Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Amazing 1956 comic from William F. Wu's "Asian images" comic book collection at NYU: THE YELLOW CLAW

A little bit of news: I've been asked to curate the first-ever exhibition of the incredible comic book collection of science fiction author William F. Wu for New York University's Fales Library — Wu has samples of nearly every comic containing Asian images published between the years of 1947 and 1986, and has donated his archive to Fales! The show goes up in May, so there's a ton of research work (e.g., poring over comics) to be done between then and now. Well, in the course of that research, I came across this comic published by Atlas (which would later engender mighty Marvel): The first edition of The Yellow Claw, by EC Comics great Al Feldstein and artist Joe Maneely, published in October 1956. It's incredible in several ways: First, because it incorporates virtually every standing stereotype of Asians within its pages, depicted with amazing grotesquerie. Second, because it also introduces perhaps the first-ever Asian American pulp hero and protagonist: Jimmy Woo, Chinese American FBI agent, nemesis to the evil would-be conqueror (and Fu Manchu manquee) Yellow Claw. Woo also has an ongoing flirtation with the Claw's grandniece, Suwan, who pines for the dashing agent but also has lotus-like loyalty unto death toward her grand-uncle. Truly amazing stuff...and it's just the tip of the iceberg of this collection. I promise you, the exhibition is going to be a must-see.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just finished moderating a fantastic panel at SXSW: E-Race—Anonymity, Avatarization and the Virtualization of Identity

I can't say enough about the panelists, W. James Au (author of The Making of Second Life) and Lisa Nakamura (director of Asian American Studies at U. of Illinois–Urbana, Champaign and editor of Digitizing Race and CyberTypes) — they were prepared, incredibly knowledgable and, yes, funny as hell. Our conversation began with a reassessment of the nature and definition of race, followed by James's exploration of race and identity in the world of avatars and Lisa's discussion of racism as mediated by (and exacerbated by) technology. Brazilian bodythieves on Second Life, how black sellers on Craigslist get offered puppies for iPods, the genocide of female dwarves in Lineage II, trolling for lulz on TechCrunch — the conversation went numerous places but all of them were directly germane to the topic, which had implications and dimensions that neither the audience nor the panelists were fully aware of until we started talking.

Our PowerPoint presentation is available below, as is the awesome Visual Notes doodle created by Heather Willems of ImageThink on behalf of Ogilvy (which selected certain panels — the coolest ones, ahem — for visualization in this graphical outline medium. I'll link the podcast when it's available as well. It's a must-listen, if I do say so myself!

erace_final.pdf Download this file


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