Quotes by: Gene Luen Yang
I think the 'Boxers' book was easier for me to envision as a comic, because they were on this epic journey. These teenagers basically gathered into this army and marched to the capital city where they had a showdown with the Europeans and Japanese. On the 'Saints' side, it was a lot trickier.
Both my mother and my father grew up in Asia, in a time of political instability. They'd earned college degrees before setting foot in the States but had to work menial jobs early on in order to make ends meet.
When I first started making comics, I was living with a bunch of guys, old college friends. We had this deal. At the end of each day, they would ask me how far I'd gotten on my comic. And if I hadn't made my goals, they were supposed to make me feel really bad about myself. They happily obliged.
I was a superhero fan in the '90s, so I'm definitely familiar with John Romita, Jr. In fact, when I was in high school, I would go to local conventions and line up and get his signature.
My brain subconsciously limits itself to panel compositions that my hand can actually draw.
Figuring out a way to balance the Boxer story with the Chinese Christians was difficult.
The rumor is Chu Hing really wanted the 'Green Turtle' to be Chinese American, but the publisher didn't think that would sell. If you read those books, the hero almost always has his back facing the camera so you can't see his face. When he turns around, his face is obscured.
I kind of just write what I like to write. I'm thankful that readers of different ages seem to connect to my stories. I don't consciously think about age demographics when I'm working on my comics.
Writing for myself and writing for another artist are two very different experiences. When I handle both the story and the art, I have full control. I can endlessly tweak every word and every line.
'Boxers' was more time consuming simply because it was longer, but 'Saints' was definitely harder. I think it's just hard to talk about faith in general.
To be able to write 'Superman,' to be able to work with the legendary artist who is John Romita Jr., I signed on as soon as I could.
Superman has been around for so long; he's been around for, what, eight decades now? And he goes through these different eras where different aspects of who he is get emphasized.
The Boxer Rebellion is a war that was fought on Chinese soil in the year 1900. The Europeans, the Japanese and their Chinese Christian allies were on one side. On the other were poor, starving, illiterate Chinese teenagers whom the Europeans referred to as the Boxers.
As I was researching, I was struck by how similar the Boxers were to Joan of Arc. Joan was basically a French Boxer. She was a poor teenager who wanted to do something about the foreign aggressors invading her homeland.
In the early '90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called 'Xombi,' published by Milestone Media.
For 'Boxers & Saints,' I started by reading a couple of articles on the Internet, then writing a really rough outline, then getting more hardcore into the research. I went to a university library once a week for a year, year and a half.
At any comic book convention in America, you'll find aspiring cartoonists with dozens of complex plot ideas and armloads of character sketches. Only a small percentage ever move from those ideas and sketches to a finished book.
I finished 'American Born Chinese' in 2005, so after that, I started actively researching the Boxer Rebellion.
For 'Boxers and Saints', the tension between Eastern and Western ways of thinking was very personal for me, and I needed to control every aspect.
I got these big coffee table books about Chinese opera from the local library, and I loved looking through them. I loved studying the intricate costumes and figuring out how to 'cartoonify' them.
I love hearing people who are smarter than me talk about my comics. It makes me feel smarter.
I've tried to write from my own understanding of identity in all my comics, whether it's about superheroes or historical conflicts or monkey gods.