Iron Man: Asian Heritage Month

May 1, 2017

When Jerry Ma(Secret Identities, LEGEND) reached out to me among other artist pals in joining him to do something for Asian Heritage Month, I was pretty psyched(particularly considering who else Jerry had asked). Jerry and I had talked about this a couple of times since(that's his art director/editor experience kicking in, making sure that I hadn't forgotten about this) and discussed something that's been in the news a lot, whitewashing/appropriation in our favorite media. As a course correction plan of attack, Jerry had suggested that some of the drawings the group could look to do is reimagining comic characters as Asian Americans.

 

The easy way for me to approach this is draw an anime/KPop hairstyle on a guy/girl in costume and call it a day. But since Jerry and I had been talking about this for a while already, I wanted to put some thought into this. And this lead to picking Iron Man to go at first.

 

 

 

This made sense to me for a couple of reasons beyond the obvious "Asians rock at tech" trope(and that, depending upon the artist, pre movie IM was often drawn to look Asian).

 

Keeping with his origin(weapon maker kidnapped and held in a country both abused and abusing his company's weapons), now add in the story line of a first generation American. Because this back story can be so greatly enriched with the introduction of the father in China. How his political contacts influenced his life decisions up to but not ending at him bringing his family to America. Was it just to have a better life for his family? Were there at any time ulterior motives? Did his feelings on that remain strong, or did they change as he watched his son grow up? And how did all of this relate overall to the country that takes Tony? Was it personal? Was it a strike at China in it's sphere of influence?

 

Now, consider the IM/Cap bromance. Tony's sense(or lack of) of a different cultural view can lead to a much fuller set of discussions with the "American ideal" on everything. How strong a government influence/control should be obeyed. Deference to the older generation. Starting from a position that America can't always be right. EVERYTHING that made up their conflict leading to Civil War(both comics and movie) immediately becomes more rich and textured, and not just two white guys mansplaining at each other.

 

So I hoe that you can see that I did not approach this lightly, and I can't wait to see what everyone else involved does!

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