by Amy Chu
Yellow Claw. Ming the Merciless. Wing How. A panel of Asian American comics creators talked candidly about racial stereotypes past and present in comics last night at the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City’s Chinatown. Writer/artist Larry Hama, writer Greg Pak, and editors of the Asian American anthology Shattered Keith Chow and Jerry Ma shared their personal experiences and observations, moderated by Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Yang.
The room was full, with many Asian American comics creators in the audience such as letterer Janice Chiang (Smurfs, Archie) and artist Da Fu Yu (Monkey Quest, Rex the Zombie Killer). As Asians “We are often faced with funhouse images of ourselves” observed Yang. “They’re never the main hero,” said Chow. Hama talked about his reactions and strategy working with the character Storm Shadow. Because of the dearth of non-villainous or sidekick characters which inspired him to create the Korean American character Amadeus Cho for the Marvel universe.
The evening ended with a contest where stereotypical characters were reimagined by Asian American artists and writers. Audience members voted for their favorite. The cash prize went to artist Alice Meichi Li for her androgynous rocker reinterpretation of the X-Men character Sunfire.