D23Expo: ‘American Born Chinese’ Stars Ben Wang and Daniel Wu Talk Representation

The D23 Expo may be near its end, but that doesn’t mean the news cycle has stopped. While ot the press line, The Nerds of Color had the chance to talk to Ben Wang and Daniel Wu, the stars of the upcoming Disney+ original series, American Born Chinese.

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Disney+’s ‘American Born Chinese’ Series Finds its Cast

Shortly after Disney released Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, director Destin Daniel Cretton signed on to helm a series adaptation of Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. The genre-hopping action-comedy series is described as “a great universal story that moves between worlds and explores the impact of culture, identity, and acceptance through the lens of adolescence.” And now, the series has found its cast. 

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‘American Born Chinese’ Headed to Disney+

After smashing box office records with Shang-Chi, Disney and Destin Daniel Cretton are re-teaming on another iconic Asian American comic book. This time, the critically acclaimed and award-winning graphic novel, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, will see new life as a series on Disney+, helmed and produced by Cretton.

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My Answers to an Oft Asked Question

I have been asked some variation of the following question more times than I can count: “Which comics or graphic novels would you recommend that are by people of color, or address people of color in a holistic way, and also books for people who may not ever read a comic or graphic novel?” This is a very hard question as there is just so much out there that is great. There are books that I have taught in my classes that are neck and neck with the books I’ve bought as gifts for people who I am trying to convert to our four-color ways. While the below list is in no way comprehensive, they are my go-to books for whenever I’m asked the question. Please feel free to add your own picks.

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(Air)Bend it Like Gene Yang

Two-time National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang (@geneluenyang) joins Hard N.O.C. Life for a special episode discussing his career as an award-winning graphic novelist and his involvement in the Avatar/Korra comic universe.

Joining Keith (@the_real_chow) on the panel as well are The N.O.C.’s resident Avatar experts Julie Kang (@JulieKang) and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria (@rscspokenword). As always, Hard N.O.C. Life is directed by the indomitable Nelson Wong (@aarisings).

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Breaking Bats and Monkeys

Earlier I wrote about the endless narrative possibilities available in the superhero comics genre. Of course, comics are not the only medium to enjoy the fractal narrative. Philip Marlowe, the Continental Op, and Sherlock Holmes are ageless detectives forever solving crimes in short stories and novels. If Jet Li had so desired it, Tsui Hark would probably have made fifty more Wong Fei-Hong movies. And the Brits have the idea down with James Bond and Doctor Who.

But while the fractals can expand forever, artists given to make their own new stories and interpretations can sometimes make changes that are so drastic that they change the nature of the character the audience has come to know. Artists should of course be able to bend and experiment with characters to find new avenues, but there must be limits, no? Because the danger in the course of bending a character is the potential of breaking it.

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Boxers, Saints, and the NBA

Back in 2006, Gene Luen Yang made comic book history by being the first cartoonist to become a finalist for a National Book Award for American Born Chinese, one of the most prestigious literary honors in the country. Well, it looks like Lebron James isn’t the only two-time NBA champion since Yang has received another National Book Award nomination, this time for Boxers & Saints, his latest book from First Second.

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