Faces of Asian America: Being a Comic Reviewer | #APAHM2014

loudlysilent

loudlysilent is a comic book reviewer for the website Geeked Out Nation — possibly the only Asian American comics reviewer in the Midwest — and a passionate advocate for the ongoing push to diversify comic books.

How do you see your role as a Comics Reviewer?

As a comics reviewer for Geeked Out Nation with a background in sociology, I’m a front-line observer of the ethnic diversity of characters in Marvel comics and movies (quick: name a Latino Avenger?).

I wish more comics had Asian American protagonists. I currently review X-Men (by Brian Wood) and Catwoman. I appreciate that X-Men’s cast has several characters who are connected with Asian identity, including Psylocke, Jubilee, and a baby named Shogo.

How has being an Asian American affected your life as a Comics Reviewer, or vice versa?

As far as I know, I’m the only Midwest-based writer for a comics reviews website who is Asian American. The lack of Asian voices around me, both on the page and in the industry, is a constant reminder that I’m in the numerical minority. Most of my friends in the comics community whom I’ve met via Twitter are white. I love everyone connected with 18 Million Rising, Hyphen Magazine, ALIST Magazine, KoreAm Journal, and Kollaboration, but I haven’t seen the topic of comics mentioned much. I’m grateful that the comics industry includes phenomenal writer Marjorie Liu, editor Sana Amanat, Canadian artist Marcus To, artist Kevin Wada, editor Daniel Ketchum, Steve Sunu, Albert Ching, and creators Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew.

The current state of comics prompts two glaring observations: The lack of Asian male protagonists, and the persistent association of being Asian with martial arts.

Currently in Marvel comics, female Asian non-villain characters include Kamala Khan, Nakia, Psylocke, Jubilee, Karima Shapandar, Surge, Karma, Armor, Sprite, Nico, Hazmat, Monica Chang, and Nature Girl, at least. Male Asian non-villain Marvel characters besides Sunfire and Shang-Chi I’ve seen in the past year: Mark (very minor character), Ran Shen (quickly turns villain), Jamir (Kamala’s brother), and Shogo (baby). Why it is more common to introduce a female Asian character than a male Asian character would be fascinating to ask comics creators.

While I applaud 18 Million Rising’s intent, I wasn’t excited about the recent push for a currently white character, Iron Fist, to be re-introduced as Asian American, because Iron Fist is a martial artist. We need to encourage the comics industry to stop perpetuating stereotypes. The comics industry needs Asian American protagonists who are not martial artists or geniuses.

Contact Info/Shameless Plugs?

Chat with me about anything: @loudlysilent, facebook.com/loudlysilent, loudlysilent.tumblr.com, and loudlysilent.com (yes, I always stylize the first letter as lowercase), and check out my gushing post, “4 Reasons Divergent is a Must-Watch“!

 

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