Monday, May 10, 2010

My latest ASIAN POP column, THE ROBOTECH MASTER: Carl Macek, RIP

My latest column is a look back at the career of Carl Macek — perhaps the most important animation figure you haven't heard about, if you're not an old-school anime fan, that is. But Macek's contributions to the medium are huge and multifacted; he was the cofounder of SPUMCO, Ren & Stimpy creator's John Kricfalusi; with Jerry Beck, he launched Streamline Pictures, the first company to distribute Japanese animation theatrically in the U.S., and the vehicle by which classic works like Akira, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle of Cagliostro, and Kiki's Delivery Service first came to America. And, of course, he created the epic space odyssey Robotech, controversially melding together three different anime series under a wholly new plot to create something original and different. Rest in peace, Carl.

I got this column out the door just as I was running for my flight to Singapore, en route to the Asian Festival of Children's Content (where I was a featured speaker on a few panels) and then to Shanghai, for a day of back to back to back meetings and a half-day at the frenzied EPCOT-on-steroids known as the Shanghai World Expo. In next week's ASIAN POP column, I'll talk about what I saw and did there....

ASIAN POP: The 'Robotech' master
By Jeff Yang, Special to SF Gate
Thursday, May 6, 2010
There's a certain basket of phrases used to describe those individuals whose life's work leads to the launch, not of mere products or brands, but entire industries and worldviews. They're "passionate," "perfectionist," "controversial"; they're "willing to step on toes" and "do whatever it takes" to materialize their grand visions. This past weekend, friends, family and admirers gathered at a church in Southern California to honor the memory of a man who epitomized such words, and whose impact on American pop culture was in its own way as profound as any figure in his generation: Carl Macek.

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Relieving the backlog of recent ASIAN POP columns: REMAKING THE GODS, on Greg Pak, godmaker

Globe-trotting travel, and all of the annoyances leading up to globe-trotting travel (e.g., getting visas, dealing with passport trolls), have had me squonked for the past month, so I'm late, late, late in posting a few of my recent columns to the ol' blog. Here's the first — an interview I've been wanting to do for a while, with an old friend and a creative role model of mine, Greg Pak. The trigger for writing this? The revelation that Greg's coolest character creation, boy genius Amadeus Cho, is finally getting his own title — albeit briefly. With an epic story arc coming to a close in Greg and Fred Van Lente's INCREDIBLE HERCULES — one that ends with the demigod a little worse for the wear, as in dead-ish — his friend and partner Cho ascends to the vacant role of Prince of Power, in the miniseries THE HEROIC AGE: PRINCE OF POWER. Anyway, even as Greece suffers the comeuppance of its fiscal hubris, Greg talks about gods and heroes and why the pantheon of the future might look a little more like the rest of us. Read on!

ASIAN POP: Remaking the gods
By Jeff Yang, Special to SF Gate
Thursday, April 22, 2010
In writer Greg Pak's latest comic book series, god -- one of them, anyway -- is dead, and a Korean American teen must take his place.

Posted via email from OriginalSpin