Library of Congress names graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang (“Boxers and Saints”) as Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

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New York Times (by George Gene Gustines):

Gene Luen Yang often mines his life for his graphic novels. He has explored being a first-generation American, and harnessed his love of computer programming. Starting this week, he will have a whole new experience to draw on.

On Monday, the Library of Congress is to name Mr. Yang the national ambassador for young people’s literature, the first graphic novelist to be so honored since the post was created in 2008.

When I was coming up in the ’90s, the comic book industry and the book industry were largely separate — they had their own awards, distribution systems and stores,” Mr. Yang said in a telephone interview from his home in San Jose, Calif. But now, “these worlds are really converging in interesting ways.”

Mr. Yang’s stories leapfrog genres and often pose questions about acceptance, identity and culture. Perhaps his best-known graphic novel is “American Born Chinese,” about Jin Wang, a boy who has trouble fitting in when he moves to a new school in the suburbs. The New York Times greeted the book as “a dark exploration of Asian-American adolescence” that blends two cultures “in inventive, unexpected ways.”

An excerpt from Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel “American Born Chinese” (2006). CreditGene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese,” published by First Second in 2006, achieved a couple of firsts for a graphic novel: It was a finalist for a National Book Award and it won the Michael L. Printz Award. It also received an Eisner Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the comic book world, for best graphic album.

His other books include “Boxers and Saints” (2013), a work of historical fiction with dollops of mysticism set during the Boxer Rebellion in China; and “Secret Coders” (2015), illustrated by Mike Holmes, about students solving mysteries at an unsettling school. (The text slyly teaches readers basic computer coding.) In June Mr. Yang joined the group of writers working on Superman for DC Comics.

Mr. Yang, 42, the son of Chinese immigrants, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began drawing at 2, he said, and “I basically never stopped.” His gateway for comic books was Superman, which he began reading in fifth grade. Marvel’s Fantastic Four and Spider-Man soon followed. He started creating his own comics. “I was always interested in telling stories through drawings,” he recalled.

At the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Yang majored in computer science partly to please his father, who wanted him to pursue something practical, and minored in creative writing. He worked as a computer engineer for two years after graduating and then began teaching computer science at a high school, a job that lasted 17 years. He gave it up only when his travels in support of his books began to involve too much time away.

Secret Coders,” released in September, was inspired partly by his teaching experience. “What I wanted to do was combine a narrative with lessons,” he said. “You ought to be able to do basic programming from reading the first volume.” Mr. Yang is also running an art contest related to the book to encourage readers to try some basic programming.

Mr. Yang also taps his background for his work with DC Comics. “When DC approached me, ‘Superman as the prototypical immigrant’ was one of my first thoughts,” he wrote in an email. He noted that dual identities are a daily reality for the children of immigrants. “Many of us use one name at home, another at school,” he said. “We move between two different sets of expectations the way many superheroes do.” When he recounted Superman’s origin story in an issue published in November as part of an adventure set in Oakland, Calif., he gave the superhero some immigrant anxieties about belonging.

In reflecting on his new role as ambassador, Mr. Yang said he found his wife, Theresa, a development director for an elementary school, a tremendous resource. He said that he was inspired by her program for encouraging students to read and write in different genres and that she was enthusiastic about the ambassadorship. His children — a son and three daughters — are a little harder to satisfy.

It is difficult to impress any kid that you see on a daily basis,” Mr. Yang said. The same is true of his children’s reactions to his books, though all of them are avid readers. “They tell me they like them, but they like other people’s books better than mine.


Artist re-imagines political bigwigs as fearsome mechanized transforming robots

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RocketNews 24 (by KK Miller):

The leaders of countries are like super heroes on the political world stage to some people. So why not envision them as Autobots, the heroes of the Transformers franchise?

Artist Gunduz Agayev has transformed a number of the world’s political leaders with his art, mashing together heads of state with instantly recognizable vehicles from their country. The floor of the UN national assembly would be very different if everyone could transform into these alien robots.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin

President of USA Barack Obama

President of Turkey Erdogan

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Queen Elizabeth (United Kingdom)

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei


Hajime Sorayama “Sexy Robot” standing model

Hajime Sorayama  Sexy Robot  Standing Model
Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama has been drawing his “sexy robot” since the mid-’80s, solidifying his masterpiece work all over Japan and even in the States for publications such as Heavy Metal.
Now you can buy one “Sexy Robot” standing model for 150,000 yen (about $1,200). Limited to 100 pieces, the creation is 300mm in height, then coming with a signed guarantee of authenticity courtesy of Sorayama himself, and packaged in a special premium box. It is scheduled to ship in October.

Artist depicts kill count of major Dragon Ball heroes in cool illustrations


RocketNews 24:

Insofar as you can say that a character in the Dragon Ball  universe can really “die” (Krillin has supposedly “died” so many times we’re suspicious he’s actually a Terminator) there have been a lot of major deaths in the franchise, and the large majority of those kills are, unsurprisingly, at the hands of the series’ primary protagonists.

Even though the series is ostensibly a kids’ show, the weighty subject matter, with battles often fought to determine whether or not entire worlds and/or solar systems will be blown up, basically demands that somebody’s gotta give up the ghost once in a while. But it’s hard to get a handle on the true extent of the carnage, given that every major death is typically punctuated by nine episodes of people yelling and grunting.

Now, though, we can finally get an at-a-glance picture of how many kills each hero in the series has racked up, thanks to these neat illustrations by DeviantArtist, Alberto Cubatas.

It’s not entirely clear what medium Cubatas used to put together these amazingly detailed pieces which emulate series creator Akira Toriyama’s art style to a T, but to our (admittedly untrained) eyes, it looks a hell of a lot like they’re hand-drawn and colored. So far, Cubatas has put together kill-count illustrations for series heroes Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, Yamcha, and Trunks:







Now, I’m not going to even pretend that I know who most of these murdered villains are – which explains why, to me, Goku’s kills kind of just make him look like a serial animal abuser – but it’s clear that Cubatas has done a pretty exhaustive job of representing each character’s victories. Still, we’re well aware a lot of our readers are hardcore DBZ fans. If you notice Cubatas has missed a corpse or two, sound off in the comments section below.

Be sure to check out Alberto’s page over on DeviantArt.

“Death Note” TV drama set to air this summer!

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RocketNews 24:

There has been a successful anime, a trio of movies, various games and even a musical, but one form of media the Death Note series has been noticeably missing is a TV drama.

But just like an entry into the infamous Death Note itself, a one-line news report revealed that a live-action drama was finally in the works. And we’ll be seeing it a lot sooner than you think!

It’s been nine years since writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata finished their thrilling story of Light Yagami and L that answered the question, “What would you do if you could decide who died and when?

For Light, the easily bored high school genius, he wanted to use the Death Note to cleanse the world of all evil, or what he judged as evil. His nemesis/counterpart, the eccentric, candy loving detective L, strongly opposed the killings, and tried to do whatever he could to stop “Kira”, Light’s alias.

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With a continually strong fan base around the globe, it’s a bit of a surprise that a major announcement appeared between panels of a comic and with it, the only information that’s been released so far: a July start-date for the series.

What can we expect from the TV drama, though? The anime followed the manga storyline quite closely, while the live-action movies had a delightfully unexpected twist that kept true to the original manga but also kept it fresh for those familiar with the series. The musical is set to premiere on April 29 so it’s not yet known how the duel between Light and L will play out. Since it has been nine years since the completion of the manga, there has been plenty of time for writers to come up with variations on the plot to keep fans on the edge of their seats.

Casting news has also been suspiciously absent. Who will we see starting in the titular roles? The actors from the live-action movies haven’t played those parts for almost nine years, so it’s likely that they will cast new actors. Whoever they bring in though, will have a tough time trying to surpass Kenichi Matsuyama’s performance as L.

More information will certainly be released in the coming months…

Korean illustrator gives Western fairy tales a whimsical Eastern makeover



RocketNews 24/Bored Panda:

What would some of our favorite Disney fairytales and Western stories look like if they had been conceived in Eastern Asia? Korean illustrator Na Young Wu has an idea – her illustrations feature Disney characters new and old reinterpreted through the prism of modern Korean cartoon illustration, also known as “manhwa” (the equivalent of manga in Korean).

Wu, who also goes by “Obsidian,”(@00obsidian00) on Twitter, is quite a prolific illustrator. She has created character illustrations for games such as Japanese mobile game Furyoudou~Gang Road~ and Korean production Age of Storm: Kingdom Under Fire Online.

It’s been a year since the release of the mega hit animation Frozen, but as much as some of us can’t wait for it to fade into the shadows, the icy queen and her Frozen empire are still staying put in the spotlight, as if the movie had only been released last month.

We previously saw Elsa and Anna looking glam in some beautiful Chinese dresses. Bet you’re not surprised that we found her donning a Korean hanbok this time! Some of you might be thinking, “RocketNews24 is writing about Frozen AGAIN”, but don’t roll your eyes just yet, because Elsa is just one of the many stunning East-West fusion pieces that Korean illustrator Na Young Wu has created. Check out her other Western fairy tale interpretations after the jump!

Furyoudou~Gang Road~



Although the girls she created for Furyoudou~Gang Road~ are an impeccable mixture of cute and sexy, it is her Korean manhwa drawing style that really brings out the unique atmosphere in her Korean-Western fairy tale series.


Alice in Wonderland

Little Red Riding Hood
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Beauty and the Beast
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The Frog Prince
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The Little Mermaid
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Snow White
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Head over to Obsidian’s blog or Twitter to see more of her fantastic illustrations!

“Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One With the Universe” by Yumi Sakugawa

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 Audrey Magazine:

One year after her debut comic book, I Think I’m In Friend-Love With You, artist Yumi Sakugawa has released her second book, Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One With the Universe, complete with nine black-and-white, ink-illustrated metaphysical lessons about how to slow down, appreciate your surroundings, overcome your insecurities and feel more connected with the world around you.

As a self-help junkie who used to read a lot of self-help books to get through periods of depression and extremely low self-esteem,” she says, “this book is my own way of contributing to the self-help genre, but in a more visual format that is very different from the usual style of self-help books.”

Originally intended to be part of an online course before it became a book, the content was inspired by Sakugawa’s own meditation practices that she’s been doing (and doodling about) since 2008. Some of the other illustrated meditation practices she created while she was working as a blog editor on a wellness website include “Anxiety is a Heavy Rock,” “Sometimes It’s Okay If The Only Thing You Did Today Was Breathe,” “How To Be A Silent Witness To Your Thoughts,” and “There Is No Right Way to Meditate.”

An excerpt from Your Illustrated Guide, where she advises people to have cake and tea with your demons, was selected as part of the Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 anthology.

This section is also her own personal favorite. “Loving my own weaknesses and flaws is never easy for me, and thinking of that lesson helps me put things in perspective,” she says. “I also love hearing from other people how that lesson has helped them through their own personal struggles and issues.”

Details Hardcover, $14.99,



The works of Yoshitomo Nara from his new book ‘Drawings: 1984-2013’

Shohei Otomo brings the gritty side of Japan to vivid life with a mere ballpoint pen

RocketNews 24:

Shohei Otomo can sometimes be found simply under the working name “Shohei.” That might possibly have been an effort to downplay his heritage, because when your father is responsible for some of the most influential manga and anime ever it can be hard to get looked at as an individual.

However, outside of a certain degree of edginess and high degree of Akira and Domu,creator Katsuhiro Otomo and his son each stand alone with their respective arts. Shohei has the unique gift of creating a provocative illustration using only a ballpoint with such a level of detail and texture that you can get lost in them.

He’s posted a series of time-lapse YouTube videos showing him at his craft which is a spectacle almost as impressive as the drawings themselves.

The characters he creates all have a blend of realism and comic-book aesthetics that make them look capable of either something hideous and gritty or something magical and surreal. Cops with gnarled faces and rocket-powered geisha are but a few of his beautifully textured and shaded works.

They’re so deeply detailed that it’d be hard to believe that he did all of it with ballpoint pens alone. He probably figured that too, which might be why Shohei has several videos showing him at work in high-speed. Here are a few.


Sophia Chang talks illustration, women in sneakers, and her collection for PUMA

Image of Sophia Chang Talks Illustration, Women in Sneakers, and Her PUMA Collection

Designer, illustrator and self-professed Bun Queen, Sophia Chang has created an impressive portfolio in her short tenure. The Queens-based artist often look to hip-hop and pop culture in her caricatures, presenting simple yet compelling renderings that have garnered collaborations with the likes of Staple Design, Baohaus and Undefeated.

For her latest project, PUMA tapped Sophia to produce a collection dubbed “Brooklynite” — a bold repertoire that blends together PUMA’s technical designs with Sophia’s New York-inspired illustrations. Continuing with such motifs, Sophia moved onto footwear, designing an updated collection to the PUMA Trinomic Disc. In this segment, we catch up with the young artist to learn about how she interpolates her illustration skills onto footwear design, her views on women in sneakers, and UNDO-Ordinary Magazine — a platform she co-created that celebrates fashion and fitness.



How different is footwear design from your experience with strictly illustrating?
My college studies were grounded in illustration. I spent my free time mentoring and studying under some of the greats in the design industry. Since my graduation in 2010 I have expanded my practice to many different creative fields including graphic design, web design and art curation. Since I’m familiar with creating on different platforms, working with footwear was just a blank canvas to me (also I’m a huge fan of sneakers so my heart was in it too!). I was given the opportunity to translate my understanding of art and design (simple things like color palette and space distribution), and mix it with my personal interests in fashion. Cultural influences came into play as well. Being a native New Yorker I wanted to embody the flavor of the city in an apparel collection that would speak to a global market.


Has growing up in New York provided you with any advantages creatively?

I’m so blessed to be able to live and work in this creative hub. Of course growing up in this urban city has definitely influenced me early on. For my personal history, the cultural influences of hip-hop music, style and creative arts has definitely been a part of my entire life.

When I was studying in school and identifying myself amongst my peers, it was clear the talent to draw was there. But to succeed in the design market, you need more than just talent. You need hustle. You need a niche market that you can work in. I realized that my passion projects really helped lead me to my clients. When I say passion projects I mean non-commissioned work that I wanted to do just for fun. I love digging into New York culture and pop culture for my personal artistic inspiration.


Females in streetwear have been gaining a lot of traction recently, why do you think this is?

I believe it’s gaining traction because the internet allows for greater transparency. In a male-dominated market like streetwear, there is little room for women with talent to shine. Well, compared to women with a nice set of tits and ass. The internet as a communication tool allows women to show off their own accolades with little constraints.

You’ve worked before for creative companies/agencies and as a freelancer. Do you feel more creative now that you’re working for yourself?

Absolutely. It’s like how they say college isn’t for everyone. A full-time job with a system might not be for every person. I’m still young, and I still have a lot to accomplish. I want to take advantage of my time out of school to really test the waters. Struggle, fail, try, make attempts, succeed (maybe) and see how far I can take myself. When I am ready, I will definitely enter back into the full-time market. But for now, I’m just trying to see what I’ve got.


How do you ensure that you’re being pushed and challenged when you work for yourself?
I surround myself with people who push and challenge me. I’ve been blessed to be in a beautiful city, one of the hardest cities to work in as a creative. I’ve got a great community of people who support me and a lovely web community of people who criticize me. Even the living standards in NY is a good enough push. Trying to pay the bills and still cop the latest kicks!


You recently collaborated with PUMA on the “Brooklynite” collection and the Disc Blaze Lite line. How much of the project centers around sports/functionality versus lifestyle?

The collection itself is carried under the PUMA lifestyle collection. None of the designs really have anything to do with sport performance. However personally I live an active lifestyle and I am deeply influenced by sportswear fabrics. Select pieces of the collection echo designs found in technicalactivewear. The Trinomic Disc sneakers include materials such as neoprene, mesh and reflective stripes. These fabrics are often found in sportswear and in the event years, due to fashion trends, have made appearances in the fashion market. As a New Yorker who is constantly on the move from meetings, to the gym, to dinner with friends, it’s important for my outfit to be flexible for all occasions.


You have participated the UNDO-Ordinary Magazine project, tell us how it got started and what’s your main focus on the layout design and visual direction of magazine?

The UNDO-Ordinary Magazine was created because the marketed needed it. The founders ofUNDO-Ordinary are Robin Arzon and Nai Vasha, who built a global running movement centered around fitness and fashion. They’re both good friends and huge inspirations for me. We decided to team up and create a print magazine based on their ethos. The vision was clear. It’s a lifestyle we all live. Art, fashion, health, charity, living without walls. We all brought our strengths to the table to compose the book. I have experience in print design, Nai is an amazing visionary, and Robin is one of the best copy writers I know. We joined forces like Voltron and created because we wanted to. We reached out to our community of artists, photographers, stylists and writers to join us in our journey. No client, no commission – we created our own path, our own direction. Thanks to Without Walls to sponsored our book, we were able to print our magazines. We are proud to announce that the book is available globally in various boutiques. And yes, there’s more issues on the way.


What do you think of the trend of women styled in cool sneaker designs? 

I don’t think it’s new at all. I’ve been mixing female fashion with sneakers my entire life. I was never much of a “shoes” girl. It’s only during these recent years that I’ve noticed there are other out there thanks to the internet. It’s amazing that we can all connect because of our interests and hobbies. It’s still a bit of a shock to me but I love seeing it and I find it very encouraging especially when women are posting my PUMA sneakers!


A few years ago we did a successful “A Day with Sophia Chang” editorial. Three years on, how has your daily life changed? 

Wow! Where to begin? Nowadays I pretty much have the same schedule. I’ve always been very organized and schedule days for meetings and certain days for just working at home. In the recent years I’ve been traveling a lot more for work which has been a huge blessing. I’m happy that my client base is expanding and turning global.


Possible to share any cool projects coming up from your side?
I’ll leave it as a surprise. Stay tuned via my Instagram @esymai.


Image of Sophia Chang Talks Illustration, Women in Sneakers, and Her PUMA Collection

Image of Sophia Chang Talks Illustration, Women in Sneakers, and Her PUMA Collection

Image of Sophia Chang Talks Illustration, Women in Sneakers, and Her PUMA Collection

Image of Sophia Chang Talks Illustration, Women in Sneakers, and Her PUMA Collection

Image of Sophia Chang Talks Illustration, Women in Sneakers, and Her PUMA Collection

Image of Sophia Chang Talks Illustration, Women in Sneakers, and Her PUMA Collection