Official Press Release
Imagine, if you will, a young man-quiet, unassuming, with black hair and thick glasses. He’s doing his best to fit in, in a world far away from the land of his birth. He knows he’s different, and that his differences make him alien, an outsider-but they also make him special. Yet he finds himself unable to reveal his true self, his hidden self, to the world…
For many Asian Americans, this chronicle is a familiar one, because many of us have lived it. But it also happens to be the tale of a mild-mannered reporter named Clark Kent-better known to the world as Superman. And the parallels between those stories help explain why Asian Americans have become such a driving force in the contemporary comics renaissance, as artists, writers-and fans.
But there’s one place where Asians are still underrepresented in comics: Between the four-color covers themselves. That’s why, in SECRET IDENTITIES, Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma have brought together 66 top Asian American writers, artists and comics professionals to create 26 original stories centered around Asian American superheroes-stories set in a shadow history of our country, from the opening of the West to the election of the first minority president, and exploring ordinary Asian American life from a decidedly extraordinary perspective.
The anthology, from leading independent publisher The New Press, will be available in bookstores and comic book specialty retailers everywhere beginning April 15. A regularly updated website (secretidentities.org) and blog (secretidentitiesbook.blogspot.com) feature weekly video teasers and exclusive behind-the-scenes news, interviews and character art from the book.
“Each of us grew up inspired and delighted by the incredible icons of the comic book universe-Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the entire pantheon of heroes-but we also wondered why so few of them looked like us,” says Jeff Yang, the book’s editor-in-chief. “We didn’t want our kids to grow up wondering the same thing.”
At the same time, SECRET IDENTITIES is about more than just whiz-bang action. “We wanted to use the conventions of the superhero comic book to expose the real face of the Asian American experience, usually hidden behind the mask of misperception and stereotype,” says Parry Shen, managing editor of the anthology.
“Our hope was to use this unique lens as a way to examine issues that all too often go overlooked or unspoken-things like the challenges faced by new immigrants, gender roles and race relations, and parental and peer pressure,” says Keith Chow, education and outreach editor, who is also developing a teacher’s guide to be used as a companion to the book.
“We also saw it as an opportunity to showcase some of the amazing talent present in our community, and unleash that talent to create the kinds of heroes we always wanted to be when we were kids,” says the book’s art director, Jerry Ma.
Among SECRET IDENTITIES’ creators are: Gene Yang (American Born Chinese), Bernard Chang (Wonder Woman), Greg Pak (The Hulk), Sonny Liew (Liquid City), Billy Tan (Secret Invasion), Dustin Nguyen (Detective Comics), Cliff Chiang (Green Arrow/Black Canary), Kazu Kibuishi (Flight), Greg LaRocque (The Flash), Christine Norrie (Black Canary Wedding Special), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man) and Francis Tsai (Heroes for Hire)-as well as new and established creators from film (directors Michael Kang, Ted Chung; actors Sung Kang, Leonardo Nam, Dustin T. Nguyen, Kelly Hu), television (Survivor’s Yul Kwon, Gilmore Girls’ Keiko Agena) and literature (author Jamie Ford, playwright Clarence Coo).
The book’s editors and contributors will be going on a nationwide tour in support of the anthology, currently planned to include stops in New York, NY; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Durham, NC; Austin, TX; Tacoma, WA; Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MD; and San Diego, CA. Updated tour dates and details can be found on the Secret Identities website.