I’ve donated this sketch inside the book, along with a Bruce Lee t-shirt that I designed “Super Fly”. There will be raffle tickets purchased for a number of prizes. And all the proceeds go towards a Youth Basketball League. Ren is trying to raise enough money so that all the kids won’t have to pay money to play in the league. Growing up as a kid, I never had the money to play in these organized leagues and would have loved a guy like Ren for doing this.

Here is the info for the RockBand party he is throwing for the event.
Host: Fastbreak NYC
Type: Party - Benefit
Network: Global

Date: Sunday, March 29, 2009
Time: 2:00pm - 9:00pm
Street: 135 W 41st Street, Basement
City/Town: New York, NY
So cheers to you Ren. Hope this drawing, book and t shirt help achieve your goal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Social Networking, Secret Identities Style

Yes, Secret Identities is taking over the internets!

Because we're so tech-savvy, it makes sense to consolidate all our Web 2.0/social media/following/please-friend-us sites in one place. So if you're so inclined, make sure you visit us on one of the following websites:

RSS Feed

And though we're not on Twitter yet, you know it's only a matter of time...

DRIVING STEEL:Character Sketches

Cross-posted by Benton Jew at bentonsblog:

Here are a few sketches I did for Jeff Yang's "Driving Steel" story in the upcoming anthology Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology. Out in stores April 15!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

cross-posted by Jerry Ma at his blog, For What It's Worth.

So I’ve had the honor of doing a sketch on the inside cover of a copy of Secret Identities for a silent auction hosted by The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

I’m hoping this copy goes for more than the cover price ($21.95) with my little doodle inside it. Here is a copy of the sketch I did.

I chose to do a Bruce Lee drawing as at least for me, he has been something of a inspirational figure. Not to mention that back when I did more sketches at comic conventions, I was getting pretty popular for doing these.

Anyway, here’s to the book raising some money for a good cause.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

PREVIEW: "The Citizen" - Video 6 of 8

"THE CITIZEN" can be found on page 56 of "Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology".

The story follows Frank Murakawa, a Sergeant from the Arizona National Guard who was exposed to unknown chemicals during a training accident endowing him with amazing abilities -- turning him into... THE CITIZEN.

Incarcerated for attempting to arrest the former President of the United States for war crimes, The Citizen finds himself released from prison by the new Commander-in-Chief, enlisting his help.

Director and Marvel writer, Greg Pak (Incredible Hercules, World War Hulk, Skaar: Son of Hulk) wrote the story and directed/edited the trailer. The art was provided by Bernard Chang (X-Men, Deadpool, Wonder Woman). Visit: and

Book/Comic store info:
ISBN: 9781595583987
Diamond: JAN094645D

Sunday, March 15, 2009

PREVIEW: "A Day at CostumeCO." - Video 5 of 8 & Bonus Video

"A Day at CostumeCO." can be found on page 135 of "Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology".

The story follows a Super Mom (both literally and figuratively) as she juggles a hectic outing with her family at the local superhero, big-box store outfitter, CostumeCO.

S.I. Editor in Chief, Jeff Yang provided the words and A.L. Baroza the art. Try to spot a cameo appearance from a certain 6-clawed mutant!

To pass the link around, go here.

Also, below is a bonus video of the making of "A Day at CostumeCo." This was the first trial attempt at these "motion comix" 5 months ago to see what was feasible, etc. At the end, you'll also see what my daughter Avery picked up from these vids.

I used the mic from a telephone headset, voiced all the characters (male & female) and cut it all under 45 minutes. No b.g. music, no sound effects , didn't even bother to take out the mouse 'clicks' of me starting and stopping the recording.

I'd like to think that I've come a long way since then:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Newsarama Interviews Tak Toyoshima

Newsarama just posted a video interview with the one and only Tak Toyoshima. In it, Tak talks about the pressure involved in putting out his daily comic strip, Secret Asian Man, especially as newspapers are dying out left and right. Oh, and he plugs a little book called Secret Identities. I've heard good things about that.

Since their vids aren't embeddable, go here to check it out.

And while you're there, check out Newsarama's NYCC interviews with other Secret Identities-affiliated creators Cliff Chiang and Greg Pak.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Secret Identities in Publishers Weekly

Anne Ishii has an essay about Secret Identities in the March 10 edition of Publishers Weekly Comics Week. An excerpt of the article is below, but click here to read the whole thing.


Secret Identities Revealed
by Anne Ishii

Secret Identities is an ambitious comics anthology which sets out to find or create more Asian-American superheroes; to balance a status quo of “white” super men who are disproportionately depicted, inked, given voice and color (ahem) by Asian-American artists. A popular question posed in the anthology and at the eponymous discussion panel at the 2009 New York Comic-Con: "Why are there so many Asian-American writers and artists and so few Asian-American characters?"

We know the publisher’s answer (bad marketing), but Secret Identities isn’t ambitious for its attempts to answer easy questions. It is ambitious because of the inherent contradiction it confronts in its stated goals: to challenge racial bias and stereotype without pigeon-holing the single largest and diverse race on Earth; to show the Asian diaspora in all its girth and all its local unity. Its ambition is to be incredulous (“How dare you say that about us?”) without sounding indignant (“How dare you ignore us?”). And most importantly, enough’s enough for these guys.


Monday, March 9, 2009

PREVIEW: "The Blue Scorpion & Chung" - Video 4 of 8 , Now with Bonus Features!

"The Blue Scorpion & Chung" can be found on Page 63 of SECRET IDENTITIES: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.

National Book Finalist writer Gene Yang (American Born Chinese) and artist Sonny Liew (Liquid City) explore the "second-banana/manservant/sidekick" relationship inspired by the 1960's "Green Hornet & Kato" dynamic -- which has been ingrained into our pop culture zeitgeist ever since.

"... a standout longer contribution is Gene Yang and Sonny Liew's 'The Blue Scorpion and Chung'.."
- BOOKLIST, Ray Olson

To pass the link, find the video on YouTube here.

The end credits also include our current slate of S.I. tour stops. It's already a pretty darn long impressive scroll -- I can't believe that we're actually handling this stuff on our own.

Then at the last minute, I wanted to add an unscripted line into the piece before layering in the music, background noises and grabbed a camera to document the whole crazy process of these videos and can be seen below.

I think I have a disease -- I can't STOP making videos, even when I don't have to!

Anyway, I just started watching "Celebrity Apprentice" and basically decided to start DVR-ing it to crib ideas because the stuff they do on the show, is basically a strange parallel in what we're doing -- hustling for promotional ideas, making banners, calling in favors, drumming up attention for the product, setting up the tour, etc. And what was tonight's task for the celebs?


Now come on, man. That's just plain weird.

And finally, this weekend got to see SI contrib, Jamie Ford (Pg 37 - GAMAN) when his book tour for Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet swung through Cali!

The book is doing really well and already on its 4th printing!

Just goes to show how many talented guys and gals are in the pages of this anthology.

Wow, if we got even a smidgen of the success that Bitter and Sweet has seen...

Thursday, March 5, 2009


As promised—more video love, this time a look at the "Build a Hero" workshop that the SI Guys ran at this year's very well run ECAASU conference! Enjoy...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Our Heores Have Always Been Poets

Why are there so many posts on this blog?! I think our post count in March is going to exceed the entire output for 2008. It's like our book's coming out in a month, or something (in stores April 15!)

Anyway, Jerry, Parry and Jeff have already spread the ECAASU love, so let me pile on. Much love to the whole crew at Rutgers, but especially Fiona, Nilam, Caspar, Laurence, Chane, and Dave the Bodyguard(!) for treating us like rock stars the whole time. We sold a ton of bookplates and met a ton more awesome people. Thanks for the love and support you showed Secret Identities all weekend, and double thanks for pretending to know who the rest of us were when everyone else was making a beeline for Parry!

Also, big ups to Bao Phi, Giles Li and Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai for murdering the stage Saturday night. You guys were straight butter, baby! Seriously. (Thanks to Bao for the backstage photos).

mmm.... butter....

Check out more photos of the SI crew representing at ECAASU after the jump.
Chatting with Nilam and Laurence at our workshop. In the BG, Dave shows he's not just a bodyguard, he's a cameraman too!

Chillin' with Bao and Giles backstage before our keynote.

Kelly and Parry backstage

With the Angry Asian Man himself!

Jerry, dog-tired after sketching on bookplates till 2 in the morning. Oh yeah, and vodka shots.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New York Comic-Con '09: The Secret Identities Panel!

Secret Identities E.I.C. Jeff Yang here. I guess I'm the last SI Guy to post on this thing, so I might as well kick in here with this video, an edited-down "highlights version" of one of our two New York Comic-Con panels—the one focusing on the book itself, and featuring myself, E.A.L. Keith Chow, contributor Greg Pak, with an assist from his partner on "The Citizen" Bernard Chang, and Senior Artist Jef Castro. Providing insightful moderation of our little circus was Giant Robot's Anne Ishii, who'd just come off of moderating a previous panel on the manga version of Bat-Man that was published, well ahead of its time, in Japan in the late 1960s. did a nice writeup of the panel here.

And now, on to the video! (Parry's not the only guy with editin' chops around this here ranch, kids...okay, I suck compared to him, but still...represent!)

Big thanks to Keith's bro Raymond for manning the Canon HG10 for us on this one. Sadly, he wasn't around the following day, so I don't have any footage of the equally terrific panel I moderated called "The Multicultural Mask," featuring Stuart Moore (Iron Man; Firestorm), Perry Moore (Hero), Robert J. Walker (Delete), and Jann Jones (Coordinating Editor, DC Comics)—not to mention Greg Pak again, who pulled double duty for us at NYCC, all power to the Pak. However, a nice writeup on that panel is right here. And I'll see if I can find any still photos around somewhere.

Coming up next: A highlights version of our most excellent ECAASU workshop, which was videotaped in whole by our bodyguard/host representative Dave From Toronto. Very cool guy. Really helped keep the paparazzi at bay. Not that I, Jerry or Keith had to worry—the kidz all made a beeline for the man who put the bacon in BLT, our M.E. Parry...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Some Extra Stuff... now that Keith was able to talk me into blogging here...and I have my own blog too. So I'm just a blogging machine now.

I figured I should post some of the pgs that I personally drew for Secret Identities. So my actual title on this book is as Art Director. But I was able to draw two short stories as well.

One is "9066," which Jonathon Tsuei wrote. Attached here is both the pencil and inked version of the same pg.

I also drew the story "Wallpasser," which is written by Clarence Coo. Attached here is also a pencil and inked version of the same pg.

Not to sound redundant, but being apart of this book means so much to me. Opening up the submissions to everyone lets me believe that we are creating the heroes that you the reader have always wanted to see. And that is very special to me.

So be on the look out for us on tour. And ask your local stores for Secret Identities. Flood them with requests for the book. It comes out April 14! Help spread the word and make an impact.

Till next time.
-jerry ma

Secret Identities @ ECAASU'09

Hey guys, Jerry here. This is my first post on this blog. And I'm really happy that it's going to be about my first ECAASU.

This past weekend, myself and the editor crew got a very rare opportunity to just hang out together. Seriously, in the past 2-3 years we've been talking this is like....our 3rd time all meeting together at once. So that alone made it pretty cool.

But let me start from the beginning. About a week before ECAASU when we knew we were going and were going to try to sell a book...that we didn't have. We knew we had to offer everyone something. So we made a bookplate with an original drawing that I had done for it, that we could all sign on. The idea being that when people that preorder a book receive their copy, they could stick the bookplate(which is essentially a large sticker) on the inside cover and voila, they'd have a signed copy. The above image is what the bookplate actually looked like. So on each bookplate each editor signed it and I would do a quick doodle on the corner.

Anyway, while we were there we ran a workshop which consisted of about 50 or so students. We then broke the group up into 5 smaller groups. And each group then had about 20 minutes to collaborate with each other on creating an Asian American superhero. I was really pyshced at how serious the kids took this exercise. There was basically no goofing off.

While the students were coming up with ideas, we the editors walked around the class to give some tips here and there on what we would do. After the exercise was done, we held a vote to see which character was the best. And while Jeff, Parry and Keith were holding a Q&A, I was sketching out the winning character which we then raffled off to a lucky winner. And I believe Donna was her name. You know...I didn't even have the sense to take a picture of the sketch. So you'll have to trust me that it came out OK and that Donna actually liked it. haha

After the workshop, we then headed over to a theatre to give our keynote speech. This was truly more than I ever expected. We were speaking to a group that had to be around 1000 deep.
I've attached a few imgs that will definitely explain better than I can write on how cool the event actually was.


PREVIEW: "You Are What You Eat" -- Part 3 of 8

"You Are What You Eat" can be found on Page 116 of Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.

The story follows a bulimic teenage girl, Ting on her birthday. What she initially perceives as a "gift" from grandma to help with her eating disorder, in actuality begins to expose Ting towards discovering a healthy Yin/Yang balance of food -- with surprising effects.

"Y.A.W.Y.E." was written by Lynn Chen (Saving Face, Lakeview Terrace) and drawn by Paul Wei (Maxwell Wong).

To share the link, find it on YouTube here.

The book will be available in April 2009 -- or you can pre-order your copy today on

ALSO -- we just got back from an awesome weekend at ECAASU -- Jerry posted a great synopsis of our trip here where you can see we had our own personal 'bodyguard' shadowing us -- thanks Dave, you were the best!