Three Asian-Americans to Look Out for in Popular Media
By: Sam Andico
With the rise of the #UnderratedAsian hashtag, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of my favorite Asian-American artists and creators. Who knows? This might become a series or something.
1. Gene Luen Yang: Writer
Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (2006), a graphic novel that weaves three seemingly unrelated stories together, was the first graphic novel to be nominated for the National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. In addition – it also won an Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Album. He explores themes of racial struggles and stereotypes, and understanding one’s identity. In addition to ABC, he has written two major canon Avatar: The Last Airbender comics – The Promise and The Search. Yang also wrote the origin story for a previously obscure Asian-American superhero, The Green Turtle, called The Shadow Hero. He has also written for DC (Superman #41-50, 2015-2016).
Upcoming Work: New Super-Man, Kenji Kong (Chinese Super-Man!)
(Side-note: I had the opportunity to meet Yang at Comic-Con this year! He was incredibly kind and signed my copy of The Shadow Hero, and I freaked out about New Super-Man with him.)
2. Karen Fukuhara: Actress
Karen Fukuhara is a Japanese-American actress and L.A. native who will be starring as Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana in DC/WB’s Suicide Squad. This Fukuhara’s first major film role – she previously worked on several shows for Disney Channel Japan.
Fukuhara describes Katana as a “badass,” and adds “I loved playing her and doing the action scenes. I used to do karate, so I loved the … fight sequences and working with the stunt team.”
When asked by YOMYOMF what changes she wanted to see in the film industry, Fukuhara said: “Diversity! When I booked SUICIDE SQUAD, I was completely selfish and happy for myself. Fans commented on social media about how happy they were about that, and it reminded me that it’s rare to see a female Asian portray such a strong character in a major Hollywood film.”
3. Marjorie Liu: Writer
Marjorie Liu is an award-winning writer known for her work on X-23, Dark Wolverine, Astonishing X-Men (for which she was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Best Comic Book), and Monstress (for which she was nominated for Best Writer at the Eisner Awards this year). She is also the writer of Marvel’s current Han Solo series. Her work has received attention for featuring Marvel’s first gay wedding (between Northstar and his partner Kyle) in Astonishing X-Men, and exploring themes of racism, war, and feminism (Monstress).
“Monstress is about an outsider, a young woman who belongs nowhere; it is about young women who fight, who tame, who are consumed—and who become monsters in their own right.”
– Marjorie Liu, from her blog
(Another side-note: I also got to meet Marjorie at Comic-Con, along with Monstress artist Sana Takeda!)