As the comic industry grapples with the revelation that new Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski posed as an Asian writer for a year, real writers of Asian descent are speaking up.
Joshua Luna and Trung Le Nguyen, who’ve both been involved in comic projects tied to the Asian-American experience, chatted with HuffPost following Cebulski’s admission. The new editor-in-chief, confirmed that he’d written under the Japanese-sounding pseudonym “Akira Yoshida” in the early 2000s. Cebulski had even created an elaborate false backstory for Yoshida, drawing criticism from people of Asian descent who labeled his actions as “yellowface.”
Cebulski released a statement saying he had been “young and naive” at the time and the issue was “all old news that has been dealt with.” But both Luna and Nguyen feel that damage has been done.
“It’s equal parts shocking, disappointing and discouraging,” Luna told HuffPost. “It’s not necessarily strange to use a pseudonym, but to use an Asian pen name when someone’s not of Asian descent is wild to me, especially when so many actual Asians are constantly denied access to these kinds of opportunities.”
Luna explained that Cebulski’s actions sting in part because of Marvel’s long history of problematic representation of Asians in its comics. Its “Iron Fist” series has been criticized for perpetuating a white savior narrative. “Daredevil” received backlash for its ninjas who were given little more than two-dimensional, stereotypical stories. And “Doctor Strange’s” Tibetan “The Ancient One” is thought to be another incarnation of the “old Asian sage” stereotype. The list goes on, as Gizmodo points out. All these titles made it on screen and little was done to remedy the issues in the plots. In fact, actress Tilda Swinton even ended up whitewashing the part of “The Ancient One.”
What’s more, the company once blamed diversity for a dip in sales following a 2014 push for inclusion ― a claim that the Independent proved untrue as diverse stories including “Ms. Marvel” and “Black Panther” were both top selling comics.
This ‘Akira Yoshida’ story sends yet another message of Asian culture being desired, but not actual Asian people. Joshua Luna
Luna wonders that with such an attitude towards inclusion at Marvel, perhaps Cebulski’s Yoshida has harmed writers of Asian descent.
“It makes you wonder just how many Asian comic book writers were turned away…