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
Gene Luen Yang appears at Alachua County Library on Thursday January 26, 2012 at 6:30 PM!
Gene Luen Yang is a comic artist, graphic novelist and educator. He teaches computer science at a high school in Oakland, California. Mr. Yang’s interest in comics started in 5thgrade when he started reading and drawing them. It was further inspired in high school after he took a comics class.
In 2006, Mr. Yang was named a finalist for the National Book Award in the young people’s literature category for his graphic novel, American Born Chinese. This was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award. He also won the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award for young-adult literature for the same novel, a first for a graphic novel.
Mr. Yang’s other graphic novels include Prime Baby which addresses the topic of sibling rivalry with a science fiction twist, Eternal Smile with Derek Kirk Kim and Level-Up, illustrated by Thien Pham. One reviewer notes that Level-Up “confronts the tension between staying true to yourself on the one hand, and being committed to familial duty on the other.”
Join us for an evening with Mr. Yang on Thursday, January 26, @ 6:30 PM in Meeting Room A for a workshop on How to Make Comics and an opportunity to ask him about his work.
Alachua County Library
401 East University Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601
Gene Luen Yang signs at Flying Colors Comics on Saturday, January 28, 2012 from 1:00pm until 4:00pm!
Join us at Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff on Saturday January 28 at 1PM when we welcome back award-winning writer/cartoonist GENE LUEN YANG, the writer of AVATAR The Last Airbender: The Promise Volume One!
AVATAR The Last Airbender is enjoyed by millions of fans all over the world— and we’re thrilled to host this release event kicking off a new round of AVATAR graphic novels.
GENE LUEN YANG will be here to sign your copies of this new graphic novel. Flying Colors will have an exclusive special book plate that GENE will be signing!
Also, Flying Colors and Dark Horse Comics will be giving away a number of very cook AVATAR prizes, including a very limited edition AVATAR print, Art of AVATAR books— and a surprise or two!
So how can you win?
1) If you are under the age of 12, enter the Flying Colors/Dark Horse Comics AVATAR coloring contest! Details and entry forms available soon!
2) If you are over the age of 12, enter our first-ever COSPLAY Contest! Come as you favorite AVATAR character— or any other comics or animation character, for a chance to win.
It will be a party– and we invite you to be here for it!
Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff
2980 Treat Blvd (at Oak Grove Rd), Concord, CA 9451
Gene Luen Yang appears at Fantastic Comics in Berkeley on Saturday February 11, 2012 at 2pm to celebrate the release of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1! He will do a presentation titled Asian Americans, Airbenders, and Comics with a short signing afterward.
2026 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
With the conclusion of Nickelodeon’s popular television series Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) in 2008 legions of fans clamored to know what happened to its characters and whether or not the unresolved questions would ever be answered. In response Nickelodeon has teamed with Dark Horse Comics to produce a series of graphic novels featuring the further adventures of Avatar Aang and his friends picking up where the show left off and bridging the gap to the upcoming spinoff, The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra, which takes place 70 years after ATLA.
The first book in this new comic series, ATLA: The Promise, is set to release on January 25, 2012 and Dark Horse has graciously given Convention Scene an advance peek at the book. Written by critically acclaimed cartoonist Gene Luen Yang, the comic begins with an homage to the opening of each episode of ATLA, a brief explanation of the world built by series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino and a rundown of the main characters and events of the show. This is expedient because the main action of the comic picks up with the final shot of the show and dives into a heavily continuity-laden plot regarding the fallout of the war and Aang, Zuko, and the Earth King resolving the issue of Fire Nation colonies within the Earth Kingdom’s borders.
Yang presents a very complex problem with no easy solution but does so in a manner that is accessible to younger readers while not speaking down to older fans. There is a fine line for any writer looking to appeal to all-ages but Yang has walked it well for years garnering high praise and several awards for his own comics including Level Up, The Eternal Smile, and the indie darling American Born Chinese. While a vocal protestor of the film adaptation’s casting practices, Yang certainly proves himself a fan of the original series with spot-on characterizations of not only the main cast but secondary and tertiary characters as well. He also does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for themes and plots that have been revealed in the promotional material for Legend of Korra.
The ladies of Gurihiru Studios have been tapped for the artwork on this comic and their fun style blending Manga with conventional Western comics is very effective and reflects the feel of the original series. They capture the action scenes well and do a particularly good job of including Appa and Momo, Aang’s pet sky bison and bat-winged lemur respectively, as characters rather than set pieces, a difficult position for non-speaking roles. Veterans of ATLA already (they drew stories for Nickelodeon Magazine collected in Dark Horse’s ATLA: The Lost Adventures) the cast is presented as older while staying on model.
Overall this series will be a must-have for any fans of the show. It complements the original series perfectly and whets the appetite for the new spinoff. Be sure to ask your local comic shop to reserve a copy for you on January 25th!
Celebrated cartoonists Lark Pien, Jason Shiga, Thien Pham and Gene Luen Yang speak on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 6:30pm.
Guests’ work includes: American Born Chinese, Level Up, Empire State, and Mr. Elephanter.
This is an all-ages program. A book sale and signing follows the program.
Piedmont Branch Library
160 41st Street, Oakland, CA 94611
Gene Luen Yang writes on his blog:
On Saturday 11/5/2011, I’ll be presenting at the San Francisco Public Library. I’m going to talk about Asian Americans and the comics industry. I’ll also read from a few a my graphic novels and sharing some behind-the-scenes material from my upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender project!
Sat 11/05/2011, 1pm – 2:30pm
San Francisco Main Library
100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA
Gene Luen Yang, Wesley Yang, and Jeff Yang speak on Thursday October 6, 2011 from 6:30pm – 8pm at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA).
This fall, MOCA brings together three provocative voices in contemporary Asian American culture. Please join acclaimed graphic novelist Gene Yang (Level Up; The Eternal Smile; American Born Chinese), New York Magazine contributing editor Wesley Yang (“Paper Tigers”) and author and columnist Jeff Yang (The San Francisco Chronicle’s “Asian Pop”) – all of whom happen to share the same last name – for a candid, no-holds-
barred discussion on current trending topics including the evolving nature of Asian American identity, the challenges of Asian masculinity and the perils (and promise) of “tiger” parenting.
Gene Yang’s first book, American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel ever to be nominated for a National Book Award. His most recent graphic novel, Level Up looks at the struggle of a young boy to live up to the expectations of his late father, with the help of a quartet of guardian angels. geneyang.com
Wesley Yang’s New York Magazine feature “Paper Tigers” — exploring the traumatic effects of traditional Asian parenting on second-generation offspring — became one of the year’s most talked about articles; he’s currently working on a book on the topic for Harper Collins.
Jeff Yang, veteran culture critic and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, has been at the center of covering the sometimes-controversial issues that both Gene and Wesley have raised in their work.
Admission: Free and open to the public, courtesy of TARGET. RSVP required to email@example.com
Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
215 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013
Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, delivers the 14th annual Charlotte Zolotow Lecture on Wednesday evening, October 5, 7:30 p.m., at the Wisconsin Union Theater on the UW-Madison campus.
This is a free public lecture sponsored by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center and Friends of the CCBC.
Author/artist Gene Luen Yang won the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature for his graphic novel American Born Chinese (First Second / Roaring Brook Press, 2006). His other books for children and teens include The Eternal Smile (with Derek Kirk Kim, First Second / Roaring Brook Press 2009) and Prime Baby (Roaring Brook Press, 2010). He has also written and spoken extensively on graphic novels as an art form and as a resource for educators in the classroom.
Wisconsin Union Theater
800 Langdon Street, Madison, WI
Gene Luen Yang and Lark Piem discuss and sign copies of their new book, Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists on Monday October 24, 2011 at 7:00 PM.
Barnes & Noble
Bay Street-Emeryville, 5604 Bay Street, Emeryville, CA 94608