by Guest Contributor Joesph Shahadi, originally published at Vs. the Pomegranate
On my way out the door to attend the first-ever Asian American Comic Con in New York City last week I turned on the TV to keep my (awesome, but needy) dog company and suddenly my apartment was filled with the Owen Wilson/Jackie Chan vehicle Shanghai Noon. I averted my eyes (I can’t look at Owen Wilson’s face… I am sure he is a nice person who loves his mom but his nose, with its various planes and levels, is like an SAT math question). I changed the channel but not before Wilson could point that dodecahedron at the camera and say “She’s not the killer. She’s just a very, very, very, hot confused Chinese girl.” I looked at the dog and said, “Boy, these personal ads just write themselves, don’t they?” The dog gave me nothing so I settled on a soothing infomercial about mineral-based makeup, and left for the Con. But the random intrusion of that orientalist/sexist joke was a weird preface to the rest of the afternoon.
The Asian American Comic Con was presented by Secret Identities Media (the folks who gave us Secret Identities: the Asian American Superhero Anthology), The Asian American Writers workshop, Greg Pak’s Asianamericancomics.com and the Museum of Chinese in America, in whose beautiful new building the event was held. While it was modest compared to the San Diego Comic Con International, which has become the mother ship of pop culture, the first year of the AACC was impressive in its scope. The Con was designed along three separate workshop tracks: “Reading Comics”, “Making Comics”, and the “Spotlight Track”, which featured comic book industry professionals like Pak, Khoi Phan, Larry Hama and others. Organizing the event this way acknowledges that comic books have become a force in setting trends for mainstream pop culture and in a more academic sense, as models for looking at stuff like ethnic representations in popular media. According to the program, “ You might want to think of the ‘con’ as representing not ‘convention’, but ‘conference’—or even ‘conversation.’” Hmm. Interesting. Read the Post Pop Mythology, Buying and Selling: A Report from the First Asian American Comic Con