The Museum of Chinese in America is pleased to announce the launch of two new exhibitions exploring the relationship between Asian Americans and comic books – Marvels and Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 and Alt.Comics: Asian American Artists Reinvent the Comic Book, on view from September 27, 2012 through February 24, 2013. The opening reception will be on Thursday September 27, 2012 from 6:00 – 8:00pm.
Recently donated to the NYU Fales Library & Special Collection, Marvels and Monsters is drawn from what is widely considered the world’s largest archive of comic books featuring images of Asian and Americans, painstakingly collected over four turbulent decades (1940s to 1980s) by science fiction author and cultural studies scholar William F. Wu. The compilation offers a unique glimpse into America’s evolving racial and cultural sensibilities, as depicted by wartime images of racist propaganda and xenophobic anxiety over Chinese immigration to lasting archetypes which continue to define America’s perception of Asians today.
According to curator Jeff Yang, “All of the key elements that have shaped who we are as a people have occurred during this time: Pearl Harbor, Japanese internment camps, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, ethnic enclaves, the Asian American rights movement, and the economic rise of Japan and China. What Wu has done is to collect images shaped by political forces to tell a narrative of how America views Asians.”
Marvels and Monsters is a selection of the most indelible images from Wu’s collection, placed within a historical context and juxtaposed with insights from contemporary Asian American writers and artists Ken Chen, Larry Hama, David Henry Hwang, Vijay Prashad, and Gene Luen Yang. The exhibition also incorporates elements meant to encourage direct engagement with the archetypes, such as life-size cutouts allowing visitors to put themselves “inside the image” and an installation called “Shades of Yellow” which matches the shades used for Asian skin tones in the comics with their garish Pantone TM color equivalents.
Alt.Comics extends the conversation of Marvels & Monsters into the present, showcasing the efforts of Asian American artists to establish a new and authentic identity by subverting stereotypes and juxtaposing disparate images. The exhibition focuses on alternative and independent comic spaces, particularly in the hubs of San Francisco and New York, which produced many of the most prominent artists in the independent scene. The exhibition features work by: Larry Hama, Alex Joon Kim, Derek Kirk Kim, Jerry Ma, Christine Norrie, Thien Pham, Lark Pien, Jason Shiga, GB Tran, and Gene Luen Yang.
This exhibition includes excerpts from Secret Identities Volume 2: Shattered, a follow-up to the groundbreaking compilation using the comic format “to upend, re-envision, re-imagine – to shatter – the distorted and negative images that have shadowed Asian Americans since the earliest days of our arrival in this country.” The Secret Identities component includes the work of: Jeremy Arambulo, Jef Castro, Louie Chin, Johann Choi, Ming Doyle, Robin Ha, Kripa Joshi, Eric Kim, Alice Meichi Li, Jerry Ma, Jamie Noguchi, Saumin Patel, Tak Toyoshima, GB Tran, Glenn Urieta, and DaFu Yu.
Marvels & Monsters is curated by Jeff Yang and organized by the A/P/A Institute at NYU. It was originally exhibited at NYU Fales Library, and was recently shown at the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia. Alt.Comics is curated by Jeff Yang for the Museum of Chinese in America.
These exhibitions are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (Museums Program), celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support is provided by Museum members.
About William F. Wu, Collector
Nominated five times for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, William F. Wu has published over a dozen novels, including the best-selling 1996 STAR WARS: Tales from Jabba’s Palace and Avon’s young adult SF series Isaac Asimov’s Robots in Time. His most acclaimed book, Hong on the Range, was chosen for the Wilson Library Bulletin’s list of science fiction “Books Too Good To Miss,” a selection for the American Library Association list of Best Books for Young People, the New York Public Library’s Recommended Books for the Teen Age, and was also a Young Adult Editor’s Choice by Booklist. A prolific short story writer, Wu’s works have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies; his short story “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium” was a multiple award nominee that was adapted into an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone. He has a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation, published in book form as The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American Fiction, 1850-1940 (Archon Books, 1982).
About Jeff Yang, Curator
Jeff Yang began reading and collecting comics at the age of eight, and hasn’t allowed distractions like adulthood, marriage and fatherhood to deter him since. He has written the column “Asian Pop” for the San Francisco Chronicle for the past six years, and penned a series of acclaimed and bestselling books — Eastern Standard Time; I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (the action icon’s official autobiography); Once Upon a Time in China; and, most recently, the seminal graphic novel collection Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology. He began his career as founding editor and publisher of the pioneering Asian American periodical A. Magazine and as a cultural critic for New York’s alternative weekly the Village Voice. He can frequently be heard as a contributor on NPR’s Tell Me More, PRI’s The Takeaway, and other public radio programs. He, his wife Heather and his sons Hudson and Skyler live in Brooklyn, New York. He writes a column for the Wall Street Journal online called Tao Jones.
About Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
MOCA’s mission is to celebrate the living history of the Chinese experience in America, to inspire our diverse communities to contribute to America’s evolving cultural narrative and civil society, and to empower and bridge our communities across generations, ethnicities and geography through our dynamic stories.
MOCA is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution that presents the living history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of Chinese Americans through exhibitions, educational services and public programs. It began in 1980 as the community-based New York Chinatown History Project founded by community and student activists led by historian John Kuo Wei Tchen and Charles Lai. It has since grown to encompass the stories and journeys of the many communities of Chinese America, both in the New York Metro area and across the U.S., including new immigrants and established multi-generation families.
Since late 2009, when MOCA moved into its new space, designed by Maya Lin and located at the crossroads of Soho and Chinatown, its exhibitions, programs and audiences have grown in size and scope. This was made possible by a unique public/private partnership between collaborative government efforts to rebuild Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11 and MOCA’s growing community of donors led by its Board of Trustees. Currently, MOCA’s family consists of its many visitors, members, scholars, artists, activists, and families with young children as well as a growing base of young professionals, business leaders and entrepreneurs. For more info and upcoming events, please visit www.mocanyc.org.
The Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013
Larry Hama, Christine Norrie, Greg Pak, Tak Toyoshima, and GB Tran appear at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 from 6-9pm!
Beyond The Funny Pages: Comics, Culture and Communication Panel
The panel focuses on applications of comic art in venues beyond entertainment — from politics to preservation of history to a new language for instruction. The panel features those who are subverting or pushing the boundaries of the form such as Larry Hama, Christine Norrie, Greg Pak, Tak Toyoshima and GB Tran. Moderated by Jeff Yang.
Larry Hama is a cartoonist, illustrator, writer, actor, and musician who has worked in the fields of entertainment and publishing since the 1960s. While Hama has worked on numerous projects, he is best known to American comic book readers as a writer and editor for Marvel Comics, where he wrote the licensed comic book series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, and created the “file cards” on the backs of the Hasbro G.I. Joe toy packages. The comic ran 155 issues (February 1982-October 1994). He has also written for the series Wolverine, Avengers, Batman, Conan, The Punisher, Blaze, Nth Man, and Elektra. He created the character Bucky O’Hare, which was developed into a comic book, a toy line and television cartoon. Most recently, Hama is the writer of the Barack the Barbarian series, a Conan the Barbarian parody starring United States President Barack Obama. For more information about Larry Hama, please visit the A/P/A Institute homepage: www.apa.nyu.edu
Christine Norrie is an artist and writer of graphic novels and comic books. Her first major work, Hopeless Savages, was an indie hit with the first series nominated for an Eisner Award. Noted books are her original graphic novel Cheat and the teen drama Breaking Up. She has been published by major and independent companies including DC Comics, Oni Press, and Scholastic Books. She is also an illustrator and designer in advertising, fashion, and print. She has created book jackets for Abrams, concepts and storyboards for Andrew Zuckerman, and art for Glamour and Courvoisier. She lives in New York City’s Greenwich Village with her daughter.
Greg Pak is an award-winning comic book writer and filmmaker best known for the feature film “Robot Stories” and comics storylines such as “Planet Hulk,” “Incredible Hercules” (co-written with Fred Van Lente and co-starring Pak’s creation, Amadeus Cho), and “Magneto Testament.” Pak was named one of 25 Filmmakers to Watch by Filmmaker Magazine, described as “a talent with a future” by the New York Times, and named “Breakout Talent” of the year by Wizard Magazine. He is currently writing “Alpha Flight” (with Van Lente) and “Astonishing X-Men” for Marvel and “Dead Man’s Run” for Aspen and Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla. For more about Pak’s work, please visit www.gregpak.com twitter.com/gregpak and gplus.to/gregpak.
Tak Toyoshima is the creator/illustrator of Secret Asian Man comics. Since 1999, Tak has been creating strips that examine race, politics, religion, Star Wars nerds and anything else that gets people’s undies in a bunch. In 2007, Secret Asian Man became the first nationally syndicated comic strip featuring an Asian American lead character when it was signed by United Features.
GB Tran is a Brooklyn cartoonist/illustrator whose new graphic memoir Vietnamerica details his family’s journey of survival through the Vietnam War and their refugee migration to the US. Vietnamerica has been featured on ABC’s World News Now, Kirkus’ “12 Can’t-Miss Graphic Novels of 2011″, and Amazon’s Top 25 Adult Summer Reads. The book, which Library Journal describes as “Engaging, challenging, and disturbing, Tran’s family memoir belongs in all public and academic libraries”, has also recently earned GB a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in nonfiction literature. For a preview of Vietnamerica, additional comics, and his illustration work, visit gbtran.com.
Jeff Yang began reading and collecting comics at the age of eight, and hasn’t allowed distractions like adulthood, marriage and fatherhood to deter him since. He wrote the column “Asian Pop” for the San Francisco Chronicle for six years, and penned a series of acclaimed and bestselling books — Eastern Standard Time; I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (the action icon’s official autobiography); Once Upon a Time in China; and, most recently, the seminal graphic novel collection Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology. He began his career as founding editor and publisher of the pioneering Asian American periodical A. Magazine and as a cultural critic for New York’s alternative weekly the Village Voice. He can frequently be heard as a contributor on NPR’s Tell Me More, PRI’s The Takeaway, and other public radio programs. His column can be found at: www.sfgate.com/columns/asianpop/archive/
A/P/A Institute at NYU
7th Floor Gallery, 41-51 E. 11th Street, New York, NY
Join rising talent GB Tran and the MoCCA community for a special event on Thursday January 27, 2011 at 7pm—the launch of GB’s incredible graphic memoir, VIETNAMERICA: A Family’s Journey, a new, full-color hardcover from Villard Books.
As part of MoCCA’s acclaimed MoCCA Thursdays series, GB will discuss the core of VIETNAMERICA the story behind his family’s survival and escape during the Vietnam War, their reinvention as refugees in the United States, and his own discovery about how the past we don’t know can shape and define us. A book signing will follow a Q&A session. Free wine will be served.
Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
594 Broadway, Suite 401, New York, NY 10012
(btwn. Houston and Prince)