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:
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?