It’s that time of the week again… Lego Asians time!
I know, Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom can be controversial in Asian American circles. After all, when’s the last time you saw an Asian or Asian American hero with a diminutive white sidekick? (And no, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons don’t count. I think Parsons is taller.) Also, it’s weird that Short Round referenced fortune cookies, an American invention, even though he grew up in Asia.
On the plus side, the dude can drive even though he’s only eleven and he clearly kicked much butt.
Thien’s short. His head is round. He and I teach at the same school and if a kid disrepects me, Thien will tell them, “You call him Mr. Yang, doll!”
As my friendship with Thien developed, I became more and more of a Short Round fan. In fact, I’m thinking about buying me a leather jacket and him a Yankees baseball cap. So thanks, Thien, for making me feel like a 1940s action hero!
I don’t think the Short Round minifig does the character justice. First, his baseball cap is a generic white. Second, he’s a stubby and can’t sit down. How’s he’s supposed to drive if he can’t sit down?!
Speaking of Short Round, Thien Pham has a new book out called Sumo. It’s a beautifully drawn tale about an American football player trying to make it in the world of Japanese sumo wrestling. Go buy it now!
Moye Ishimoto of G4 mentions Level Up on Fresh Ink Online!
Thanks, Moye! You’re the best!
Level Up, my graphic novel with Thien Pham, got nominated for an Eisner for Best Publication for Young Adults!
We’re up against some stiff competition! If you haven’t read Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost or any of the other YA nominees, do yourself a favor and go read one today.
Congratulations to all the nominees! Full list here.
Thanks, Eisner judges! It’s truly an honor!
Right before our graphic novel Level Up was released, Thien Pham and I drew strips explaining the book’s origins. Below is mine, which was originally published by Wired.com’s GeekDad blog. (Click to enlarge.) You can find Thien’s here.
At the Alternative Press Expo last weekend, someone saw Level Up on our table and told me about an organization called Graphic Medicine. (I don’t remember your name! Sorry! But you were awesome.) It was started by a guy named Ian Williams, and they’re all about finding ways to use comics in healthcare! Here’s a snippet from their website’s introduction:
My name is Ian Williams. I did an MA in medical humanities (looking at the discourse of medicine using the conceptual tools of the arts and humanities). I wrote a dissertation on medical narrative in graphic novels. it is my contention that comic/graphic fiction could be a useful resource for healthcare professionals, patients and carers. in this site i list and briefly review all the graphic novels and comic books that i have found to be relevant. I do keep finding more, however, and so will be adding reviews as I read the books.
Looks like there are all sorts of links and resources on their website. They even hold conferences on the topic! Check out GraphicMedicine.org here.
Sohaib I. Awan talked to Thien and I about Level Up for the Fictional Frontiers Radio Show. As usual, Thien and I ended up bickering in front of a gracious host we just met. Thanks for putting up with us (and by “us” I really mean “Thien”), Sohaib.
Listen to the whole thing here.
A couple months before Level Up was released co-creator Thien Pham and I had this awesome idea of doing podcasts for the month leading up to the book’s release. Thien’s already a veteran podcaster– he’s been doing Comics Claptrap with Rina Ayuyang for years now. He’s really good at it, mostly because he’s good at talking trash and making stupid stuff sound funny.
Anyway, we did three of these (instead of the intended five) but didn’t have our act together, so we weren’t able to release them before the book came out.
This is two months late, but here’s the first episode, featuring Editor Extraordinaire Calista Brill!
Calista works for our publisher First Second Books. She edited Level Up, which means she had to put up with our shenanigans for YEARS until the book was done. Listen closely. Thien constantly tries to get her to talk trash, and she artfully dodges every time.
Wanna watch Thien and I argue when we’re supposed to be answering interview questions? Of course you do. Who doesn’t? Check it out here.
Pham, on the other hand, is an artist whose instincts seem to be almost directly contrary to Yang’s. He’s minimalist and almost childlike in his renderings. He’s essentially a minicomics guy given slick paper and the opportunity to use watercolors. His main flaw as an artist has always been his sloppiness, especially in terms of lettering and balloon placement. Working with Yang tightened up some of those flaws, while working with Pham helped loosen up Yang and let his pages breathe a bit more. It’s perhaps not coincidental that Level Up features Yang’s best-realized, most human set of characters.
It’s awesome to get a mostly positive review from The Comics Journal, especially considering the kick-in-the-nards reviews I’ve gotten from them in the past*, but I am going to hear about this one from Thien over and over and over again for the next few months. And over again. Especially this line:
That said, Level Up represents a step forward in his development as a writer, in part because of his choice of Thien Pham as his illustrator for this story.
I can already see his smile now. He is just not gonna let that one go. Read the whole thing here.
*Side note: Kick-in-the-nards reviews hurt, but I am grateful to The Comics Journal for their courage in printing them. No medium can truly mature without reviewers who are willing to do that. And the comics industry, especially indie comics industry, is so small that you’re usually kicking the nards of someone who’s two degrees away from you at most.