UPDATED (panel info has been added as well)
All week, the city of San Diego has been battening down the hatches in preparation for the flood of fanboys and fangirls inundating the streets tomorrow in time for Comic-Con.
San Diego Comic Con 2009 was a huge success and 153 lucky people walked away with their newly purchased copies of Secret Identities.
With each signing we had everyday, an artist sketched either an existing Asian Superhero or one in “Secret Identities” as a part of a collage/jam piece to be raffled off to one lucky winner at the end of the convention (although Snake Eyes gets a pass on the Asian theme since hey, it’s a Larry Hama original and “Asian Hulk” in the b.g. by Bernard Chang as well — unless Hulk scribe Greg Pak writes it into reality at Marvel?).
However in order to get an entry, folks needed to first show us at least 10 collected signatures in their copy of “SI” from the 22+ contributors spread throughout the convention.
In the end, 30 folks had collectively compiled over 300 signatures/sketches and the winner is… Cecil DeClaro or Orange, CA. So thanks to everyone for playing along and great meeting you all!
Thanks to all the artists who jammed on this: Bernard Chang, Jimmy Aquino, Benton Jew, Tiffanie Hwang, Jerry Ma, Ming Doyle, Larry Hama, Gene Yang, Walden Wong and Sonny Liew.
Thank you to everyone who has entered the Secret Identities Asian American superhero contest thus far. We got a handful of really strong submissions within the first twenty-four hours, and have a picked a winner for the San Diego Comic-Con guest pass giveaway portion of the contest. The winner is…
WILDSTYLE by Tiffany Namwong. A really cool, creative and thoughtful character. Here’s a (slightly edited) description of Tiffany’s winning hero:
Ratana Nantakarn is a teenaged Thai American girl, born into a struggling immigrant family, raised by television and saved from drug addiction by the only adult who’s been able to win over her trust: A Buddhist monk who encourages her nascent artistic skills, and helps her gain admission to a prestigious art academy. But after her mentor’s work with at-risk youth leads to run-ins with the “connected” local drug syndicate, an anonymous tip leads INS to revoke the monk’s visa and deport him back to Thailand. An enraged Ratana drops out of school, returning to the streets to try to find the thugs responsible for her mentor’s plight. In doing so, she finds another outlet for her artistic sensibilities, becoming the queen of the Los Angeles tagging scene. Ratana with a spray can on a dimly lit street is like a tiger in the jungle; she uses her artistic skills to feed her ego, but to feed herself she turns to petty crime, and soon falls back into the rabbit-hole of addiction.
Meanwhile, realizing that Ratana is on their trail, the same gangsters who arranged for her mentor’s disappearance decide to remove her from the equation as well. She escapes to Thailand after scamming an elderly man looking for a young escort for his summer vacation. She succeeds in locating her old teacher, too late to reconnect with him: He’d been working with a local charity continuing his work with troubled youth, but recently passed away of cancer.
Arjun Gautama, a young Indian American man who has spent the summer volunteering for the charity, tells her that the monk asked for her in his final moments, and gives her his ashes. Ratana takes them to the monk’s ancestral village hoping to find a suitable resting place for his remains. Instead, she finds a wrecked and empty hamlet, destroyed by drug lords, whose only surviving structure is the old, abandoned temple in which the monk once served.
In a fit of self-hatred and a desire to vent her frustrations over the fact that her mentor died without anyone to care for him or provide for his final respects, she impulsively pulls out her spray can and desecrates the shrine.
But the temple is not entirely empty: The holy place’s long-forgotten guardian spirit rises up out of its altar, calling forth a curse on the blaspheming human invader. Her life and soul are forfeit for her crime, and all seems lost – until the spirit of the old monk rises out of his ashes, and bids the guardian to hold.
The sin Ratana has committed cannot simply be forgiven. But the monk asks that she be given the opportunity – and the power – to earn that forgiveness, using her talent to redeem the crime she committed with that talent.
A great evil, the demon Maya, is attempting to build a dominion on Earth, having taken human form as a pop idol on the verge of superstardom, and enslaving youths with the addictive combination of her music and a devastating new drug.
To defeat Maya and her army of followers, Ratana is given the ability to bring her art to life…using human canvases: She must seek out and befriend a series of youths who are ripe to become “vessels” for Ratana’s power. Once these men and women have willingly made the decision to accept the burden, Ratana tattoos their backs the image of a creature and a holy mantra that transforms them into that creature – irrevocably, until Maya is destroyed.
Ratana’s mission takes her and Arjun – whose friendship she increasingly grows to depend on, until it evolves into something more – to Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and finally back to Los Angeles, seeking out new allies, while pursuing Maya and battling her host of demons, hoping to simultaneously save the world and put her own personal demons to rest.
Nice work, Tiffany. She has scored herself a guest pass to next week’s completely sold-out 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. Here’s a note from the Secret Identities editors explaining why they chose Wildstyle:
Tiffany’s entry impressed us on a number of levels. Her protagonist’s story was gritty and believable, and there was an authenticity to Wildstyle’s origin and powers – what they were and how she received them made sense, given her identity and cultural background. The story also scales up nicely, from the streets of L.A. to a globe-trotting quest to, well, a cosmic battle between ultimate good and ultimate evil; this narrative has a lot of texture and momentum, and could move forward in so many different ways. We also liked that Tiffany chose to include some personal relationships for her heroine – a mentor, who can continue to advise her from beyond the grave, and a love interest, or at least potential love interest, whom she grows to depend on but is afraid she’s putting into mortal danger. There’s a Whedonesque feel to Wildstyle, and we mean that as a huge compliment!
We liked the two runner-up hero submissions as well: Kevin Cheung’s “The Sneak,” a b-boy who gains powers after discovering a mysterious pair of kicks, and “Hapa,” a half-Korean intelligence agent (calling Daniel Henney!) with the chameleonlike ability to transform his features. But the hero we felt had the most interesting combination of originality and future potential was Tiffany’s, and we look forward to seeing her at Comic-Con next week… look us up at booth 1735, Tiffany!
Again, thank you to everyone who entered. Tiffany won the Comic-Con pass, but everyone is still eligible for the main contest, which runs through the end of the month.
Again, we’re challenging you to submit your own idea for a unique and original Asian American superhero. I’ll pick the ten coolest submissions, then the Secret Identities editors will choose their three favorite heroes, each of whom will get their superhero idea rendered by a Secret Identities artist, and also receive a signed copy of the book.
Be creative, and have fun with this! To enter, please include a description of the hero (physical description, origin, powers, background, goals and nemesis) in 500 words or less. Thumbnail sketch optional. Email your entry, along with your contact info, to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31. Winners will be announced on August 1.
Scheduled Appearances by Kelly Hu, Keiko Agena, Sonny Liew, Ming Doyle, Bernard Chang and More; also Offering an Exclusive, Limited Edition Litho by Cliff Chiang; and Jeff Yang Moderates a Panel featuring Dwayne McDuffie, Gail Simone, Jai Nitz, Stuart Moore and Gene Yang.
July 15, 2009—With Comic-Con International: San Diego just around the corner, the editors of Secret Identities, the groundbreaking Asian American superhero anthology, have announced a full schedule of signings at Epic Proportions’ Booth #1735.
Featuring some of the creative talent behind the stories in Secret Identities, these appearances give fans the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in comics, television and film!
Leading off the signing schedule at 12:30pm on Thursday, July 23 is the team behind “The Blue Scorpion & Chung,” Gene Yang (The Eternal Smile) and Sonny Liew (Liquid City). On Friday, July 24, the “Learn to Share” creative team of actress Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls) and artist Ming Doyle(Comic Book Tattoo) will be signing from 2pm to 4pm. Superstar actress Kelly Hu (X2: X-Men United) and superstar artist Cliff Chiang(Green Arrow & Black Canary) are scheduled for Saturday, July 25 at 2pm. In addition, SIUniverse Media will be offering a convention exclusive lithograph of the Kelly Hu-created character JIA,featuring art by Cliff Chiang. Finally, “The Citizen”artist extraordinaire Bernard Chang (Wonder Woman) and “Agent Orange” artist Dustin Nguyen (Detective Comics) wrap up the show on Sunday, July 26 at 2pm.
The editors of Secret Identities—Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma—will also be available at Booth #1735 for the duration of the convention. However, the Secret Identities presence at Comic-Con extends well beyond a single booth. The following SI-affiliated artists and creators will be at their own booths throughout the convention center:
Bernard Chang (#1821)
Cliff Chiang (#1322)
Martin Hsu (#G-02)
Benton Jew (#EE-02)
Kazu Kibuishi (#2329)
Sonny Liew (#2329)
Dustin Nguyen (#FF-04)
Vince Sunico (#GG-18)
Francis Tsai (#2629 & #1415)
Anthony Wu (#2329)
Gene Yang (#AA-4)
To celebrate the gathering of so many contributors in one place, fans can participate in a special Secret Identities Scavenger Hunt! Anyone who has purchased a copy of Secret Identities and is able to collect verifiable signatures/sketches from each of the listed contributors will be entitled to a special prize at the Secret Identities booth!
In addition to celebrity signings and scavenger hunts, Secret Identities Editor-in-Chief Jeff Yang will be moderating a unique panel titled Four Color Reality: Making Comics Relevant to Readers Across Cultures in Room 3 on Friday, July 24 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Panelists include Dwayne McDuffie (Milestone Comics, Justice League), Gail Simone (Wonder Woman), Gene Yang (American Born Chinese), Stuart Moore (Wolverine: Noir, The 99) and Jai Nitz (Blue Beetle, El Diablo).
Four Color Reality: Making Comics Relevant to Readers Across Cultures. Comic book stories have become the core of American pop culture—is there a big-budget spectacular that doesn’t in some fashion owe its existence to comic book roots these days? But sales of traditional-format comic books themselves have been in decline for years. This panel explores one reason for this shrinking market: the divergence between the identities of mainstream comic icons—who are typically straight, white, male and American—and the demographic makeup of a new generation of readers. How can the comic book industry connect with changing audiences—not just of diverse races and backgrounds, but of different cultural and national origins as well?