For better or worse, the images of Asian Americans in comics have been compiled in a new book Shattered, the Asian American Comic Anthology. The book is Jeff Yang and Parry Shen’s follow up to Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.
Many of the images in the new anthology are “images with an agenda,” Yang said to OC Weekly. They tend from periods in history when Asians were the enemy–the rise of Japan and World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and more currently North Korea. “It was a political move to use pop culture to define Asians in a way that barred us from coming, preventing us from succeeding, and marginalizing us. Not to complain, but this is part of our history.”
Yang and Shen recently spoke on a panel at Cal State Fullerton. “The title refers to the shattering of the image of glasses that are mostly worn by the Asian American characters in popular movies or television. These are the kinds of things that represent us today; they are the things that hide us,” Yang stated.
Both Yang and Shen are the first to admit their anthology is not complete. They refer to it as only the beginning and encourage others to build on what they started.
“Someone asked, ‘Why didn’t you include Cambodian comic artists? Or Cambodian lesbian comic artists?’ said Shen. “What Jeff and I did, we realize, had never been done before, to collect comics from Asian Americans into one book. So we want to encourage others to continue on what we’ve started.”
You can read a lot more about their two anthologies in the OC Weekly