8Questions with Brian Jian

Former 8Asians writer Brian Jian has just published his very first graphic novel, Broken Toys, Extraordinary Machines, so we’re asking him the really important questions (hint: it’s the last one).

1. Your book has a pretty intense plot. What was the inspiration?

I’m not quite sure! The “Cliff Notes TL;DR” version of that answer is “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon meets Wu Tang Clan.” 

2. I love that you dedicated Broken Toys, Extraordinary Machines to your readers. What do you hope they come away with?

There are so many options now for entertainment. For anyone to take time out of their day and spend it on anything I do, I’m extremely grateful. I’m just trying to tell a story that hopefully resonates with anyone who likes a good story, with characters who seem genuine and relatable.

3. Have you always wanted to create a graphic novel?

I was heavily into comic books and superheroes as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s (this was DECADES before this whole superhero staple in our entertainment diet). Becoming a comic book artist was probably my first career goal, but then school, college, sports, etc. got in the way. Next thing you know, 25 years have passed and I decided, “It’s now or never!”

4. What’s something you wish you’d know before you started the process?

Everything. I self published this book so it was all on my shoulders; from the drawing, writing, researching, editing, lettering, tech support. And copyrights! There was one page where I used the lyrics of a KRS One song (it fit nicely with the narrative of a scene I wrote) but thank god I looked it up and found out lyrics are copyrighted (not just the music) and you can’t print a line from Hey Jude or Hotel California without being sued. Who knew . . .

5. Ok, fun stuff. Broken Toys, Extraordinary Machines is being made into a movie. Who would you cast?

Most the characters in this story tend to skew older than the characters featured in most of the typical properties put out by our youth obsessed culture. That was completely serendipitous and not by design but I do like that it turned out that way.  My dream cast would include people like Don Cheadle, Idris Elba, Whoopie Goldberg. One of the main characters is a woman named Amaka who’s in her mid 40’s. I didn’t realize Gabrielle Union was in her mid to late 40’s! She’d be perfect!

6. What are you reading right now?

Just finished “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and just started “X” by Chuck Klosterman.

7. Where can people find your work? What’s next for you?

www.brianjian.com or instagram.com/jianbrian. I’ve already started writing/illustrating Broken Toys Extraordinary Machines Book 2!

8. And last–the classic, the most important–what is your favorite Asian comfort food?

Soup dumplings. What else?

Graphic Novel: 442; first 6 chapters have been released for free

The first six chapters of my new graphic novel “442” have been released for free on the comic reading app “Stela Unlimited”.

Written by Phinny Kiyomuraa and myself, and illustrated (in beautiful watercolor) by Robert Sato, “442” is based on one of World War II’s most compelling and important stories. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the U.S. Army’s Japanese American segregated fighting regiment. The 442nd would become the most decorated unit of the War, and the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in American history. Even with their families confined behind barbed wire in American concentration camps, these soldiers fought to rescue a Texas battalion lost behind enemy lines. A fictionalized account based on the actual events, “442” follows young Japanese Americans soldiers as they suffer prejudice, internment and terrible casualties in their battle to rescue the Lost Battalion.

“442” releases on a historic weekend. Sunday, February 19th, is known in the Japanese American community as the “Day of Remembrance” and marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 which authorized the imprisonment of up to 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, around two thirds of whom were American citizens.

Here is a sample of some of Rob’s amazing artwork:

I sat down with my collaborators and asked them a few questions:

Phinny, how did you get involved in 442?

I’m a playwright and TV writer from Long Beach, CA. My dad and all of his side of the family were sent to the camps when he was two-years-old. I eventually ended up writing a TV pilot set in an Internment Camp, called, wait for it — INTERNMENT. Super creative title. But it’s a concept that I’m very excited about — mixing a personal love for early/mid 20th-century playwriting (Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter) with the not-all-that-often-discussed history of the camps. The pilot ended up getting a reading at the Japanese American National Museum which is where I met Koji. He and I talked about the 442, and, specifically the battle to save the Lost Battalion and decided to start working together, first on a movie of this story, and, later, on this graphic novel for Stēla.

Rob, what about you?

My grandfather was in the 442. He was drafted while imprisoned in the Jerome, Arkansas camp, and fought in Europe while his parents and 4 siblings remained incarcerated, putting his life on the line for a the country that had kicked his family out of their home, stripped them of what they had worked for over the course of their lives as well as all of their personal freedoms and their American citizenship. This story feels like it’s in my bones. I grew up with it shaping a major part of my world view. How could it not? I feel perhaps I’ve taken it for granted until recently that the overall history of the Japanese American experience was known and understood by the general culture.


And Rob, why was this project so important to you?

I took this job illustrating the comic in the hope that I could help in any small way to keep telling the important and complex story of Japanese American Internment, but had no idea at the start how urgently important this part of history would feel right now. Over the course of making it, I’ve been disturbed to find how many people who I know and meet who have either never heard of Internment, or have a dim, unformed idea of what it was, why it happened, and what it means. Adding to a general sense of alarm are several articles and opinions expressed in the media that have shown that there remains in our culture both a deep ignorance of Japanese American Internment, an outright denial of historical facts, and a dismissal of its lessons, painting it as irrelevant to current events. Or worse, cynical attempts to distort its history to justify current government policy.

My goal is always for my illustrations to be good, that they help tell a story as well as possible, but in this strange period where history and the lessons it can teach seem to be slipping away either through neglect or deliberate attack, I hope that our work on “442” can help to provide further context, discussion, and help keep alive the incredible story of what happened when my grandfather and up to 120,000 other human beings, in the name of national security, were swept up in the tide of war and racist hysteria. It’s a profoundly American epic.

Phinny, what about you? Why was this project important to you?

I think the goal, generally, is to get this amazing true story out into the American consciousness. As a TV writer and screenwriter, and formerly as an actor, of Asian American heritage, it’s hard not get a little annoyed at how few stories are told about the Asian American experience in this country. There are unbelievably gripping, funny, and sad stories aching to be told. This, we think, is one of them.

For more information about Rob’s grandfather, be sure to check out these amazing links:

To check out the first six chapters or to find out more about Stela go to:

iOS App

Android App

Stela.com

Space Jam 3 Anime Parody Featuring Jeremy Lin

8A-2016-08-04-JeremyLin-SpaceJam3ParodyWith all kinds of grim videos out there from police shootings to cringe inducing videos about “Neenjas” and Xenophobic videos about Chinese buying American farms, this NigaHiga/Jeremy Lin collaboration really made my day. 

It pulls in some popular Anime characters and even has a quick jab at Pokemon Go! 

Note that Space Jam 2, the actual sequel to Space Jam, starring LeBron James, is said to be under production, with Justin Lin possibly directing.

ICYMI: Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 – Recap & Review

2016_03_19_Back_to_the_Future_Panel_Silicon_Valley_Comic_Con_2016

Back this March – Friday, March 18th to Sunday, March 20th, I had the good fortune of being able to attend the first ever Silicon Valley Comic Con. I’ve always wanted to go to Comic Con in San Diego, but it seems that year-after-year, tickets for the conference get harder and harder to get. I had only heard about the event a few weeks prior to the show – applied for a press pass online, and shortly afterwards, received confirmation for press credentials.

The idea of Silicon Valley Comic Con was first conceived by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak:

“Silicon Valley Comic Con will be a show unlike any other, as we bring together the best in technology and entertainment all under one gigantic roof,” Wozniak wrote on the convention’s official page. “There are lots of fans like me in San Francisco and the Valley, and I’m excited to finally have a Comic Con with our very own flavor. When I was growing up it was hard to be a geek. It definitely wasn’t cool back then, but I am happy that things have changed because now being a geek, or being different is cool. And Silicon Valley Comic Con celebrates being a geek!””

What got me really excited was the fact that there was going to be a “Back to the Future” (BTTF) panel with Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson. BTTF is one of my all time favorite movies, so I was pretty excited to possibly attend.

I was able to attend all three days, but not all day – Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Overall, I had a great time – though I thought the convention hall was a bit crowded and the event could have been a bit more organized (the organizers were aiming for 30,000 attendees but announced after the conference that there were over 60,000 attendees over the three days), but hiccups were to be expected since this was the first ever Silicon Valley Comic Con. Overall, I had a blast and look forward to attending Silicon Valley Comic Con 2017!

Here’s my brief recap…

Continue reading “ICYMI: Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 – Recap & Review”

8Asians News: Carrie Fisher Undresses Ming Na Wen @ Dallas Comiccon

Howdy Dallas! Who's kickin' it with me tomorrow at @dallascomiccon? I brought the LA sunshine & my cowgirl boots!

A photo posted by Ming-Na Wen (@mingna_wen) on

At the Dallas Comicon, both Carrie Fisher and Ming Na Wen were in attendance, and apparently, according to Ming Na Wen’s Instagram, they had an exchange that included some undressing. Wen claims to have the video of said interaction between these two legendary women of sci-fi action hero fame.

This. Did. Happen. Carrie Fisher is Queen!!! #unforgettablemoments #starwars #maytheforcebewithyou

A photo posted by Ming-Na Wen (@mingna_wen) on

Here is Ming Na Wen’s feature at Dallas Comicon followed by Carrie Fisher:

Best Anime MMA Walk Out Songs

Last fall, two Invicta FC fighters, Roxanne Modafferi and Jenny Liou (who will both fight in INVICTA 12 April 24th) walked out to their fights rocking out anime songs, which made me wonder, if I had become an MMA fighter, what awesome songs would I want to walk out to the cage to? First of all, the ones that Liou and Modafferi picked would definitely be on my list.

At Invicta FC 10, Modafferi walked out to “Fighting Spirit” from the anime Naruto:

I really love that song, among other Naruto soundtrack favorites. The Naruto songs have this awesome mix of modern and old, metal and traditional Japanese that is just amazing. My real love for ninjas started with Naruto, too, so mixed martial arts with Naruto music is awesome.

Modaferri actually replied to a tweet of mine saying that it was actually the wrong song.

That would probably have been this song:

More people would probably recognize that one more, but I do like the battle feel of the “Fighting Spirit” one, so maybe it was fated. ^o^

Liou and I had a nice chat one time about how awesome the two anime series Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop are, so I was cheering extra loud when I heard her walk out to the Samurai Champloo intro song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F87LlJxgZTk

Pretty legit that one is.

Here are some other anime songs that would be awesome too:
Continue reading “Best Anime MMA Walk Out Songs”

Anime Review: Hamatora


Hamatora
Similar to X-men or Heroes, in the world of the Japanese anime Hamatora, there are some individuals called Minimum Holders that are born with special abilities. The skills range from electricity manipulation to healing to extreme analytical skills. They train at the Facultas Academy to control and use their skills, and they can hire themselves and their abilities out to people.

The story is full of mystery surrounding political struggles between groups as Minimum Holders try to find their place in a society full of people that fear and hate them. This one is pretty brutal and bloody, so it’s not relaxing view. However, it’s great for anyone interested in an anime full of psychological intrigue.

Marvel Crossover with “Attack On Titan” Anime

The Japanese anime “Attack on Titan” that has been widely popular Stateside will officially be in a Marvel crossover. The image of Spiderman swinging 3-D maneuvering style past skyscrapers and giant titan monsters has been lighting up the social media streams.

8$: MARVELS – Rap Music Video About Comic Books & Superheroes

8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)

WHO: Some nerds (a rapper, a few musicians, some filmmakers) making a music video about the superheroes and stories that inspire us. Jason Chu is the rapper.

WHAT: Kickstarter project: MARVELS – a rap music video about Comic Books & Superheroes

I grew up reading Wizard Magazine. Running to my local comic book store (Captain Blue Hen Comics) to flip through Detective Comics and Spawn back issues. Groaning at the Spider-Clone saga and collecting variant covers. They weren’t just pictures on paper: these were our role models. Our heroes. Our legends.

As I get older, real-life issues have overshadowed my dreams of heroes and villains: ISIS. Ebola. Ferguson. The job market. Divorce. Cancer.

But even – especially – in this complicated grown-up world, part of me still clings to the childish notion that we need heroes. That their stories of justice, truth, and bringing hope to the powerless… might actually be true.

My creative team and I have been working on a new project code-named MARVELS. It’s a music video about the heroes who taught us how to dream.

8A-2014-11-02-JasonChu-MARVELS

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Thursday, November 20, 2014 (6:00pm PT).

WHY:

MARVELS is a video inspired by floppies and trade paperbacks. Age of Apocalypse, Fables, and Kingdom Come (Alex Ross, not Jay-Z). Incredible Hulk #181 and the Bone Complete Collected Epic.
It’s a love letter to every unsettled “Superman vs. Batman?” argument, small town comic-con, and the bagged and boarded collection still sitting in long boxes in my mom’s basement.

MARVELS is a story about a kid who looks up to superheroes, but grows disillusioned. It’s about real supervillains: Cancer. Addiction. Broken relationships. It’s about a young man who learns how to dream again.

MARVELS is not MY story, but OURS: the kids who read, watched, and gamed because we knew, hidden beneath our awkward youth, we were secretly already heroes. The kids who, like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Aang, felt trapped in a society confused and scared of what it didn’t understand.

Gene Luen Yang Revives The First Asian American Superhero

As featured on NPR’s Code Switch, Illustrator Sonny Liew and accomplished writer and graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang collaborate to bring the “Green Turtle” back to life in The Shadow Hero, and with an Asian American based origin story no less.

YouTube: If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say

Well, this video starring Jenny Yang and Eugene Yang was posted on YouTube by Buzzfeed Yellow back in the first week of June, but I still think of the video from time-to-time.

I just took a look, and the video has had over *4 million* views! A lot of the stuff that “white people say,” I can relate to. Thought I’d post for posterity’s sake.

I remember when I started my first job out of college in Connecticut, within the first week I started, when I said I was born-and-raised in Massachusetts, an older colleague of mine asked, “No, where are you really from?” Though as I had blogged before, when I was getting my passport renewed a few years ago in San Francisco, I was asked if I was at there to get my citizenship. WTF?

I really like when the Asian American guy says to the white woman, “You know, I’m really into white girls.” If I were an Asian American woman, I can’t even imagine being on the receiving end of a line from a white guy who would openly say, “You know, I’m really into Asian women.”

Glad to see this video has gone viral and is so popular!

Chloe Bennet’s Chinese Pop Music Video

After finding out that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Chloe Bennet was actually a popstar in China as a teen, I was curious and searched for some videos of her singing in Chinese, and here it is, posted above. Very bubblegum, very pop, of course. Personally, I enjoyed this one a lot more.