Secret Identities Universe+Shattered

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Definitely sounds like something I'd want to have at my school...if I owned a school.

The creators of the groundbreaking Asian American comics anthology SECRET IDENTITIES are back, bringing together the most exciting Asian American talents in comics and beyond for SHATTERED — a brand new collection that upends and subverts the negative and cliché stereotypes that have haunted Asian America for generations.

Now, the SI UNIVERSE team is preparing to go on the road with a unique interactive, multimedia program designed to bring the historical context and sociological consequences of these stereotypes to life — incorporating both the ideas and stories of SHATTERED and the rich artifacts of its thematic companion, the acclaimed museum exhibition “MARVELS & MONSTERS: Unmasking the Asian Image in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986,” curated by SHATTERED editor-in-chief Jeff Yang.

“SHATTERED and MARVELS & MONSTERS evolved side by side, and share a common structure —they both explore a set of pervasive archetypes that have shaped how America has seen Asians for the past 200 years,” says Yang. “MARVELS & MONSTERS shows how these images have been internalized in American popular culture — and SHATTERED brings together some of Asian America’s most talented and celebrated creators to reinvent and subvert those images. This tour is our way of bringing the two together, and getting them in front of as many people as possible.”

SHATTERED Tour programming includes one or more of the following:

A live multimedia presentation by SI UNIVERSE’s creators, featuring images, video, and audio;
An interactive “Build a Hero/Villain” workshop, in which SI UNIVERSE artists and editors work with the audience in real time to develop and draw an original superhero or arch-villain that reflects a complex, nuanced, and authentic cultural identity;
Kiosk installations that showcase the history, cultural context, and comic book depiction of the five pop-culture archetypes addressed in SHATTERED: the stoic Brute (coolies, gangsters, henchmen, and martial artists); the cerebral Brain (mad scientists, ancient wise men, maladroit nerds, and overachieving whiz kids); the exotic Temptress (the sensual femme fatale of a thousand faces); the inscrutable Alien (the eternal foreigner, utterly incomprehensible, totally unassimilable); and the devious Manipulator (puppet master and conspirator who seeks to control and conquer from the shadows); and
Guided breakout sessions that allow deeper sharing and discussion of the personal impact of stereotypes on participants’ real lives.

The SI UNIVERSE team is currently in discussions to bring the tour to schools and community groups in a series of major U.S. cities including, but not limited to Boston, Chicago, New York, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. If your school, museum or other institution is interested in hosting the tour, please visit the official website and fill out the form located at, or contact Keith Chow, SI Universe Outreach Director, at

The pioneering collection SECRET IDENTITIES looked at the Asian American experience through the lens of superhero comics; its sequel, SHATTERED, expands its horizon to include edgier genres, from hard-boiled pulp to horror, adventure, fantasy, and science fiction. Using this darker range of hues, it seeks to subvert the hidebound stereotypes that have obscured the Asian image since the earliest days of immigration: the stoic brute, the prodigious brain, the exotic temptress, the inscrutable alien, the devious manipulator.

Its eclectic and impressive lineup of contributors includes many leading comics creators, including Bernard Chang, Greg Pak, Takeshi Miyazawa, Gene Yang, Ming Doyle, Sonny Liew, Sean Chen, GB Tran, Christine Norrie, and Larry Hama; as well as stars from other media such as rapper Adam WarRock, slam poet Bao Phi, filmmaker Michael Kang, author Jamie Ford; and many more! Their original graphic short stories cover topics from ethnic kiddie shows, China’s AIDS policy, and airline security procedures to the untold backstory of Flash Gordon’s nemesis and the gritty reality of a day in the life of a young Koreatown gangster.

Eisner-winning graphic novelist Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference) calls SHATTERED “a highly eclectic grab bag,” while best-selling YA author David Yoo (The Detention Club) says, “there truly is something for everyone… these stories are all ridiculously unputdownable!” Spoken word artist Beau Sia says SHATTERED “would have been a truly beneficial graphic novel to have while growing up, unsure of my place in the world.” And Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, calls SHATTERED “a visual delight that envisions how the rich tradition of American comics is an Asian American experience. The result? A novel and entertaining form of empowerment.” SHATTERED incorporates thrills, chills, and delight while exposing the hidden issues and vital truths of the nation’s fastest-growing and most dynamic community, and features a cover designed by DC Comics' superstar Cliff Chiang.

New York University's Asia/Pacific/American Institute commissioned SECRET IDENTITIES editor-in-chief Jeff Yang to curate MARVELS & MONSTERS on behalf of NYU’s Fales Library, which had received a bequest of a unique collection of comic books gathered by science fiction author and cultural studies scholar William F. Wu over the course of four decades of adult life. The Wu collection wasn't notable for its size or the rarity of its contents; what distinguished this archive was its subject — Wu had spent dozens of years painstakingly gathering and organizing mainstream comics that presented images of Asians and Asian Americans, creating a fascinating timeline of evolving social and cultural perceptions from 1942 to 1986, a span that was among the most turbulent period in relations between the U.S. and Asia, when America was engaged in nearly continuous conflict with Asian powers, while also opening its doors to large-scale immigration from Asia for the first time in its history.

Yang, who with the SI UNIVERSE team was in the process of working on SHATTERED, developed the book and the exhibit side by side, using the common theme of illustrating a set of persistent archetypes that still define Asians in the popular eye as exotic foreigners, cerebral nerds, impassive brutes, fiendish manipulators, and sultry seductresses. In MARVELS & MONSTERS, these depictions — originating in racist editorial cartoons and xenophobic propaganda — are seen in hyperreal, four-color form in a medium conceived of as children's entertainment. The full show has been exhibited in New York, Philadelphia, and Purdue University in Indiana and is headed for Los Angeles in Fall 2013. A pop-up mobile version of the show is being developed as part of the SHATTERED tour.

For more information on SHATTERED and real-time updates on the SHATTERED tour, follow the Secret Identities Universe on Twitter at @SIUniverse; on Facebook at; or visit the website at

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