Gene Luen Yang’s classic graphic novel American Born Chinese is about to become a TV series on Disney +.
Deadline reports that Disney has ordered American Born Chinese as a straight-to-series action comedy. Destin Daniel Cretton, who directed Marvel/Disney’s record setting Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, will direct. The writers are Bob’s Burgers’ Kelvin Yu and his brother, Charles Yu (Westworld). Kelvin will also executive produce as the showrunner, along with Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan (Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.). Asher Goldstein (Just Mercy) and Yang.
American Born Chinese came out in 2006 and became the first graphic novel to be finalist for the National Book Award. The honor was no fluke: the book is a multi-leveled examination of Asian-American heritage, identity and discrimination, told though the story of teenager Jin Wang who struggles with home life, school work and stereotypes, while exploring Chinese mythology and history. In addition to its NBA honors, it has won the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award and a 2007 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.
Published by First Second, American Born Chinese has become a classic of identity and is frequently used in classrooms and reading lists.
“We are delighted to continue our relationship with Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan and thrilled that Destin Daniel Cretton is set to direct,” said Ayo Davis, president of Disney Branded Television in a statement. “The team are visionaries in bringing character-driven adventures to life, and we cannot wait for our audience to experience this fantastically memorable and imaginative adaptation of the graphic novel. This is a great universal story that moves between worlds and explores the impact of culture, identity, and acceptance through the lens of adolescence.”
“This has been a labor of love for Melvin Mar, and like the force of nature he is, the team he has assembled in Kelvin, Destin and Jake is as inspired and otherworldly as Gene’s beautiful graphic novel,” said 20th Television President Karey Burke. “We are so proud to be their studio and grateful to Ayo and everyone at Disney Branded Television and Disney+ for their belief in this series.”
“Gene Luen Yang’s book is a staple in American literature, and deeply important to a whole generation of readers,” said Kelvin Yu. “Destin and Melvin are storytellers working at the highest level imaginable. It’s all so exciting and so humbling to be a part of.”
“I feel so lucky to be working with this team,” Yang said. “Melvin Mar is a man with a vision, and I’m deeply grateful that he took this project under his wing. Kelvin Yu is a phenomenal talent. His script brings to television everything I wanted to get across in my book. And Destin Cretton… who in America isn’t a fan of Destin Cretton right now? I can’t wait for him to bring his signature blend of action and heart to the show.”
Yang, who has twice been named The Beat’s Comics Industry Person of the Year, is a huge Disney fan – as a child he dreamed of becoming a Disney animator – so this is a dream come true, he says.
The production team has experience in such series as Fresh Off The Boat and other shows dealing with humor action and Asian-American issues…this is really going to be a program to watch out when it debuts.