Historically in comics, infamous villains, including Fu Manchu and the Yellow Claw, have possessed stereotypical, yellowed physical features and unnervingly flat personalities. These characters joined the rogues’ gallery of one-dimensional Asian caricatures in popular culture.
“That is what Asian Americans had to face for generations,” Yang says to Comic Riffs. “What we don’t want to say is, ‘You can’t have Asian bad guys.’ We love Asian bad guys, just like we love Asian good guys in comics. We want to be shown as people, as beings with three dimensions, complicated histories and real motivations. We want to see what’s inside [these character’s] heads, and not what just happens when they’re rubbing their palms together and grinning maniacally.”
Last winter, the four editors holed up in a New York City hotel to work our their approach to “Shattered.” They homed in on the anthology’s theme. They penned “The Sacrifice” as the prologue, and divvied up each chapter according to their representation of five malevolent “demons” that they saw as Asian archetypes”: the Brute, the Temptress, the Brain, the Alien and the Manipulator.
“The reality we have as Asian Americans is shaped by the perceptions that others have of us,” Yang tells ‘Riffs. “It’s the stereotypes that persist across time and history that daunt us and continue to challenge us today. …
“A section of the book [deals] with images and stories that subvert, upend or otherwise twist, reinvent and renew, in some cases, those stereotypes in ways to what people usually think.”
“Shattered” includes contributions by such industry heavyweights asGene Yang (“American Born Chinese”), Larry Hama (G.I. Joe) andTakeshi Miyazawa (Runaways), as well as creators from other disciplines, like rapper Adam WarRock, slam poet Bao Phi and authorJamie Ford. And the stories run the gamut from the everyday to the historic, from realism to fantasy and horror; they include snapshots of an internment camp, a supernatural romance, a lousy day at school.