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.

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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

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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

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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:

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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

 

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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!

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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
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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, adamsmedia.com.
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