THE YELLOW PAGES is a weekly newsletter recommending Asian and AAPI films, music, writing, and other inspiration — all the artsy things I wished for growing up!
I didn’t grow up reading comics. I just wasn’t interested in them, unless there were cute dogs (Peanuts), cats (Garfield) or stuffed animals (Calvin & Hobbes). I often wonder — if I had seen more faces like my own, would I have enjoyed graphic novels, like my nephews and nieces do today?
Back in 2009, Keith Chow, Jerry Ma, Parry Shen, and Jeff Yang put together a book called “Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology:”1
“What if we told you a tale about a quiet, unassuming guy with black hair and thick glasses; an immigrant, who’s done his best to fit into a world that isn’t his? Many Asian Americans fit that bill. But so does Clark Kent, better known to the world as Superman.
Appealing to both comics fans and Asian Americans seeking to claim their place in American culture, Secret Identities makes brilliant use of the conventions of the superhero comic book to expose the real face of the Asian American experience.
This groundbreaking graphic anthology brings together leading Asian American creators in the comics industry—including Gene Yang (National Book Award finalist for American Born Chinese), Bernard Chang (Wonder Woman), Greg Pak (The Hulk), and Christine Norrie (Black Canary Wedding Special)—to craft original graphical short stories set in a compelling ‘shadow history’ of our country: from the building of the railroads to the Japanese American World War II incarceration, the Vietnam airlift, the murder of Vincent Chin, and the incarceration of Dr. Wen Ho Lee.”
They asked me to write a story for it, posing the question: “If you could have a super power, what would it be?” For me, the answer was simple — I was still struggling with my binge eating disorder at the time, and I knew if I could harness any kind of super human “strength,” it would be to eat anything I wanted without gaining weight.
This planted the seed for a story which ultimately became my own recovery story: the ability to tap into a different relationship with food. I found the entire storytelling process to be very therapeutic, from working with the artist Paul Wei to the editors guiding me on how to work within this genre.
Even though that experience was so rewarding, graphic novels still aren’t where I gravitate when I’m looking for something to read. I know I’m definitely in the minority here, though, which is why I’m so glad I have an expert to share some recommendations today.
Eric Nguyen (he/him)
Where are you?
What do you do?
Comic Book Artist for Marvel/DC/Dark Horse
How do you identify?
Do you identify as “yellow?”
Anything coming up you’d like to promote?