Next Saturday at the Long Beach Comic Expo the first ever winner of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity will be named, and today the organizers revealed an impressive roster of nominees that includes a tribute to the first Chinese-American superhero, a blaxploitation revival, and the most prominent Muslim superhero in North American comics.
The Shadow Hero
In a speech at the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress last weekend, The Shadow Hero writer Gene Luen Yang threw down the gauntlet.
Yang challenged comics creators to overcome their fears of bring criticized for inaccurately portraying characters who are different from them -- in terms of race, gender, or other identifying factors. In brief, he told writers to do some research and get it right, but first and foremost to step outside themselves.
Even though it only came out today from First Second, Gene Yang and Sonny Liew's The Shadow Hero is already one of my favorite graphic novels of the year. Through their revival of an obscure Golden Age character called the Green Turtle, Yang and Liew have gone back to tell a story about one of the forgotten heroes of the first wave of American comics, blending a story full of action and adventure with rumors about the true motivations behind what may have been the first Asian-American superhero.
To find out more, I spoke to Yang about how he discovered the Green Turtle, what he hopes comes out of his work on a public domain character, and why he focused on the Green Turtle's relationship with his mom.
It's already been a pretty amazing year for original graphic novels with Kyle Starks' Sexcastle being funded on Kickstarter and Box Brown's long-awaited Andre the Giant in stores now, but we're not done getting great comics yet. The latest contender for OGN Of The Year is The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, out this July from First Second.
In their story, they tell one of the most exciting and heartfelt superhero stories I've seen in a while, and they do it by reviving one of the most interesting characters of all time. See, The Shadow Hero is actually a Golden Age character called the Green Turtle, and while his adventures on the page never really caught on, the story behind the character is fascinating -- especially how Yang and Liew use that real life story to shape the one they're telling in the book.
Following the immense critical and commercial success of his two volume epic Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang announced his next project for First Second, The Shadow Hero. Written by Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew, The Shadow Hero is an origin story for The Green Turtle, a golden age pulp hero who first appeared in 1944′s Blazing Comics #1.
Created by cartoonist Chu F. Hing, The Green Turtle was the first ever Asian-American superhero, and one of the first characters to have an Asian-American creator. The Shadow Hero will be a revival for the character, as he stars in new stories for the first time in decades.
But before its release, Yang and Liew created a preview for the book, first published in the pages of the Shattered Anthology, which Tor.com has just released in full color.
Gene Luen Yang is on a heck of a roll lately. Hot off the heels of his two-volume graphic novel Boxers and Saints, Yang has just announced his next project: A graphic novel with artist Sonny Liew about the first-ever Asian-American superhero.
The new book, The Shadow Hero, offers up an origin story for that character, The Green Turtle, who first appeared way back in 1944's Blazing Comics #1.