The Shadow Hero #3 is Out!

April 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

The third digital issue of The Shadow Hero is out!  The Shadow Hero is the origin story of The Green Turtle, an obscure Golden Age character who is arguably the first Asian American superhero.  I did the writing, Sonny Liew did the art.

Check out some reviews of The Shadow Hero #3 here:

Comic Bastards
Fanboy Comics
GeekRex
The Pullbox

In this chapter we introduce Mock Beak, one of the major antagonists of the series.

When I first sent Sonny the script, he thought Mock Beak was inspired by Mr. Han from the Bruce Lee classic Enter The Dragon.  He’s not.  He’s actually inspired by a real-life Chinese-American gangster known as Mock Duck.

Tongs – Chinese gangs – have been in the news lately because they played a key part in Senator Leland Yee’s downfall.  For the most part, though, Tongs are pretty quiet these days.

At the turn of the century, however, Tongs were a big part of Chinatown life.  They orchestrated most of the violent crime, drug trafficking, and prostitution in Chinatown.  Sai Wing Mock, or Mock Duck, was one of the most notorious Tong leaders. He led the Hip Sing Tong in Manhattan.  From what I can gather, he was a pretty intense guy.  He liked flaunting diamond jewelry and regularly wore a vest made of chain mail.  He even made it onto Maxim’s list of Top 5 Ballsiest Criminals of All Time. You can read more about him on Wikipedia.

And we hope you’ll also read about the fictional character inspired by him in The Shadow Hero miniseries on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, or B&N Nook!

Eisner Awards 2014

April 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

They announced the 2014 Eisner Award nominations yesterday, and Boxers & Saints was nominated for Best Publication for Teens!  Actually, three of the six books in my category are from First Second Books. As a former high school teacher, I’m really proud to be a part of a team that’s serving that age group so well.

Congrats to all the other nominees!  So many friends on the list:  Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, Alex Puviland, Cecil Castellucci, Faith Erin Hicks, Kazu Kibuishi, Paul Pope, Frank Cammuso, Zander Cannon…  I’m super-excited that Zander Cannon’s Heck was nominated.  Great book.  Check it out if you haven’t already.  You can find the full list here.

LA Times Book Fest 2014

April 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

I had a blast at the LA Times Book Fest last weekend.  First, Boxers & Saints won the LA Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature!  I was listed alongside some of our very best YA authors: Elizabeth Knox (Mortal Fire), Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl), Joyce Sidman (What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings), and Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase).

I also got to hang out with some really amazing people. (Just a warning — I’m about to name-drop like NOBODY’S BUSINESS.)

The lighting makes Rainbow and me look like a panel out of Frank Miller's Sin City.

The lighting makes Rainbow and me look like a panel out of Frank Miller’s Sin City.

I met Rainbow Rowell for the first time and we connected over 80′s comics.  She’s currently working a graphic novel with Faith Erin Hicks, one of my favorite cartoonists ever, for First Second Books.  It’ll blow your mind when it comes out, I guarantee.

Selfie with John Green. Bucket List Item #146, check.

Selfie with John Green. Bucket List Item #146, check.

I also got to hang out with John Green, albeit briefly.  He and I first met when we were both honored by the Printz Awards folks way back in 2007.  Since then, John’s become a full-blown rock star.  I shared a golf cart ride with him from one venue to another (golf carts to authors are like limos to rappers, in case you didn’t know), and women freely professed their love for him from the street.  I wanted to too, but that’d be weird, right?  To get off the golf cart just to yell “I love you” at John Green?

Cecil and me bein' fancy.

Cecil and me bein’ fancy.

In a Venn diagram of the book industry and the comic book industry, Cecil Castellucci fits right in that overlap space.  She write both YA novels and comics.  Odd Duck, her GN with Sara Varon, just got nominated for an Eisner Award!  (Congratulations, Cecil!)  She’s also one of the funniest people ever.  Whenever she does an impression of… well, anybody, she makes them sound like Chris Farley.  Hilarious.

After this photo, Laurie Halse Anderson went to author talks to fill her mind.  I went to that table behind us to fill my stomach.

After this photo, Laurie Halse Anderson went to author talks to fill her mind. I went to that table behind us to fill my stomach.

Laurie Halse Anderson and I did a panel with Eliot Schrefer and Jason Reynolds at PLA a couple months back.  It was one the best panels I’ve ever been a part of.  Laurie was speaking at the LA Times Book Fest on Sunday, but she came on Saturday just to attend talks by other authors.  Professional development.  I guess that’s how you become Laurie Halse Anderson — you never stop learning.

The Runaway Mommy

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

runawaymommy

Jane Kuo, a friend of mine from college, recently released a lovely children’s book (or maybe parents’ book?) called The Runaway Mommy.  The illustrations by Scott Rim are charming, and anyone who’s in the midst of the heaven and the hell of parenthood will be able to relate.  Jane’s story reminds parents of what they had to give up, but also argues that it was worth it.

Ten Reasons Toph Beifong Should Be Your Hero

March 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 1 will be available at your local comic shop tomorrow!  (It’ll be out in bookstores on March 18.)  The Rift is arguably the most Toph-ilicious comic book ever — the entire story focuses on our favorite Metalbender’s friendship with the Avatar.

In celebration, I present to you ten reasons why Toph Beifong makes for a better hero than ten-years-from-now you (which, let’s be honest, is just kind of weird).

10. She can make a monster face out of a couple of cucumber slices and some mud.

9. She didn’t need some stupid human to teach her earthbending. She learned straight from the source.

8. Earth angels.

7. At the age of twelve, she kicked (the Avatar version of) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s butt.

6. Her unique personal grooming habits.

5. She knows how to fancy it up when she needs to.

4. She sticks up for her friends.

3. She figured out how to do the impossible.

2. This line. Ha ha.

1. She is the Melon Lord!!!

Boxers & Saints shortlisted for the LA Times Book Prize!

February 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

Boxers & Saints was nominated for the LA Times Book Prize in the Young Adult Literature category!  What an honor to be listed alongside Elizabeth Knox, Rainbow Rowell, Joyce Sidman, and Jonathan Stroud! Thank you, LA Times!

Check out all the lists here.

Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 5

February 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

All this week, Sonny and I are taking you behind the scenes of our new comic The Shadow Hero! Buy the digital first issue of The Shadow Hero on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, or B&N Nook for a mere $0.99!

Here are the previous posts, in case you missed them:

Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 1
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 2
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 3
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 4

Here are the script, thumbnail sketches, and Sonny’s final art for page 5:

SCRIPT

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THUMBNAIL SKETCHES

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FINAL ART

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This is the last of this week’s behind-the-scenes posts.  I hope you enjoyed them!  I also hope you see just how incredible Sonny Liew is.  He transformed my crude thumbnails into a living, breathing story.

Check out The Shadow Hero #1 and let us know what you think!  What have you got to lose?  Besides 99 cents?

Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 4

February 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

All this week, Sonny and I are taking you behind the scenes of our new comic The Shadow Hero! Buy the digital first issue of The Shadow Hero on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, or B&N Nook for a mere $0.99!

Here are the previous posts, in case you missed them:

Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 1
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 2
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 3

Here are the script, thumbnail sketches, and Sonny’s final art for page 4:

SCRIPT

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THUMBNAIL SKETCHES

1-004-th

FINAL ART

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Folks who read the preview copies of The Shadow Hero have asked me if Hank’s mom is based on my mom.

Nope.  My mom is much less “tiger-y” than Hank’s mom.  She has artistic inclinations, so she understood my love of comics.  That’s not to say that she didn’t also have a practical side.  She did force me to take summer school Physics alongside my Intro to Comics Illustration class.

Hank’s mom is based on some of the ladies at the church my family attended when I was a kid.  Don’t get me wrong, they were amazing people, but they were also very… well…

Read the comic and you’ll know what I mean.  Especially if you grew up in an Asian American church.

More tomorrow!

Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 3

February 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

All this week, Sonny and I are taking you behind the scenes of our new comic The Shadow Hero! Buy the digital first issue of The Shadow Hero on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, or B&N Nook for a mere $0.99!

Here are the previous posts, in case you missed them:

Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 1
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 2

Here are the script, thumbnail sketches, and Sonny’s final art for page 3:

SCRIPT

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THUMBNAIL SKETCHES

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FINAL ART

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Hank Chu, the protagonist of The Shadow Hero, barely shows up in the first issue.  Instead, the focus is on his immigrant parents.  I’m sure that breaks some sort of writing rule somewhere.  I recently read Save The Cat, so Blake Snyder’s writing advice has been swirling in my head.  As I was writing, I debated the choice of keeping Hank in the background for so long.  In the end, I stuck with it because I feel it mirrors the experience of the immigrant’s kid.  Often the “inciting incident” for a central tension in our lives – the tension between cultures – occurred before we were born.  Hope you’ll read the comic and let me know if you think the choice was a good one.

More tomorrow!

Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 2

February 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

Today is the day!  Sonny Liew and I revive the Green Turtle, the first Asian American superhero!

The Shadow Hero #1 hits the digital shelves of Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, and B&N Nook! Buy it now for the low, low price of 99 cents!

All this week, Sonny and I are sharing our behind-the-scene material with you. Check out character designs on Sonny’s blog, and here’s my post from yesterday in case you missed it.

Here’s the script, thumbnail sketches, and Sonny’s final art for the second page:

SCRIPT

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THUMBNAIL SKETCHES

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FINAL ART

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In Chu Hing’s original comics, the Green Turtle has this weird turtle-shaped shadow that pops up from time to time.

GT-Panel04

No explanation is given, and it seems more like a design element than anything else.

In The Shadow Hero, Sonny and I made the turtle-shaped shadow into a character.  I wanted him to be the source of the Green Turtle’s power, and i also wanted to tie him into Chinese mythology.  I thought it’d be cool if the thing that made the Green Turtle an American superhero had roots in his Chinese heritage.

In our comic, the turtle-shaped shadow is Xuanwu, the Black Tortoise from the Four Symbols of the Chinese Constellations.  Xuanwu (玄武) can be translated Dark Warrior or Mysterious Soldier…  Shadow Hero.

More tomorrow!

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