When I first started this project, I was unsure of what direction to go in. The original proposal I submitted, while dealing with the subject of Asians' portrayal in comics, was larger than I had expected. This wide range of discussion (radiating from what I naively thought to be a rather singular topic) reflects one of the statements Professor Lee said in class, regarding how popular culture can be thought of as a terrain. It is in this dynamic landscape of ideas that different dimensions, such as economics, politics, and social roles clash and interact.
Upon Tom's advice, I decided to narrow down my scope to focus on a sort of timeline, one which would examine how Asians were portrayed in mainstream superhero comics. I also realized that it was not enough just to look at the political and social side of this discussion of Asians in comics (such as the yellow terror and communism), but also to think of it in economical terms (the comic industry and its readership and employees). Before I started putting the pieces together, it was hard for me to click with this idea of economy and culture. But as shown with the "Yellow Terror" and Kung Fu fad examples, they are able to act as reflections of one another.
For my project, I chose to work with primarily Marvel Comics and DC Comics characters. As one should notice, I did not include much from DC. Traditionally, DC Comics has placed its characters in a more distanced context from the real world; a number of its characters operate in fictional cities whereas Marvel comic heroes usually work in New York city. Marvel also focused more on real-world aspects, such as war (for example, DC Comics does not acknowledge the events of 9/11 in their continuity). That is not to say DC has not made significant issues, dealing with race, politics, and gender, but I felt a stronger focus on Marvel was more relevant towards the project (of course many may disagree! And if so please don't hesitate to comment on the Letters Page section!).
One of the primary reasons I chose to work with superhero comics, instead of independent comics (such as Adrian Tomine's work in Optic Nerve) was that mainstream comics arguably reached a larger majority of the public. It would be interesting therefore to see how they reacted commercially and emotionally to depictions of Asians in comic book titles. Another reason was that the genre was known to be less concerned with the everyday life of its characters in comparison to the action that they would ultimately generate. This was particularly interesting for a discussion on the portrayal of race as I wondered, if race was not going to be seen in the everyday context, then would it only be confined to conflict? The transition of race's role and artistic depiction, unfolding during the development of this site, was truly amazing.
Taking a step back and just looking at what I have so far, there are many directions to continue. For instance, 40-50 years ago, there were not many female characters, much less Asian female characters. I did not realize this until I started writing the entry on Jubilee, who in her own right is revolutionary to previous depictions of Asians. This could generate a whole new discussion. Another interesting project might just be, examining independent comics' portrayal and how they relate to mainstream comics'. One more possible expansion to this project that comes to mind is an examination of Asian American comic book writers and artists within the mainstream industry. In the next section, titled "Additional Media," I have included some videos featuring Asian American creators for your enjoyment.
Thank you for your time, and as before, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, just send an e-mail via the Letters Page.