Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University in collaboration with the NYU Fales Library & Special Collections presents--MARVELS AND MONSTERS: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 The William F. Wu Collection at NYU Fales Library & Special Collections
Opening Reception and Talk with William F. Wu and Curator Jeff Yang
Over four decades that included some of the most turbulent times in our nation's history, science fiction author and cultural studies scholar William F. Wu painstakingly gathered an archive of comics distinguished not only by its size and reach, but by its scope: It is perhaps the only, and certainly the largest, collection of comic books featuring images of Asians and Asian Americans. Marvels and Monsters draws from this important collection, recently donated with the help of A/P/A Institute to the NYU Fales Library & Special Collections.
Marvels and Monsters takes the most potent and indelible examples of such images from the thousands in Wu's collection, and organizes them around the archetypes they reflect and sustain — The Alien, the Kamikaze, the Brute, the Lotus Blossom, the Guru, the Brain, the Temptress, the Manipulator — while placing them within both a historical context and a discourse with contemporary Asian American writers and creators including Ken Chen, V.V. Ganeshananthan, Larry Hama, David Henry Hwang, Naomi Hirahara, Genny Lim, Greg Pak, Vijay Prashad, and Gene Luen Yang. The exhibition also contains elements designed to encourage direct engagement with the archetypes, such as life-sized cutouts that allow visitors to put themselves "inside the image" and an installation called "Shades of Yellow" that matches the shades used for Asian tones in the comics with their garish PantoneTM color equivalents. It ends with a library of present-day graphic novels by Asian American creators — showing how their influx into the industry has transformed how Asians are depicted — and an area that offers visitors the ability to color original heroes designed by Bernard Chang (Supergirl) and Jef Castro-Cifra and Jerry Ma (Secret Identities).