BatmanBy Minnie Roh

Asian American Life


In the make believe world of comic books full of aliens, ghouls and superheroes who possess incredible powers, perhaps it’s not as crucial to have an ethnically diverse population in the mix.  But Asian American comic book writers like Amy Chu, Greg Pak and Larry Hama disagree, saying this fantasy world should reflect the world in which we all live.

They pen beloved and established characters like G.I. Joe, Superman and Wonder Woman, but their very presence is changing the industry from within. As writers, they have the ability to incorporate ethnically diverse characters into the storyline.   Eleven years ago, while Greg Pak wrote about the adventures of the Incredible Hulk, he created Amadeus Cho, a Korean American genius who is the Hulk’s number one fan.

“When I pitch the idea of Korean American kid,” says Pak,  “I never had a moment where someone said, does he have to be Korean?  This may happen in film, but never ever in comics.”

For the past several decades, the pool of writers and editors in the comic book industry has been growing more and more diverse.  As a result, a new breed of superheroes was introduced into a world formerly dominated by white and male characters like Superman or Captain America.   Take Cindy Moon, or Silk, an Asian American who developed superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider.  Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani Muslim American.  There’s Turok, a Native American dinosaur hunter, and Storm, the leader of the XMen, who was the daughter of a Kenyan princess.

However, as important as it is to portray an inclusive world, Amy Chu, an Asian American activist turned comic book writer says she tends to shy away from creating characters of color simply for the sake of diversity.   “I want to see interesting characters that are interesting, but not just for their ethnicity.  That just bugs the heck out of me,” says Chu.

For more on this story watch this month’s episode of CUNY-TV’s Asian American Life:


This month’s show also features:

Fresh Off The Boat

Host Ernabel Demillo looks at Fresh Off The Boat, the historic sitcom airing in primetime on the ABC Television Network. With Variety’s recent report that “diversity sells,” TV critics, viewers and advertisers are paying close attention to this sitcom’s success. Featured in the segment is an interview with the series’ lead, 11-year-old Hudson Yang. Ironically, Hudson’s father, Jeff Yang, now a cultural critic and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, wrote a scathing review in 1994 of the only prior Asian American sitcom, All American Girl, starring Margaret Cho – but in this segment he thinks the past 20 years have created a new acceptance of Asian American inclusion.

One World Opera

Sung Jin Hong, Artistic Director and Conductor of One World Symphony, thinks nothing of writing new operas based on Silence Of The Lambs serial killer Hannibal Lecter, or the TV series Breaking Bad – turning high and pop culture into performing arts success. Reporter Paul Lin interviews Hong and his wife and collaborator, Adrienne Metzinger, Managing Director of One World Symphony.

On The Move: David Chung, CEO of 3Lab

Each month in On the Move, ASIAN AMERICAN LIFE profiles an outstanding individual making a difference in his/her industry and community. Kyung Yoon profiles David Chung, an entrepreneur who turned a small Mom-and-Pop store on 32nd Street in New York City’s Koreatown into a global high-end skincare empire — 3Lab is now generating revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars; the line is found in premium retailers like Barneys New York. Included in the inside story to Chung’s success are Erica Chung, wife and business partner, and Judy Chung, David Chung’s mother.



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