Walking With Master Hare — Behind the Scenes With Shattered

Master Hare

I inherited my love of comics from my dad. He was a huge Marvel fan and when my brother and I found his old collection of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Thor comics, we were hooked. It never really occurred to me as I was growing up, but as I was about college age, I noticed that my favorite comics lacked heroes that looked like me. Though many of my favorite titles were drawn by Asian artists, there were hardly any Asian heroes in the pages. I was pretty disappointed, but the revelation didn’t put me off comics. In fact, I expanded the types of comics I collected because the super hero genre just wasn’t holding up.

I figured that this was going to the be the state of things. Then a few years ago, I heard about an anthology that would feature Asian American super heroes, Secret Identities: The Asian American Super Hero Anthology.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I ordered a copy of Secret Identities and waited with great anticipation. Would this be the Asian American equivalent of the Milestone Universe, a super hero universe featuring Black super heroes created in the early 90s. Would this anthology encourage the big two to feature more Asian American heroes? I conjured all sorts of hopeful maybes.

It arrived at my doorstep and I tore into the packaging like a mad wolverine to get to its contents. I couldn’t wait to read about super heroes that looked like me. But as I turned the pages, I felt my brow furrow. These weren’t hopeful stories of heroes doing super human deeds. These were angry stories that sought to punish the White Man for years of oppression.

To be fair, not every story came from a place of anger. But the overall vibe of the collection was so angry and bitter that I hid the thing in a dark place on my shelf. I couldn’t recommend this to my non-Asian friends for fear that they’d feel like they were being attacked. I mean, I’m a pretty angry and bitter person in general, but even I felt put off by the overall tone.

These weren’t the heroes I was looking for. These weren’t the stories I had been waiting for.

A Second Glance

Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant when the Secret Identities crew contacted me earlier this year to contribute to their second anthology, Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology. I nearly declined, but I felt that maybe I’d have an opportunity to be part of the solution, to tell a story that featured Asian characters that wasn’t bitter or angry. After some soul searching, I agreed.

I was sent a few scripts to consider and already, my fears were put to rest. These were the kind of stories that I had been looking for. The one that spoke to me the most was Howard Wong’s Master Tortoise and Master Hare. As you might guess, it’s a retelling of the classic Tortoise and Hare fable set in ancient China.

One of my biggest concerns was creating a unique look for Master Hare. To me, the definitive long-eared action hero is Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. I was afraid that my love for Stan and Usagi would creep into my Master Hare. I hid all my Usagi books and my Stan Sakai sketchbooks and collected screen shots of Kung Fu villains and photos of hares.

With Master Hare somewhat settled, I went on to design Master Tortoise. Again, I had to push out childhood favorites out of my mind. I drew a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when it first hit the airwaves in the late 80’s. Their head shapes, body contours, hands are all second nature to my drawing hand. I can TMNT with the best of them. So I made a concerted effort to lean on my reference photos of actual tortoises. Even so, you can see the TMNT influence in Master Tortoise’s limbs.

I had an absolute blast drawing the story and playing with these characters. I was pretty pleased with the work and couldn’t wait to see how it fit into the rest of the anthology.

Shattered, A Triumph

I was absolutely elated when I read through the preview copy of Shattered that we creators were sent. This anthology is exactly what I had been looking for. Rather than spending time trying to shame the White Man for years of oppression, this collection concentrates on telling good stories that feature Asian leads. This is a comic I would be proud to share with absolutely everyone I know.

It’s a much more subtle statement than the first collection. It’s not trying to shame you for ignoring the plight of Asians in America. It’s telling good stories that are universal in relate-ability and proving that you can do so while featuring minority leads. It’s a powerful statement and one of the reasons I think this is such an important work.

Shattered is on shelves now. If you’re in the DC area and haven’t yet picked up a copy, you can come on down to Busboys and Poets on Monday from 6:30pm to 8:00pm for a signing. I suggest grabbing food at Chinatown Express before to stuff your face full of dumpling and noodle goodness.

And if you’d like to hear from some of the other contributors, here’s a list of us who have blogged about our experiences:

One More Time

Election night was an emotional nail-biter. But it didn’t last nearly as long as I expected. I full anticipated going to sleep and waking up without knowing who was going to lead our country for the next four years. I was watching a surprisingly hologram-free CNN while refreshing twitter, Facebook, the Washington Post like a mad fiend. And then they called it. At around 11pm, the major networks projected that Barak Obama had won re-election! I teared up like the hippie liberal commie freak that I am. And then I stayed up until 1am until I heard Mitt’s concession speech. I honestly wasn’t sure whether or not he’d want to drag this thing out. It’s been a long fight with some pretty hateful words from both sides. Wasn’t really sure how it would all play out after the call.

The Roundup

The biggest news for me was that Maryland and Maine have legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote! Washington and Minnesota are still counting votes on their ballot measures so we don’t know whether or not they’ll join us in the new damn millennium. But for the first time, same-sex marriage was approved by the people through popular vote! And we’ve just chosen to re-elect a President who is now very vocal about his support for same-sex marriage. I don’t think we’ll be hearing much about this in the 2016 election campaign, because by then, I damn well expect same-sex marriage to be legal in all fifty states.

The other thing that really surprised me was Washington and Colorado approving recreational marijuana use. That’s a good sign for the convenient stores and restaurants of those states. And I bet they’re going to be collecting a shit ton of tax money. This one is a little tricky because marijuana is still considered an illegal narcotic Federally. But I think it’s clear that we’re getting tired of the drug war. It might take longer than same-sex marriage, but I can totally a see a pot smoking nation in my lifetime.

Can’t forget some historical women coming to a new Congress. Illinois Representative-elect Tammy Duckworth is the first disabled female veteran to go to the House. Texas Representative-elect Mary Gonzalez is the first openly pansexual to go to the House. And Hawaii Senator-elect Mazie Hirono is the first Asian American woman to join the ranks of the Senate. I long for the day when we don’t mark these moments with qualifiers like “first woman” or “first Asian American” or “first pansexual” and just leave it at their names. But we’re getting there. And these ladies are helping pave the way.

Also, with the defeat of Aiken and Murdouck, America proved that if you say legitimately stupid shit about rape, the electorate has way to shut your shit down. Seriously guys, it’s the new damn millennium. If a woman doesn’t invite you, stay the fuck out of her vagina.

A Return to Civility?

This is wishful thinking on my part, but I hope there will be less Congressional gridlock in the next four years. Midterms are coming up in two years so it’s doubtful the election cycle of madness will ever end. But I do wish Congress would work the fuck together instead of catering to the extremes on both sides of the aisle. I just want them to work more on governing and less on re-elections. They spend more of their time campaigning and fund-raising than in their offices. It’s like their job is to keep applying for their job. That’s fucking crazy.

It’s been a long, horrible, loud campaign. I’m glad it’s finally over. But if this is the new normalcy for how these things will go, 2016 is going to be a goddamn nightmare. Still, I am hopeful about the direction the country is heading. And I think that even if Mitt had won the Presidency, I think Maryland and Maine would still have approved same-sex marriage, recreational pot would still have been legalized in Washington and Colorado, and dumb fucks would still be defeated for saying horrible shit about rape.

The Most Intricate and Fantastically Amazing Strawberry Dessert

I could watch this all day, everyday. Chef Seiji Yamaoto of RyuGin in Roppongi Tokyo is the genius behind this strawberry candy. Seeing the intricate, detailed work that goes in to creating such a masterpiece, I don’t think I could ever eat such a thing. I’m imagining a strawberry flavor that embodies to totality of the fruit. It’s absolutely so beautiful.

The restaurant has an entire YouTube channel dedicated to its creations and each one is just as fascinating and wonderful as this strawberry.

G.I. Joe Retaliation, Now With 50% More Male Stripper

G.I. Joe Retaliation was supposed to hit theaters this past June to duke it out with the other summer blockbusters. But the release date was pushed back to do reshoots. And now we know why.

Channing Tatum is now a big star thanks to his roles in Magic Mike, The Vow, and 21 Jump Street. The June 2012 version of Retaliation had him dying very early in the film to make way for a new team of Joes. The March 2013 version of Retaliation will feature more Tatum. This new trailer doesn’t seem that different from the previous ones so I’m not entirely certain how much more of Tatum we’ll see. Maybe it’ll be like the cartoon movie where Duke gets downed early on, but manages to come back at the end because Hasbro.

Meh. Whatever. Still want to see it. Bruce Willis plus The Rock plus ninja fight on a cliff equals I don’t give a shit about the plot!

Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, Now With More Eva

I haven’t been keeping up with the new Evangelion films, but the third one is set to drop November 17. Along with more Marie, I spy a new Eva unit with all the eyes. As always, the animation looks fantastic. But I’ve kind of lost steam with Evangelion. It has long lost its new anime sheen and although I really like the designs of the Evas themselves, there’s only so much emo self doubt whining attack a person can take. There’s one more movie after this and then we’ll have all the Eva anyone could ever want. Ever.

Lupe Fiasco Calls Out the “Bitch” Culture in Rap

Man, this is a rough song. In “Bitch Bad,” Lupe Fiasco likens artists like Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj to minstrel blackface entertainers who have basically come to define the current urban contemporary scene. I think it’s an important message and a call for the industry to do better. Sadly, conscious rap rarely gets regular airplay. But in two months, this video has already raked up over 2 million YouTube views.

It really seems like this is meant more for his peers in the industry than the general listening public. I know I’m listening, but are they?

Axe Cop Trick-or-Treats Alone

Next summer, Axe Cop will be headed to the small screen on Fox’s ADHD Animation block. Today, we get a preview of what that might look like. Here’s Axe Cop answering little Timmy’s question about Halloween.

And yes, that’s Nick Fucking Offerman as the voice of Axe Cop. I will now forever see Ron Swanson as Axe Cop’s disguise.

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