Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Rewind: The Year of Secret Identities, Part Three

As promised, we're continuing our end-of-the-year recap focusing on Springtime in the SI Universe. After spending a good portion of April doing media appearances, including events at NYU and Williams College--and, as documented yesterday, a swing through some awesome schools in Illinois and Indiana--the month of May was one major event after another. I think it had something to do with May being Asian American Heritage Month.

I don't think having the book published close to APA month was a coincidence. I mean, what better time to showcase Asian American superheroes than Asian American Heritage Month, right? The month included a slew of press, including an extensive feature on the State Department's official website America.gov! We also launched the first of six special Teacher Guides (the rest of which will be released throughout 2010).

We also kicked off the month-long festivities attending Free Comic Book Day in Baltimore with Greg LaRocque and on a wet, wet Sunday in New York City for the 30th annual A/PA Heritage Festival. Despite the torrential downpour, we had the opportunity to meet a ton of people and make new fans. The CAPA fest wasn't our only major appearance in New York, however. For the entire month, original artwork was on display in the Time Life building on Sixth Avenue. The gallery was meant to promote a special reception and panel held on May 21 and presented by Time Inc's Asian American Association. In addition to myself, Jeff & Jerry, we were joined on the panel by SI Senior Artist Jef Castro, and comic superstar artists Christine Norrie and Cliff Chiang. The whole thing was expertly moderated by DC/Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote.

Check out photos from the panel on Facebook.

A few days later, the six of us were joined by the Man himself, G.I. Joe creator and living legend Larry Hama, for a special signing at the world famous Midtown Comics in Times Square. Facebook photos available here. The website Pop Culture Shock was there to capture the whole thing on video:

A week later, we capped off APA month with a whirlwind weekend of events in and around Los Angeles. Basically, if you were a bookstore or library in Southern California, chances are, somebody from Secret Identities was there! Outside of San Diego Comic-Con, I'm pretty sure our main event at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo was the biggest gathering of Secret Identities contributors ever. Jerry's excellent recap -- with some great candid photos -- of the weekend can be read at his blog here.

And that does it for April and May. But we weren't finished quite yet because Summer = Convention season! And not only did we have a presence at the trifecta of Comic-Cons (i.e., New York, San Diego, and Baltimore), we decided to throw our own Asian American ComiCon too! Read all about it next time!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Rewind: The Year of Secret Identities, Part Two

We've been looking back on the events and milestones that made 2009 the year of the SI Universe. Last week's post focused on the beginning of the year and our debut appearances at NYCC and ECAASU. Today, we'll focus on the the launch of the book and our swings through Chicago and the midwest.

While the first part of the year was all about getting hyped for the publication of the book on April 15, the press and promotion we did January-March paled in comparison to the seemingly endless touring and appearances that made up most of April and May. We kicked the whole thing off on March 30 in West Lafayette, IN at Purdue University. Joined by the illustrious (and Lafayette homeboy) Bernard Chang, our first college visit and workshop was a rousing success! The next day, we hopped in the car for the 2 hour drive to Champaign, IL to speak at the University of Illinois. In addition to a lunchtime discussion and evening workshop, we were also interviewed by the local public radio program "Afternoon Magazine" (which you can hear here -- beginning about five minutes into the program in the link). Of course, there's no rest for the wicked, so we packed up and headed straight to the city of Chicago for a midday signing event at the totally awesome comic shop Challengers Comics + Conversation followed by a presentation at the University of Illinois-Chicago that evening. We were also given the great honor of guest lecturing at Professor Schaafsma's American Studies class while we were at UIC. Finally, we wrapped up our tour through the Big Ten a few miles north of Chicago at Northwestern University in Evanston. By then, the three of us were pretty exhausted after visiting four schools, and driving hundreds of miles, in four days... as you can probably tell by watching this promo we shot for TurtlistMedia after our Northwestern gig:

I mean, I was so tired, I got the website's name wrong! (Sorry, Jason!)

And that was the end of our swing through the Midwest (though Parry loved Chicago so much, he came back a week later to speak at Columbia College!) Of course, April was also the month in which the book finally came out, and so I can't forget the fact that on its pub date, we got a nice little promo on ABC News, intro'd by Charlie Gibson himself!

While I planned to include our NY and LA launches in this post, I think they deserve their own. So check back tomorrow to hear about our events at the Time Life building in NYC and the Japanese American National Museum in LA.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Rewind: The Year of Secret Identities, Part One

Over the next few days, we're going to be looking back on the events and milestones that made 2009 the year of the SI Universe. Today, we'll focus on the first part of the year that led up to the launch of Secret Identities in April.

Although Secret Identities had been gestating in one form or another since mid-2006, it's hard to believe the enormity of the fact that what started out simply as an idea finally became an actual book sitting on shelves in stores across the country in 2009. And what a year it's been! We kicked off the year with many sleepless nights. In fact, I think it's safe to say that Art Director Jerry Ma and EIC Jeff Yang rang in 2009 in sleep-deprived state since they were editing and designing pages up to the very last second so that the book go to press on time. But January is when the reality that Secret Identities was finally coming to light set in since we were a Featured Item in that month's Previews and retailers could start ordering the book for their stores. But that was only the beginning...

Two big events bookended the month of February: New York Comic-Con and the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference. The S.I. crew made our official debut on a specially dedicated, standing-room-only panel at NYCC. Moderated by Publishers Weekly's Anne Ishii, the panel featured S.I. contribs Greg Pak, Bernard Chang and Jef Castro, in addition to myself and Jeff Yang. We also debuted the first official "trailer" for the book, edited by the one and only Parry Shen. In fact, Parry had so much fun cutting that video together, he went on to direct a dozen more, all available on our official YouTube channel.

As great a success as Comic-Con was, it paled in comparison to the reception we got a few weeks later at the ECAASU conference held at Rutgers! With Parry flying in from L.A., ECAASU marked the first time the whole editorial crew was together in public. But more than that, the love we got from the students in attendance was overwhelming. From our morning workshop to the keynote address we delivered in front of a crowd of hundreds in a packed theater, we had a blast meeting fans and making friends at ECAASU. It felt like coming home. To paraphrase the Mountain Brothers, "our community, it's what we live for."

I think the biggest shock we had at ECAASU was the fact that we sold a ton of books there... even though the book wouldn't be available for two more months! Ostensibly, the students in attendance bought a huge sticker in lieu of having the actual book (though slickly designed by Jerry, it was a sticker nonetheless.) Still, the kids at ECAASU are definitely considered the "early adopters" of Secret Identities! In fact, the show of support we received at ECAASU directly led to a massive influx of "fans" to our Facebook page. So thank you, Rutgers!

I think it was at ECAASU, at like 3AM when we were still selling bookplates, that we all decided we were all a part of something special. And as the pub date of April 15 drew even closer, we were just getting started...

Next time... The SI Crew reps the Chi and the Midwest... Gets in an Empire state of mind for it's New York launch... and feels the California love in Los Angeles...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Interview of Epic Proportions

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen this interview posted already. But what's one more place, huh?

I sat down with my man Jerry Ma over at PopCultureShock.com to talk shop. We discuss everything from Jerry starting Epic Proportions, joining Secret Identities and charming the ladies. If you haven't seen it already, check it out here!

And after you read the piece, head on over to Epic Proportions and enter "KEITHCHOW" in the promo code field and receive $3 off any t-shirt purchased through the site. That's right. I'm a coupon, yo!