Asian American ComiCon was one of the best conventions I’ve been to in awhile, possibly a new favorite of mine. When I planned to attend the convention, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew there were a couple of interesting panels I wanted to see and George Takei will be there. Definitely enough of an incentive to go, especially just to show support to fellow Asian-American creators and the community.
The afternoon turned out to be one of the more memorable and inspiring day I’ve had as a creative person and as an Asian woman.
The artist alley itself was small, which I quite liked because at bigger conventions, it can get overwhelming. A couple of my favorite artists were there, including Martin Hsu and Mari Naomi. It was great to have time to chat with the artists about their work without feeling pressured about a time limit.
Bonus: we even ran into We Bare Bears creator, Daniel Chong… it was very exciting for me. I freaking love We Bare Bears!
I attended the Women Warriors: Reimagining Asian Female Heroes talk, with panelists Rebecca Sun (The Hollywood Reporter), Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex), Paula Yoo (Executive Producer, Supergirl), Samantha Jo (Actress, Wonder Woman), Sumalee Montano (Actress, Beware the Batman) and Claire Lanay (Afronerd Radio). The panel went into a deep discussion on what it’s like to be an Asian-American woman working in the entertainment industry, their own personal life experiences as they pursued a creative career, and their unique perspective on representation. It was refreshing to hear them talk about how different their journeys and thoughts were from each other, proving that we are not our stereotypes i.e. the Dragon Lady, the Love You Long Time Asian Hooker, the Smart Lawyer, etc. but individuals with our own ambitions and desires.
I encourage you to Google each and every single one of these women and explore their work. They are all very talented and incredibly insightful. Paula Yoo is my new hero, for sure!
The second panel after was called #AAIronFist: Bringing An Asian American Hero to Life with Keith Chow (The Nerds of Color), Lewis Tan (Marvel’s Iron Fist), Benjamin To (The Immortal Iron Fist), Adam Lim (Iron Fist Pitch), John Brougher (Iron and Rage), and Susan Cheng (Buzzfeed). The panel started with screenings of film shorts and previews of the creators’ version of Iron Fist if Danny Rand had been an Asian American man. The discussion wasn’t about bashing the Netflix series at all, but the panelists dug deeper into why Hollywood continues to struggle to cast Asian Americans in lead roles or roles that were created for us (cough, whitewashing, cough). They also talked about their own struggles with coming into terms with the so-called “Asian stereotypes” and embracing their culture. Some of the actors admitted that they even resisted learning martial arts in order to avoid being casted as “kung fu masters”— to which Lewis Tan declared that we need to embrace everything because: “That’s our shit!”
At the final hour of the convention, George Takei was presented with the first ever Excelsior Award for Art in the Service of Activism. He of course gave a very charming speech of acceptance. I was so happy to see George Takei in person and we were treated to a live podcast recording of They Call Us Bruce with hosts, Jeff Yang (CNN) and Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man).
AACC only lasted for five hours but it was definitely one of the more fulfilling days I’ve had in a long time. We got to chat and meet with a lot of the creators afterwards panels and it was really cool to know that we all 100% get it. It was cool to just be excited for each other.
I really hope they hold another convention soon, but the 2nd annual Asian American ComiCon will always be memorable to me and my friends, for sure. We couldn’t stop gushing about what a great day we had. Thank you, AACC!