"To use an Asian pen name when someone’s not of Asian descent is wild to me."

Asian American comic writers Joshua Luna and Trung Le Nguyen have responded to the revelation that Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski used an Asian pen name.

Last week, it was revealed that Marvel’s new editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulskito used to write under the name Akira Yoshida.

In a statement, Cebulski said, “I stopped writing under the pseudonym Akira Yoshida after about a year.”

“It wasn’t transparent, but it taught me a lot about writing, communication and pressure. I was young and naïve and had a lot to learn back then.”

Asian American comic writers Joshua Luna and Trung Le Nguyen spoke to HuffPost about the incident, which many are labelling “yellowface”.

“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 added that Marvel has a long history of problematic Asian representation in its comics. According to HuffPost, the ‘Iron Fist’ series had a white saviour narrative, ‘Daredevil’s ninjas were criticised for being stereotypical and The Ancient One in ‘Doctor Strange’ is an old Asian stereotype.

Tilda Swinton was criticised by many for taking on the role of The Ancient One in the film adaptation if Dr Strange.

“It makes you wonder just how many Asian comic book writers were turned away because an “Akira Yoshida” was already filling the “Asian quota,” Luna added. “This ‘Akira Yoshida’ story sends yet another message of Asian culture being desired, but not actual Asian people.”

Whilst Nguyen uses the pen name ‘Trungles’, the comic writer explains that it is more of a necessity for immigrant families.

“Asian-Americans, have had to adapt more English sounding names in great part to help ensure economic survivability for ourselves and our families. It’s a necessity for the sake of our access to professional advancement, to jobs,” Nguyen explained.

“In Cebulski’s case, he’s a white man who’s taken on a Japanese pen name, [circumventing] internal rules of employment, while also lending a veneer of credence to the purported ‘Japaneseness’ of his writing.”

 

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