Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology at NYCC

A partial shot of the Secret Identities crew. Photo courtesy of Keith Chow.
NYCC's Secret Identities panel on Saturday was an exciting moment for myself and everyone else at the con who was involved in the New Press graphic novel of the same name. Secret Identities editors Keith Chow and Jeff Yang, whom I'm standing behind in the above pic (Jeff's the one who's holding a not-quite-final copy of the novel), unveiled the official trailer for the novel and discussed the project at the panel, which kicked off a Secret Identities promotional tour. The novel will hit stores in mid-April and contain my comic book scriptwriting debut, "Sampler."

The standing-room-only crowd delighted us, but I was even more jazzed about how the audience consisted of readers of all races who are interested in our novel. That's a great sign. It means we've been doing something right. We created these stories for everyone to enjoy.

Like the creators of the Harold & Kumar flicks (yeah, those guys are white, but they understand what us Asian Americans have been going through), I wrote about a protagonist who happens to be Asian American, and I tried not to delve into identity politics too much, which is what a lot of pre-Harold & Kumar movies about young AAs would do as a response to past one-dimensional portrayals of AAs on the screen (and sometimes these films would counter that problem not very effectively or not very subtly). But at the same time, I wanted to insert little moments into "Sampler" in which the title heroine recognizes there's racism out there and she responds to it either with humor (she wears an "I suck at math" T-shirt) or--because this is the superhero genre--mucho bitchslapping.

Here I am sitting in the audience, talking to another Secret Identities contributor, Secret Asian Man creator Tak Toyoshima, before the beginning of the panel:

The audience at NYCC's Secret Identities panel. Photo courtesy of Keith Chow.
It was awesome to finally meet Tak, whose strip I've read for years. Tak's contribution to Secret Identities is an interstitial Q&A with legendary G.I. Joe and Wolverine comics writer Larry Hama.

Tak Toyoshima and Jimmy Aquino. Photo by Aquino.
Right after the Secret Identities panel, Tak and I saw an Asian guy in a Superman costume and an Asian woman in a Wonder Woman outfit posing for photos together--an amusing epilogue to the panel. I was disappointed that my camcorder somehow deleted my footage of Asian Supes and Asian WW. Apparently my camera's racist and it hates Asian superheroes.

I found a pic of the Supe posing with Jeff and Keith (Asian Supes' other identity is Bryan Nguyen)...

Jeff Yang, Asian Superman and Keith Chow. Photo courtesy of Chow.
... but I'm still looking for a shot of Asian Supes' scantily clad sidekick.

Jimmy Aquino and Greg Pak. Photo by Aquino.
At my left is multitalented Incredible Hercules writer and Robot Stories director Greg Pak, who scripted "The Citizen" for Secret Identities.

Anne Ishii and Jimmy Aquino. Photo by Aquino.
At my right is Giant Robot's Anne Ishii, who moderated the Secret Identities panel and is the first person to tell me she dug "Sampler." Later, Anne and I were stunned to discover we both were Banana Slugs who attended Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp at about the same time (we never crossed paths during our years at UCSC).

A full shot of the Secret Identities crew. Photo courtesy of Keith Chow.
A full shot of the Secret Identities crew after the panel discussion. Back row, left to right: Anne, moi, Greg, Ken Wong (writer of "Justified"), Jonathan Tsuei (writer of "9066"), Tak, Bernard Chang (illustrator of "The Citizen"), Larry Hama. Front row, left to right: Keith, Jeff, Sarah Sapang (illustrator of "16 Miles"), Jef Castro (illustrator of "Peril"), Alexander Tarampi (illustrator of "Gaman").

The Joker and the Monarch. Photo by Jimmy Aquino.
A Joker/Monarch team-up would rock a nerd's world.


  1. Look like you had fun out there with all those superstars. OMG, WW is fine! Keep up the great work man. I'll email you about a job soon. Like a front cover for a book.

  2. Congratulations on the book; I'll be looking for it...