by Eli Cross

Marvel Comics and controversy seem to go hand in hand these days. If it’s not one thing it’s another.

After axing Alonso nearly two weeks (right before Thanksgiving no less) and announcing C.B. Cebulski as the new EiC, previous allegations regarding Cebulski began to resurface. The long and short of it, in the mid 2000’s a hotshot new writer from Japan named Akira Yoshida made waves with bunch of Marvel books such as Thor: Son of Asgard, Elektra: The Hand, Kitty Pryde: Shadow & Flame. Despite no concrete proof of Yoshida’s existence and granting absolutely no interviews, there were those in the industry who contended Yoshida existed. Former Marvel assistant editor Gregg Schigiel recounted the particulars in his Stuff Said podcast episode from last July aptly titled “The Names Have Been Changed” back in July.

It wasn’t hard to put two and two together, but it looks like Cebulski decided to come clean and has admitted to Rich Johnston’s Bleeding Cool that he was, in fact, Akira Yoshida.

“I stopped writing under the pseudonym Akira Yoshida after about a year. It wasn’t transparent, but it taught me a lot about writing, communication and pressure. I was young and naïve and had a lot to learn back then. But this is all old news that has been dealt with, and now as Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief, I’m turning a new page and am excited to start sharing all my Marvel experiences with up and coming talent around the globe.”

On the one hand, you have to admire Cebulski for getting ahead of this and come clean– albeit a decade later. On the other hand, it doesn’t exactly sit well that a white man, even with the best of intentions, created a false Asian persona at a time when Marvel hasn’t exactly endeared itself with the public about its stance on promoting diversity. Marvel’s VP of Sales David Gabriel already did enough damage in his ICv2 interview claiming  readers were “turning their noses up” at diversity and now this comes along.

In retrospect, the press release detailing CB’s onboarding at Marvel reads quite differently. Marvel Entertainment Chief Creative Office Joe Quesada, who was himself Editor-in-Chief at the time, refers to CB as “C.B.-san,” referencing the Japanese language’s usage of honorifics in what now reads as a culturally appropriative manner.

Although there was apparently much anger internally at the publisher (no surprise there) after pleading his case he was able to stay on. I’m betting Marvel internal is just glad it wasn’t another sexual harassment scandal.

Needless to say, not a great way to start your first day as EiC.

Damage Control Vol. 1 Issue #3

 

31 COMMENTS

  1. Well that’s…. phenomenally stupid. Seriously, did no one at Marvel suspect at the time? And if they did, why didn’t anyone tell him this was a bad idea? (Headdesk)

  2. It’s more than just a pseudonym. He pretended to be a different ethnicity and acted like it gave him some special insight to a different culture.

    Jess Lemon was a pseudonym used for a satirical series of articles. It was hardly the same thing. Plus, Heidi wasn’t later named EIC of a company that just spent the last year turning Captain America into a Nazi and blaming minorities for all their sales troubles.

  3. Good for him. Unusual way to get an edge in the job market, but, hey, people can choose whatever pseudonym they want, and if he felt such an affinity for Japanese culture that he wanted a Japanese one for a year I’m not going to throw a fit.

  4. Perfect time for a person of color to pass him or herself off as a white person so that they can get a job, and then agree to impersonate a person of color to bring authenticity to their work and credibility to the publisher they’re working for..

  5. Okay, he pretended to be Japanese, and back in 2002,was welcomed by upper management with a “-san” suffix when he uh, joined, whatever.

    But this time, he’s not in Japan, he’s in Shanghai, mainland China. And leaving China, (not Japan), returning to the US, am I correct? Cool. Let’s leave that past stuff behind, and give the guy a chance lol.

  6. If senator warren can get a pass on claiming she was of indian decent because she had “high cheekbones” and use that to enter into a ivy league college, i think we can pass this off as a big fat nothing burger. there are much bigger things going on than this nonsense.

  7. He created a fake persona – not a pseudonym. A pseudonym is if the publisher knows who he is, he fills out all the necessary tax forms and a legal documents and the publisher then publishes the book under the name the person asks for. There’s always a conversation about credit. (C.B. for example versus his full Christian name versus another) This guy was lying to his bosses and violating corporate policies. Joe Q laid down the law so that editors could not write books. It was seen as a conflict of interest. This guy went around that by creating a fake persona to get it.

    He must have had to lie and purposely misfile tax and legal documents for Marvel and for the US government. This isn’t a 1930’s a comedy, you don’t mail a script and then get a check made out to “cash”. If Marvel never knew about this, that means he was filing and signing paperwork under this fake name and not his own, and so he might have committed tax fraud, identity theft, and a variety of other crimes. Not huge crimes, certainly, but it’s illegal.

    What is Marvel’s legal standing with regards to those stories? If he committed fraud by lying on the forms, then who owns them? Do the rules and standards and guidelines the company has pledged to freelancers re everything from royalties to credits still apply? Does this make the whole contract null and void? (I truly have no idea)

  8. I’ll admit, it annoys me that David Brothers was the catalyst for all this. His “I’m David” column for the original version of Comics Alliance was incredibly obnoxious, and the less said about his four-week sting guest hosting the Inkstuds podcast back in 2013, the better.

  9. “Let’s leave that past stuff behind, and give the guy a chance.”

    Or how about we publicly pressure him to resign and replace him with someone who isn’t a Marvel insider or a Quesada lapdog?

    Preferably a person of color or a woman. Or both.

  10. A culturally appropriative manner? What a load of hooey! By he way,make no mistake, Readers have turned their noses up at Marvels version of diversity. Nice try though…

  11. A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
    Tiptoes to my room every night
    Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
    ” Go to sleep. Everything is all right.” … It’s too bad that all these things
    Can only happen in my dreams
    Only in dreams, in beautiful dreams. Roy Orbison -In Dreams 1963

  12. I find stories like this very frustrating. It’s not wrong to adopt a pseudonym no matter your race or the race of the imagined persona. Anyone who has followed Cebulski or knows anything at all about him knows that he has a great deal of experience with and respect/love for Japanese culture. It’s why he would consider taking the name in the first place.

    It feels like so many people just want to insert their politics without regard for the people involved or their intentions.

    The idea that being called CB-san is somehow cultural appropriation is also sad. Again, it is the person and the experiences involved. The Japanese language isn’t just a marker for ‘Asian’ it is its own art form deeply rooted in Japan. A country and a language that again Cebulski is deeply familiar with.
    And as anyone who routinely works in Japan, in a Japanese company, or as part of a Japanese staff, having -san attached to his name is the norm.

    Cebulski is uniquely positioned to start bringing in talent from Japan and elsewhere in Asia. I for one think thats exciting for the future of Marvel comics.

  13. “He must have had to lie and purposely misfile tax and legal documents for Marvel and for the US government.”

    It’s not unusual for freelancers to set up their own corporations, so Marvel could have made out a check to “Yoshida Inc.” and Cebulski cashed it as the sole shareholder of the corporation. So it’s not true that anything illegal must have happened.

    And it continually amazes me how when people who should know better embrace a fascistic “ethnicity is all” approach to creativity.

    Mike

  14. Peter Harris talks about a replacement, saying:

    “Preferably a person of color or a woman. Or both.”

    I’ve got a much better idea. Howabout hiring THE MOST QUALIFIED PERSON, REGARDLESS OF RACE AND/OR GENDER!

    I swear, this “affirmative action” crap is destroying the country!

  15. Best case scenario: He’s obsessed with Japanese culture and was idiotic and naive in his thinking by appropriating a Japanese persona. Become the person you wish you actually were. Wouldn’t be the first white american to fall down that rabbit hole.

    But thing about Pen names, is that they’re usually designed to help you blend in to the background and not raise questions. This one was so blatantly odd, that i feel like it was designed to get attention. Plus being an insider, he had unique understanding and access to marketing information. initiatives and other internal info so I kinda feel like the pen name was designed to give him an extra advantage, whatever that may have been.

    I think its a really bad look and kinda calls into question some of his motivations.

  16. “I swear, this “affirmative action” crap is destroying the country!”

    Yes, who can forget that very high profile public role that was granted to a woman/person of colour where they were clearly unqualified for their job and ruined everything. If only they had gone with the clearly more qualified white man, such ruin clearly would have been avoided! And we can point to any number of such cases, like… like… hmmm.

    Ok, I’ll give you Betty DeVos, but to be fair, while there were much more qualified white men to do that job, there were much more qualified women and PoC too.

  17. So, apparently Cebulski was developing pitches with other writers in his role as an editor and then taking the ideas for himself as Yoshida. This is far worse than the culture stuff…he was using his position to hurt others.

  18. “Ok, I’ll give you Betty DeVos, but to be fair, while there were much more qualified white men to do that job, ”

    I’ll give you Sarah Palin, too. Talk about unqualified to be a VP pick.

    “It’s an open season on white males. How the liberal vermin despise us.”

    It was open season on women — and sometimes men — for many years while sleazebags were in power. I just read the Jann Wenner bio, “Sticky Fingers.” It describes Wenner’s “jovial sexual harassment” in the Rolling Stone offices. He went after men and women … though mainly women in the early years, because he was closeted until ’95.

    “Liberal vermin” is a good name for Wenner, and for Harvey Weinstein as well. “Conservative vermin” describes Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes.

  19. C.B. Cebulski used a pseudonym 15 years ago to write some comic books and there are people calling for him to be fired, to never work again, to be investigated by the IRS, etc. Which really makes me wonder what punishment would be left for him if he had done something that actually hurt someone.

    History has shown us again and again that when the mob starts torching other people’s houses, the fire will eventually consume their house too.

  20. “Marvel Entertainment Chief Creative Office Joe Quesada, who was himself Editor-in-Chief at the time, refers to CB as “C.B.-san,” referencing the Japanese language’s usage of honorifics in what now reads as a culturally appropriative manner.”

    this is… jacobinean? hypermoralist? whatever. just a reader feedback: this kind of race- and identity-politics obsessed reporting is not something i want to consume furthermore. i used to be a patreon-supporter, but things change, so: bye bye “the beat”

  21. Chris Hero said: “It’s more than just a pseudonym. He pretended to be a different ethnicity and acted like it gave him some special insight to a different culture.”

    Hardly. And isn’t this expectation a stereotype in itself?

  22. What’s the difference between “Liberal vermin” and “Tutsi cockroaches”? Answers on a postcard addressed to the Hannah Arendt Center, please.

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