Marvel's new Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski came under fire yesterday after admitting to using the pseudonym “Akira Yoshida” to write multiple comic books in the mid-2000s. While many fans and industry pros reacted negatively to the revelation, others come have come to his defense. Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan co-creator Sana Amanat is the latest to go on the record to defend Cebulski's actions, despite the widespread criticism of a Caucasian writer using a Japanese name to write manga-influenced comics.
"This is a world he understood," Amanat told Channel NewsAsia. "He’s one of my favourite people (and) I think many people who know CB will know that he is one of the most globally minded, and very culturally sensitive as well. That man has lived in Japan, speaks Japanese, and has lived all over the world. He very much associates with Japanese culture. And I think that him writing, for whatever time it was, was him trying to be a writer more than anything else.
"I think we have to be very sensitive about cultural appropriation and whitewashing," Amanat continued. "But I do think, fundamentally, that if there’s an opportunity to create more awareness about a particular type of character, whether it’s an Asian character or a black character, that should be our primary goal – telling as authentic, as honest, as fun, as real a story as possible about that character. Because that’s what’s really going to build more awareness about a particular cultural group. Of course we want cultural authenticity and make sure we’re casting those people behind the scenes, but the primary goal is getting those kinds of characters out there."
Amanat went on to reference longtime Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis, who co-created the African-American/Latino Miles Morales Spider-Man.
"[Bendis] is as white as they come (but) he happens to have a daughter who's African American," she said. "So it meant something to him. We have to stop dismissing people when they want to be able to promote that. Because then we’re actually going to create a deepening dividing line between cultures in a way that is antagonistic. We have to start communicating and not being so angry."
Cebulski was announced as Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief on Nov. 17, succeeding Axel Alonso who had held the position since 2011. This prompted Image Comics Brand Manager David Brothers to tweet that comics journalists should ask why Cebulski used the Yoshida pen name to “write a bunch of ‘Japanese-y’ books” for Marvel.
Suspicions that Yoshida was an alias can be traced back to at least 2005, as CBR’s Brian Cronin tackled the subject for an edition of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed. At the time, it was deemed false, due to veteran comics editor Mike Marts’ account that he had met Yoshida. However, it's now been claimed that this was actually a Japanese translator visiting the Marvel office who was mistakenly identified as Yoshida.
Along with his writing credits, Cebulski has held a number of staff positions at Marvel in his more than 15 years at the company, including Vice President of International Business Development & Brand Management. This is his first week as Editor-in-Chief.