Secret Identities @ NYCC

We made our official debut Saturday at New York Comic Con, and it was a blast! Our panel, moderated by the incomparable Anne Ishii, was a resounding success. Not only did we play to an SRO crowd (folks were literally spilling out into the hallway!), but a lot of us got to meet SI contributors in person for the first time. Check out some of the photos from NYCC (click on the thumbnails below to see the hi-rez pics):

Ladies and gentlemen, your Secret Identities crew! Back row l to r: Anne Ishii (panel moderator), Jimmy Aquino (writer, “Sampler”), Greg Pak (writer, “The Citizen”), Ken Wong (writer, “Justified”), Jonathan Tsuei (writer, “9066”), Tak Toyoshima (writer/artist, “S.A.M. Meets Larry Hama”), Bernard Chang (artist, “The Citizen”), Larry Hama (Legendary). Front row l to r: Keith Chow (Editor-at-Large), Jeff Yang (Editor-in-Chief), Sarah Sapang (artist, “16 Miles”), Jef Castro (artist, “Peril”), Alexander Tarampi (artist, “Gaman”).

This pic, taken ten minutes before the panel started, doesn’t do the audience turnout justice. Once we got started, there wasn’t an empty seat (or empty spot on the back wall) in the room!

Kickin’ it at the Epic Props booth.

Look! Up at the Con! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Jeff and Keith with the Asian American Superman! Props to Bryan Nguyen (who’s even rockin’ the Dean Cain costume, no less!)

Larry Hama and Tak Toyoshima wanted to reenact a scene from “S.A.M. Meets Larry Hama,” but the lovely Kang Suh waitress was pouring everyone glasses of OB and soju; so obviously, our priorities were elsewhere.

“Kampai!” Left to right: Larry Hama, Tak Toyoshima, Cliff Chiang, Jenny Lee, Jeff Yang, and Keith Chow.
Yes, we’re posing in front of a giant acupuncture and herbs billboard.

NYCC Update

With NYCC only only two days away, here’s an update on where you can find Secret Identities this weekend!

First, here are some updated details on the previously announced panels we’ll be headlining:

  • On Saturday’s 1:30PM “Asian Americans and Superheroes: Secret Identities” panel in Room 1A18, SI editor-in-chief Jeff Yang and editor-at-large Keith Chow will be joined by artist Jef Castro (“Peril”), and Greg Pak & Bernard Chang (creative team of “The Citizen”). The panel will be moderated by Anne Ishii and will also feature the world premiere of the first Secret Identities trailer. (Room 1A18)
  • Sunday’s 11:15AM “The Multicultural Mask” panel, moderated by Jeff Yang, will feature Greg Pak, Jann Jones, Danielle O’Brien, Perry Moore, Stuart Moore, and Robert J. Walker. (Room 1A17)

And here’s where you can find a few of the SI-affiliated creators in Artist Alley:

BERNARD CHANG (Artist Alley) A8
BILLY TAN (Artist Alley) B13
CLIFF CHIANG (Artist Alley) J18
DUSTIN NGUYEN (Artist Alley) K8
GREG LAROCQUE (Artist Alley) M5
(Greg LaRocque will also be at the Exiled Studio booth #2177.)

Finally, make sure you visit Art Director Jerry Ma (and buy a t-shirt or two) at the Epic Proportions booth #1908!

See you in New York…

Derek Kirk Kim on "The Last Airbender" Casting

Cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim (who isn’t in Secret Identities, though we wanted him badly–there’s always a chance for Volume 2!) has a brilliant post on his blog about the casting of M. Night Shyamalan’s live action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

While this post isn’t necessarily about the book, it does indirectly illustrate why Secret Identities is so important.

Quick primer if you’re unfamiliar: Paramount is producing a live action adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon; however, it is populating the film with Caucasian actors. Why is this problematic? Well, anyone familiar with the show knows that the setting, characters, and mythology are heavily influenced by Asian cultures. Needless to say, there are a lot of people who are not happy with these developments.

Read Derek’s post, and make sure to leave your name in his comment thread.

UPDATE: Our very own Jeff Yang chimes in on “Avatar-gate” at his “Asian Pop” column over at Award-winning cartoonist, and Secret Identities contributor, Gene Yang shares his thoughts on his blog as well.

Our PREVIEWS Listing

If you recently cracked open a recent copy of the January PREVIEWS, you might have seen a familiar entry under their “Books” section. Moreover, Secret Identities (item code: JAN094645) is a “Featured Item” in the January PREVIEWS, and you can see our listing online here. So make sure to visit your local area comic shop and have them order you a copy today.

Check out the solicitation text below:

Secret Identities: The Asian-American Superhero Anthology
by Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow, & Jerry Ma

This groundbreaking anthology brings together top Asian American creators in the comics industry — including Gene Yang (American Born Chinese), Bernard Chang (Wonder Woman), Greg Pak (The Hulk), Sonny Liew (the upcoming Liquid City; Vertigo’s My Faith in Frankie), Greg LaRocque (The Flash), Christine Norrie (Black Canary Wedding Special), and Francis Tsai (Heroes for Hire) — as well as new and established creators from film, television, and literature, to craft original graphical short stories set in a compelling “shadow history” of our country: from the building of the railroads to the Japanese American internment, atomic bombings, the Vietnam airlifts, the murder of Vincent Chin, and the groundless incarceration of Dr. Wen Ho Lee.

SC, 8×10, 200pgs, b&w with FC pages* SRP: $21.95
Item Code: JAN094645

*some of the specs in the original solicit text were incorrect and have been fixed here.

NYCC Announces Panel Lineup

Happy New Year everyone! Now that it’s 2009, let the Secret Identities hype commence.

The fine folks at New York Comic Con have just announced the majority of their panels at this year’s con. And guess who got invited to the party.

For those of you planning to attend NYCC, make sure you’re there on Saturday, February 7 at 1:30PM, and make sure you stop by Room 1A18 to check out a panel called ASIAN AMERICANS & SUPER HEROES: SECRET IDENTITIES featuring the fine editors and contributors to the groundbreaking anthology.

And if you stick around through the weekend, Secret Identities Editor-in-Chief Jeff Yang will be moderating a panel called THE MULTICULTURAL MASK on Sunday, February 8 at 11:15AM in Room 1A17. This panel will bring together creators who stand out as pioneers of the new inclusiveness in comics to talk about what works, what doesn’t, and why it matters — from both a cultural and economic perspective.


We’re Official…

Check out our page at The New Press!

Right now, you can’t pre-order directly from TNP’s website, but you can log on to Amazon and find us there, too.

Also, keep checking this page for updates. There might be some surprises lurking in the wings…

The Secret Identities Interview: Greg LaRocque

From his start at Marvel in the early 80s on books such as Web of Spider-Man and Power Man & Iron Fist to his legendary runs on two of DC Comics’ most iconic titles—Legion of Super-Heroes with Paul Levitz and The Flash with Mark Waid—Greg LaRocque’s art is synonymous with some of the most iconic stories in modern comics. Since the mid-1990s, when he formed Exiled Studio, Greg has been steadily churning out critically acclaimed series such as The Exiled and Cry Baby. His latest, The Dreaming, will be out in February.

Having been partly responsible for one of DC’s most prominent Asian American characters—Wally West’s love interest, Linda Park, it was a no-brainer to have Greg join the SIUniverse. For SECRET IDENTITIES, the legendary artist contributed a story called “TRINITY,” about three super-powered individuals that share a mysterious connection, and features LaRocque’s first Filipino superheroine.

We recently sat down with Greg to talk about his participation in the book and to share his thoughts on being an Asian American creator in the comics biz.


SECRET IDENTITIES: So, how does it feel to be a part of the book?
I was excited about creating my own character. I can’t recall to my memory any Filipino characters in mainstream American comic books. I’ve traveled to the Philippines quite a few times and know of the long tradition of comics over there. The background behind “Trinity” really started with me wanting to do a story about the great injustice during WWII when Filipino guerrillas who had fought alongside American soldiers were promised [but denied] U.S. citizenship.

What does it mean to be an Asian American creator in the comics industry?
You know, I can’t say there’s been anything that I could attribute to that feeling. Being a creator is such an individual thing. It’s not like I necessarily draw on Filipino culture in my stories. It’s strange, though, that if you go back to some of my work—like Legion, Flash and Fighting American, all three had a female co-star that was Asian.

Why do you think there’s such a struggle to have Asian American representation in other forms of media, if not necessarily in comics?
I remember the days when the series Kung Fu was on television. It starred David Carradine, but it was created by and for Bruce Lee. They would not do the series with him because of his Chinese blood. So, I think the money people [in movies and TV] look for the person that has the “broadest” appeal. Of course we have Asians in entertainment, but who’s at the top? Jackie Chan? There isn’t that much opportunity for Asian actors to make a dent in the industry. With comic books, you can hide behind your work. I compare comics to the music or sports industry. As long as you can produce, [you’ll have a job.]

There are plenty of minorities in the business, but yet there’s still a lack of any significant comic book heroes of color. Why is that?
The bottom line is money. It’s the same reason why it’s so hard to push a female superheroine. [The mainstream comic companies] are making business decisions to “play it safe.” When the independent scene exploded, though, there are [a lot more chances] for creators to be given opportunites that weren’t available to them years ago.

That said, you were the artist that first drew Linda Park, who’s arguably one of the more prominent Asian American characters in mainstream comics.
I can only guess at this point since I never talked about it with Mark [Waid], but I think the trend at the time was to just be more diverse. I think story tellers nowadays have progressed as much as our culture has progressed. If you look back at the stereotypical cartoons of Asians in the past, these moves were made to bring more diversity to the books. And comics, going back to Marvel and Stan Lee, have always had that history of introducing ideas we’d never seen before. It was just the next step forward.

And Linda was a byproduct of that progress?
Yeah. I can give you a little trivia on Linda. The look of Linda Park was based on my wife, who’s Filipina [unlike Linda who is Korean American]. Though Mark had created her personality seperately, it was like he knew my wife! Here’s the thing about Filipina women. They take a backseat to no one. They are the heads of the family. I mean, who else has elected two women presidents?


For more of our interview with Greg LaRocque, be sure to pick up a copy of SECRET IDENTITIES: THE ASIAN AMERICAN SUPERHERO ANTHOLOGY, in stores April 2009 from The New Press!

The Lineup!

Here it is, your official peek at the SECRET IDENTITIES roster! Below you will find a table of contents of the main features of the book.


IN THE BEGINNING (PREFACE): Story by Jeff Yang; art by Jef Castro

–DRIVING STEEL: Story by Jeff Yang; art by Benton Jew
–SAM MEETS LARRY HAMA by Tak Toyoshima

–INTERSTITIAL by Parry Shen; art by Alex Tarampi

–9066: Story by Jonathan Tsuei; art by Jerry Ma
–HEROES WITHOUT A COUNTRY: Story by Daniel Jai Lee; art by Vince Sunico
–GAMAN: Story by Jamie Ford; art by Alex Tarampi
–THE HIBAKUSHA: Story by Parry Shen; art by Glenn Urieta

–REDIRECTING COMICS: GREG PAK by Keith Chow; art by A.L. Baroza
–THE CITIZEN: Story by Greg Pak; art by Bernard Chang
–SIDEKICKS: YANG + KANG by Keith Chow; art by A.L. Baroza
–THE BLUE SCORPION & CHUNG: Story by Gene Yang; art by Sonny Liew
–JAMES: Story by Michael Kang; art by Erwin Haya

–INTERSTITIAL by Jason Sperber; art by Chi-Yun Lau

–FEATURING: AGENT ORANGE by Dustin Nguyen & Dustin Nguyen; JIA by Kelly Hu & Cliff Chiang; GAZE by Sung Kang, Billy Tan, & Walden Wong; FLIGHT by Ian Kim; CATACLYSM by Yul Kwon & Deodato Pangandoyon; SHINE by Leonardo Nam & Anthony Tan; GO by Kazu Kibuishi; and PARALLEL PENNY by Anthony Wu

–INTERSTITIAL by Keith Chow; art by Chi-Yun Lau

–NOW THERE’S SOMETHING: GREG LAROCQUE by Keith Chow; art by Alexander Shen
–TRINITY: Story and art by Greg LaRocque
–NO EXIT: Story by Naeem Mohaiemen; art by Glenn Urieta
–THE WALLPASSER: Story by Clarence Coo; art by Jerry Ma
–TWILIGHT: Story by Ted Chung & Anuj Shrestha; art by Anuj Shrestha
–S.O.S.: Story by Tanuj Chopra; art by Alex Joon Kim

–INTERSTITIAL by Kripa Joshi

–YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: Story by Lynn Chen; art by Paul Wei
–SAMPLER: Story by Jimmy Aquino; art by Erwin Haya
–LEARN TO SHARE: Story by Keiko Agena; art by Ming Doyle
–A DAY AT COSTUMECO: Story by Jeff Yang; art by A.L. Baroza
–SUPERGRRL by Hellen Jo

–INTERSTITIAL by Raymond Sohn

–DAVID KIM: Story by John Kuramoto; art by Christine Norrie
–MEET JOE: Story by Koji Steven Sakai; art by John Franzese
–ON THE THIRD DAY: Story and art by Johann Choi
–LONG, THE DRAGON BOY: Story and art by Martin Hsu
–JUSTIFIED: Story by Ken Wong; art by Tiffanie Hwang
–JUST ORDINARY: Story by Nick Huang; art by Alexander Shen

–INTERSTITIAL by Parry Shen; art by Jeremy Arambulo

–16 MILES: Story by Parry Shen; art by Sarah Sapang
–TAKING BACK TROY: Story by Jeff Yang; art by Francis Tsai
–PERIL: Story by Keith Chow; art by Jef Castro