INTERVIEW: Gene Luen Yang and Bernard Chang On Bringing the Monkey King to DC Comics

Page featuring the new Monkey Prince character from DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Collection. (Photo credit: DC Comics)

By: Hannah Han

DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Collection is DC Comics’ newest comic book anthology celebrating Asian Superheroes comes just in time to celebrate Asian Pacifiic American heritage in May.

This is an exclusive interview with writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Bernard Chang, who have contributed a special story introducing a brand new DC superhero, Monkey Prince, as the main event of this 96-page anthology commemorating some of DC’s beloved Asian and Asian American characters.


In the excerpt of The Monkey Prince Hates Superheroes from DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration, we only really got a small window into Monkey Prince’s world, but it’s really so richly depicted and vibrant, and I loved all of the references to Chinese mythology.

When you are drafting the story, what were your sources of inspiration, especially when giving Monkey Prince his distinct personality and background? Did you pull any inspiration from your own lives at any point?

Gene Luen Yang: I think I speak for both Bernard and me that even though we worked on The Monkey Prince for a few months, we’ve actually been working on this story all of our lives. Bernard and I have thought about the Monkey King since we were little kids, since we’ve heard these stories from our parents. Again, being both Monkey King fans and superhero fans, we’ve thought about the connections between superhero stories and ancient Chinese mythology for years and years and years. In a lot of ways, this project felt like we were just pouring all the stuff out onto the page that has been with us since we were little kids.

Bernard Chang: Both of us grew up with our parents reading bedtime stories about the Monkey King to us. Growing up in America, we’re first introduced to a lot of American superheroes with these powers to fly and [with] super strength and all these things. And when our parents would read to us about the Monkey King, it was our own superhero that we could associate with.

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Jason Chu’s “MARVELS” and being an adult comic book fan

Got a heads-up this week about the latest song by artist Jason Chu: “Marvels”, featuring a haunting hook sung by songstress Sarah Jake. The music video, which dropped on March 17, stars a young Hudson Yang (@HudsonDYang) of Fresh Off The Boat fame.

Chu’s song is poignant, and speaks to my own personal and shifting relationship with comic books.

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Reappropriate: The Podcast – Ep. 2 | “Thinking Man” Superhero Movies

I’m happy to announce Episode #2 of Reappropriate: The Podcast!

In this episode, guest Snoopy Jenkins (@SnoopyJenkins) and I explore the “Thinking Man” superhero movies, and delve into the kinds of themes that appeal to us as adult fans of geek culture. We touch on a number of movies including Man of SteelRobocopThe Matrix Trilogy and (of course) the Nolanverse Batman trilogy. I mention that the topic of this episode was inspired by my recent appearance on Flights, Tights and Movie Nights, a fandom podcast which you can find at the link provided and which is hosted by Bubbawheat (@bubbawheat).

You can view the podcast through YouTube, stream or download just the audio through the player below, or subscribe to Reappropriate: The Podcast through the iTunes Store.

NEXT EPISODE: On episode #3, I invite guest and fellow Asian American blogger Byron Wong (BigWOWO) on to tackle the question: “Should Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders support or oppose affirmative action in college admissions?That podcast will be recording on August 11 at 11pm at this link, so mark your calendars!

As always, we invite viewers to submit questions before or during the podcast recording. You can submit questions through Twitter (@reappropriate) or through Google Hangouts before or during the recording. This episode should be a fun and lively debate, and I strongly encourage you to tune in!

Listen to audio-only version of Episode #2 using the player below: