The Minority Militant, a Chicago blogger who's a fan of my webcomic The Palace, recently asked me to design a T-shirt for his Project X fund, which he'll use to "reward any independent film director or producer with an outstanding treatment that casts at least one lead role for an Asian American male or female."
Check out the evolution of my Project X shirt design.
Because Project X is about supporting Asian American cinema, I originally wanted to draw an image of the Minority Militant literally kicking the backside of a white actor who's in yellowface and dressed up as the very dated Charlie Chan, whom Hollywood studios keep threatening to revive every few years (last failed attempt: that time when 20th Century Fox tried to get Lucy Liu to star as Chan's granddaughter). The image of Chan with a foot in his ass had stemmed from an idea I've had for a teaser trailer for the Asian American private eye movie or TV series I always wanted to create, in case it would ever get greenlit. The trailer, which would be a sendup of Chan movies, would show a white actor as a Chan-esque character who's trying to reveal the killer in a roomful of suspects, but before the Chan-esque detective can finish his corny, Confucius quotation-laden summation, he gets run over by a car driven by the movie's real hero, whom the trailer announcer would describe as not being "the same old Asian detective played by a guy who's as Asian as a Dutch clog dancer."
I told TMM my initial concept for the Project X drawing, and he joked that he's non-violent, which gave me an idea for the pose that became part of the tee's final design. I based TMM's pose on the famous 1964 "By Any Means Necessary" photo of an armed Malcolm X peering through window curtains, which an Uzi-wielding KRS-One memorably imitated on the cover of Boogie Down Productions' By All Means Necessary album. But instead of a rifle or an Uzi, TMM is holding his preferred weapon, his blog, which is represented by a laptop.