Friday, February 20, 2009

Why Is This Man Angry?

Here's a color pinup I did for SECRET IDENTITIES:The Asian American Superhero Anthology.

SECRET IDENTITIES is an anthology book featuring Asian-American superheroes by Asian-American creators.  It is the brainchild of editor-in-chief Jeff Yang ( who wrote the books Eastern Standard Time, and I Am Jackie Chan:My Life In Action ), editor Keith Chow, managing editor Parry Shen ( lead actor in Better Luck Tomorrow ), art director Jerry Ma, and 
senior artist Jef Castro.
The character pictured is named "Jimson", from a short story written by Jeff Yang and drawn by me called DRIVING STEEL. DRIVING STEEL is a supernatural western that takes place during the construction of the transcontinental railroad.
I had originally submitted a story of my own that took place during that same period, but it was rejected. Fortunately, Jeff ( who is the editor-in-chief of the book ) had written DRIVING STEEL, but there was no artist assigned to it, so I was able to step in. I had already done quite a bit of research on that time and setting, so I'm glad it was not wasted. 
I'm still planning to do my own Chinese western at some later date. I always thought it would be a great idea to do something akin to Bruce Lee's original television concept The Warrior, ( a whitewashed version of which would later become Kung Fu ) in comic book form.
And speaking of whitewashing,  there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the casting of M. Night Shylaman's The Last Airbender.  Based on the animated series, this film screams "asian-ness" , but they have decided to cast all caucasian actors in the lead roles. We've seen this type of thing throughout the history of film, whether it's white actors dressed in yellowface, or a blatant disregard of the character's Asian ancestry.  

We're nearly a decade into the 21st century, we've just elected the first African-American president, yet the makers of this film still believe that audiences can't handle the idea of actual Asian actors portraying Asians and would rather see caucasians playing Asians.  It's based on the mistaken belief that people won't buy tickets with Asian faces in the lead roles. This is complete and blatant discrimination against actors of Asian ancestry.  In no other profession would this complete and blatant discrimination against actors of Asian ancestry be tolerated. 
The filmmakers can try to hide behind a claim of artistic interpretation, but if you look at the source material, the race of the characters is obvious.  It's hard to believe that there were absolutely no qualified Asian actors for the roles.  We always hear Asian actors talk about the lack of roles for Asians, and when there are roles, they are given to caucasians or the roles are altered to accommodate caucasian actors.  This type of casting discrimination needs  to end. Write a letter to the makers of this film to show your disapproval.  More on this subject can be found here, here, here and here.